Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Project examines EV charging demand

Steve Rogerson
October 25, 2016
An innovation project has been launched to examine how the UK’s electricity network can prepare for the increase in electric vehicle (EV) ownership.
The Smart EV project called for consultation on managed EV charging at this month’s Low Carbon Networks Innovation Conference in Manchester. The consultation invites stakeholder views to secure a standardised industry-wide agreement for the connection, charging and control of electric vehicles. 
The project’s aim is to achieve agreement across a number of industries on the best way to help facilitate the roll out of controlled EV charging. In doing so, it will enable significantly larger numbers of EVs to charge on today’s local electricity distribution networks, with sizeable reduction in investment costs, customer bills and disruption.
The project is being run by electricity network distribution operator Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) and power engineering company EA Technology; funding is being provided through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance.
“We need to find a standardised method to control the charging of EVs,” said Dave Roberts, director at EA Technology. “The Smart EV project will seek to provide a national engineering recommendation, or equivalent, for the connection, charging and control of electric vehicles. We need the input of as many relevant stakeholders as possible – if you are a charging point manufacturer, installer, EV manufacturer, policymaker or anyone involved in the associated supply chain, please take part in the consultation.”
Based on the current and forecast rate of EV adoption, sections of the electricity network will need upgrading to match the future demand of electric vehicle ownership. To help offset the need to spend billions in reinforcing the network, the Smart EV project wants to find a cross-industry technical way to ensure the current electricity infrastructure can cope with the increase in electric vehicle charging on the network.
“As more people plug their vehicles in to charge, the more electricity is needed to match the demand,” said Stewart Reid, head of asset management at SSEN. “If this is being done at a time when demand is already high – such as in the evening around tea-time – this could put pressure on the electricity network, which could result in power cuts or disruption in supplies.”
The Smart EV project, he said, would help provide a safe and secure electricity network that could support the wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles, while reducing investment costs, customer bills and disruptions.
“Our research predicts that using smart technology, rather than digging up the roads to install new cables, will result in an economic saving of around £2.2bn by 2050,” he said.
UK smart grid company Reactive Technologies has demonstrated smart energy communications technology in a nationwide project with National Grid and SSEN. The grid data and measurement system (GDMS) is said to offers a more cost-effective way of communicating with electrical assets or devices connected to an electricity network by using the frequency of the electricity network to carry data.