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Technical

What is the project’s approach?

The previous My Electric Avenue project tested a monitoring and control technology by recruiting clusters of EV users; all people in a cluster were fed by the same local electricity substation feeder. The ‘cluster trials’ aimed to simulate a 2030 network; these clusters were primarily in residential situations (charging at home) with a limited number in business situations.

The results of the project’s modelling showed that across Britain 32% of low voltage (LV) feeders (312,000 circuits) will require intervention when 40% – 70% of customers have EVs. Intervention using smart technology, rather than digging up the roads to install new cables, has been predicted to give an economic saving of at least £2.2 billion by 2050.

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The Electric Nation project will build on the findings of My Electric Avenue and will develop and deliver:

  1. An LV Network Assessment Tool for DNOs that:
    • a. Analyses and quantifies EV related stress issues on LV networks, including:
      • i. Rapid assessment of EVs on LV networks through “topological” modelling of LV networks;
      • ii. Ability to include known EV charger installations;
      • iii. Ability to forecast future EV charger installations based on EV market growth and forecasts; and
      • iv. Flexibility allowing for future charger rating and EV battery size developments.
    • b. Identifies the best economic solution to these issues: Demand management / V2G / reinforcement.
  2. A technique to monitor and understand the effects of electric vehicle charging on LV networks across different levels of penetration
  3. A specification and commercial framework for future procurement and deployment of EV/V2G Demand/Export Management Services by DNOs to delay or avoid network reinforcement in cases where PIV installation numbers create network stress
  4. The policies, procedures and training to enable WPD (and other GB DNOs) to adopt the LV Network Assessment Tool and EV/V2G Demand/Export Management Services.

Development of the LV Network Assessment Tool and functional specification and commercial framework for EV/V2G Demand Management Services will be informed by a large-scale field trial involving PIV drivers that will:

  1. Expand current understanding of the demand impact of charging at home on electricity distribution networks of a diverse range of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) – extending charge rates to 7kW+, possibly introducing vehicle to grid technology and a range of battery sizes from 20kWh to 80kWh+.
  2. Build a better understanding of how vehicle usage affects charging behaviour given diversity of charge rate and battery size.
  3. Evaluate the reliability and acceptability to customers of EV/V2G Demand/Export Management Services and influence these have on driving and charging behaviour.

So, building the evidence to support the business case and associated policies, procedures and technical/commercial documentation for DNOs for implementing EV/V2G Demand/Export Management to avoid or delay network reinforcement.

What is the project size/duration?

Owing to the growing complexity of EV types (battery size and nominal charging rates) and the complexity of driver behaviour (e.g. low mileage through to high) the trial needs to be fairly large to provide statistically significant cohorts involving between 500 and 700 PIV owner/drivers.

These drivers will be incentivised to volunteer for the customer trials through, for example, subsidies for smart charger installation (over and above the Plug-In Grant) and, in some cases additional incentive payments that simulate time of use tariffs and grid/network service payments – or through such incentives as identified through a customer focus group run to determine best practicable approach.

The project will take three and a half years to complete: nine months to mobilise; two years for the trial and a further six to nine months to prepare and deliver the outcomes.

What is Demand Management?

As more households switch to electric vehicles (EVs) the amount of electricity consumed in homes will increase. The UK will be able to generate enough electricity to supply the expected numbers of EVs and the National Grid will be able to transmit that electricity to electricity distribution networks. However, some local electricity networks may not have the capacity to deliver all the electricity required to charge these EVs, especially when many of them are plugged in to charge at the same time, when household electricity demand is too high (for example on cold winter evenings). This is known as ‘peak demand’.

At times of peak demand, ‘demand management’ may be used to delay or avoid the need to replace electricity cables and equipment in order to cope with most electricity demands. Demand management is when specific loads on the electricity network are remotely controlled to ensure the security and health of all, or parts of, the network.

The cost of replacing cables and electricity equipment goes on electricity bills; however the disruption caused by digging up roads and pavements to replace underground cables is just as important a concern.

The amount of electricity that we use in our homes fluctuates through the day and varies from home to home. An EV charger running at 7kW is like having two kettles on the boil, constantly, for hour after hour. This is seven times the average, smoothed-out, electricity demand of a typical house. Each house on its own can cope with this electricity demand, it’s when you get lots of houses with this high demand caused by EVs that some local electricity networks may require costly reinforcement.

The Electric Nation demand management system monitors the amount of electricity used by EV chargers that are part of the Electric Nation trial and adds them all together. It will create ‘virtual’ clusters, simulating what will happen as more people in local areas own EVs. The demand management system knows how much EV charging is allowed at certain times of day, for different days of the week and for different seasons for each virtual cluster. When this limit is reached the demand management system acts to control charging within the limits.

It does this by reducing the charging rate of some EVs and even pausing charging of some EVs for a short time. This action keeps the overall EV electricity within the permitted limit, until household demand reduces and the limit goes up, or some EVs finish charging and make more capacity available for others.

The Electric Nation demand management system has sophisticated algorithms that decides which EVs are put under demand management and it ensures that the demand management is shared among all the EVs that are plugged in and charging to make it fair to all.

Demand management events are likely to only last a couple of hours and will most likely happen in early weekday evenings, when most electricity is used at home – meaning EVs will have all night to catch up on the charging they require, so everyone has a fully charged car for the next morning.

Electric Nation will be trialling the technical platform that a demand management system might use and will be investigating the acceptability of this type of technology to EV owners. The commercial framework that might surround such a system is a long way off and beyond the remits of this trial.


Find out everything you need to know with our customer information pack.

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