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FAQs

About the Electric Nation project

What is the aim of the Electric Nation trial?

The Electric Nation project aims to build an understanding of the potential impact that the increasing uptake of EVs will have on local electricity networks. Cars with different battery sizes and charge rates may have different impacts and this needs to be understood. The impact of human behaviour on these different technologies will also be investigated.

The project will also trial a system that will be able to alleviate some of the anticipated problems that mass ownership and simultaneous charging of EVs could cause to local electricity networks.

What is the problem that needs solving?

The uptake of EVs is accelerating quickly and is expected to continue to do so. There were 1,056 cars eligible for the plug-in car grant in the UK in 2011. This figure has risen each year to a total of 35,447 cars in 2016. This is a significant increase over a period of just six years. While the UK can generate enough electricity to charge these vehicles, charging more EVs would have a greater impact on local electricity networks, especially if it coincides with existing peaks (e.g. after returning home from work in winter).

This trial is necessary to build an understanding of how different car battery sizes and speeds of charging may impact on this problem, and also to trial a potential solution.

What is the proposed solution?

By using smart chargers, a demand management provider could communicate with chargers to reduce the charging speed, or pause charging. Some EV owners will be able to programme some of their preferences and this information will be used to charge the car battery at a time or rate best suited to the network but within the car owner’s tolerances.

Local network operators could use this type of service when local networks are stressed, as an alternative to replacing their equipment (e.g. cables in roads).

Data gathered from the trial will be used to help
local network operators identify which parts of their network are most at risk as EV ownership increases. It will also develop a tool that will aid them to identify the most effective way to deal with areas of the network with problems.

Who are the collaboration partners?

The Electric Nation project is hosted by Western Power Distribution (WPD). It is delivered by the following collaboration partners:

  • EA Technology
  • DriveElectric (a brand name of Fleetdrive Management)
  • Lucy Electric Gridkey
  • TRL

In addition, there are a number of supporting collaborators:

  • CrowdCharge
  • Greenflux
  • Impact Research
  • e-Volt
  • ICU Charging Equipment

Who is responsible for different parts of the project?

Western Power Distribution

The host Distribution Network Operator, providing funding and direction to the project.

DriveElectric

Responsible for recruiting participants and all customer-facing activity.

EA Technology

EA Technology is responsible for testing the EV charge point demand management systems developed by CrowdCharge and Greenflux. These systems will change the charging rate or pause your car charge. EA Technology is also responsible for creating the event simulations that will be used to see if the system could be used to help the electricity network, as well as managing all aspects of customer research, PR, marketing and dissemination of learning for the project.

Lucy Electric GridKey

Lucy Electric is monitoring local LV substations with the GridKey system with the aim of assessing the load profile of various types of electric vehicles and developing an algorithm that can automatically detect the presence of EVs charging on the network.

TRL

Providing project oversight.

CrowdCharge and Greenflux

Are developers of EV demand management systems which will send signals to the smart chargers.

Impact Research

Conducting customer research.

e-Volt and ICU Charging Equipment

Providing the smart chargers.

How is the project funded?

Electric Nation is the customer-facing brand of CarConnect, a Western Power Distribution (WPD) and Network Innovation Allowance funded project. WPD’s collaboration partners in the project are EA Technology, DriveElectric, Lucy Electric GridKey and TRL.

About participants' involvement in the Electric Nation project

How will the data that I provided be protected? Who will have access to my data, to what extent will it be visible in project outputs, and what will happen to it after completion of the trials?

DriveElectric is the data controller for this project. DriveElectric has 21 years’ experience managing customer data through its car lease business and experience in implementing data protection procedures across project partners and suppliers. During recruitment, the Electric Nation project will collect some personal data from you. With your permission your contact details will also be shared with Impact Research who will be conducting the customer research aspect of the project.  Impact Research is also a registered data controller as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998.  Both companies are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The project has carefully selected its suppliers who may handle your data (e.g. collecting your contact details or installing your smart charger) to ensure they comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act; this will ensure that your personal data is managed appropriately. Your personal data will not be shared outside the  project delivery partners and suppliers, and any data shared with project partners or suppliers will be limited to what they require to deliver their role in the project.

Data such as when you plug your car in, when it charges, how long for and the charge rate will be collected via the demand management system.  This data will not include personal data and participants will not be recognisable from this information.  It will be encrypted according to strict protocols.  In some cases, and with your permission, the project may access data from your EV.  This may include information such as journey lengths and the state of charge of your EV’s battery and, with your permission, may require fitting of a telematics device to your vehicle.

At the end of the project all personal data kept about you by the project will be destroyed unless you provide us with express permission to keep it.

All results, data or analysis published by the project will be in an anonymous and aggregated format.  The project will ensure that no trial participant can be identified from any trial publication unless an individual has provided express permission for their details to be made available, for example in a case study or newsletter.

A full copy of the Electric Nation Data Protection Strategy can be found in the Resources section of the Electric Nation website.

Is it true that it is safer to use a dedicated EV charger rather than a domestic electricity socket?

Charging with a dedicated EV home charging unit, such as a smart charger, rather than using a domestic power socket (so-called ‘standard charging’, using a portable charging lead) is significantly safer. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Charging an EV requires a high amperage of electricity for a significant length of time. Typically the highest standard charging rate is 10 amps. This can lead to domestic sockets overheating and potentially creating a fire hazard. Dedicated EV chargers are designed to safely provide electricity at a higher amperage (16 amps or 32 amps) than a domestic socket so your car can charge quicker too!
  • A domestic socket will potentially be on a circuit with other domestic appliances, on the main house electricity switchboard. Standard charging an EV requires constant relatively high current over many hours and there is a chance that in combination with other appliances too much electrical current will be used, tripping the whole circuit.
  • If you want to use a portable standard charging cable, it is recommended that you have a weather-proof socket installed outside, close to where you intend to charge your car, on an electrical circuit separate from other household electrical circuits. This reduces the need for trailing wires that may be a trip hazard or get damaged (which could pose an increased risk of electrocution).
  • Trailing an extension lead from an indoor socket to your car via an open window or door can create a security risk (as well as risk damaging the cable at the point that it goes through the open door or window).

Dedicated EV home charging units, ‘fast chargers’, like the smart chargers used in the Electric Nation project, are designed to safely deliver much higher charging currents than portable standard charging cables, 16 amps or 32 amps maximum rating.

What subsidies will Electric Nation participants benefit from?

We will provide a top-up contribution towards the smart charger and its installation, in addition to any applicable OLEV electric vehicle home charge scheme grant. Assuming the participant meets all eligibility criteria, they will receive the smart charger with no costs incurred. This is subject to a survey of the property and based upon a standard installation process. If the survey reveals any complications, then the participant may be subject to additional costs. If this is the case, the participant will be informed of these additional costs prior to installation and asked if they wish to proceed.

Should the participant wish to leave the trial early or decide not to continue to engage then they will be asked to reimburse a proportion of the £150 installation fee paid on your behalf by the project. The exact amount will be calculated according to the length of time that you participate in the trial.

Additionally, drivers will be given online gift vouchers, such as Amazon vouchers, worth £10 for each survey they complete during the trial, and £25 for completion of the post-trial survey. The two surveys conducted before the demand management trials begin are a condition of participation and therefore there are no payments for completion of these.

What are the channels of communication for the project?

More information about the project can be found at: www.electricnation.org.uk.

Alternatively contact the project on our dedicated email address electricnation@drive-electric.co.uk or phone us on 0333 300 1050.

There is also a 24 hour helpline available to participants.

What type of information will I be asked for during the trial?

DriveElectric is the data controller for the Electric Nation project. Details of the data protection strategy for the project can be found in the Resources section of the Electric Nation website.

Impact Research will need information about participants and their households, for example contact details, age, gender, number of people in the household and number of cars etc. They will also ask about experiences using EVs, for example about the types of trips that are undertaken and decisions about when to charge the vehicle and about any problems or concerns when using or charging the EV. This will help the project to understand how different types of people and households use their EVs.

CrowdCharge and Greenflux may collect or be given data regarding the charging of the trial participant’s EV, journey data, vehicle specification data.

How often will Impact Research make contact and how will information be collected?

When a person agrees to be part of the Electric Nation project they will be asked some questions about the household and circumstances as well as expectations about being an EV owner. This is most likely to be online, though they may make contact by telephone from time-to-time to remind people to take part in a survey or update information they hold. Participants will then be asked to complete up to eight short online questionnaires about experiences of being an EV owner before, during and after the trial, each one lasting no more than 10 minutes.

You will be given online vouchers, such as Amazon vouchers, worth £10 for each survey completed during the trial, and £25 for completion of the post-trial survey. The two surveys conducted before the demand management trials begin are a condition of participation and therefore there are no payments for completion of these.

How long does the trial last?

The trial lasts for two years from January 2017 to December 2018. Participants joining after the start of the trial will only participate for the remaining period.

Are there any potential inconveniences associated with taking part in the trial?

As part of the Electric Nation trial a demand management system will be used to change the rate or pause when your EV is charging, simulating an event designed to prevent the network being overloaded. It is expected that this can be carried out whilst ensuring that EVs are still charged when required. The trial will seek to prove that this is the case. There is therefore a possibility that participants’ cars may not be sufficiently charged, causing some inconvenience.

Should the charge point supplied as part of the trial fail, alternative transport can be arranged. The charger will be checked and if necessary replaced.

How long will the installation of the smart charger take?

The smart charger installation will be carried out by an OLEV-approved installer. Each installation is different, however a typical visit will take between 3-6 hours.

Will there be a disruption to my electricity supply while the smart charger is being installed?

There will be a short interruption to your electricity supply of no more than half an hour whilst the charge point is being installed. You will need to be at home when the charge point is installed, even if it is going
to be outside.

Who will install my smart charger?

DriveElectric will be working with a preferred selection of OLEV-approved installers who will carry out the installation work.

Will the smart charger track other energy usage in my house?

The smart charger will only monitor the electricity supplied to your EV.

What are trial participants obliged to do?

As a participant in the Electric Nation trial we want you to use your EV the way you want to – driving it where you want to go, when you want. Therefore plug in your EV at home as and when you need to charge it!

If managed charging changes your driving and charging habits – for better or worse – we would like to know what’s changed.

If you are provided with an app to programme in your journey and charging preferences, please use it. It will help the control system to make better decisions.

So that we know what you think about the demand management system that you are trialling, please complete the customer research survey whenever you are requested to (usually approximately every three months).

If for any reason you cannot carry on participating in the Electric Nation trial please let us know as soon as possible by contacting DriveElectric, either by email electricnation@drive-electric.co.uk or by telephone on 0333 300 1050.

Please let us know if you change your contact details, either by email electricnation@drive-electric.co.uk or by telephone on 0333 300 1050.

Will my electricity supplier be told or be able to find out that I am having a charge point installed?

No, electricity suppliers (for example British Gas, E ON, N Power) are not told about your charge point and they do not need to be informed. Electricity suppliers cannot tell what equipment or loads you have at your house. Your charge point installer will inform your local electricity Distribution Network Operator (for example Western Power Distribution) – this is an obligation required of the installer as part of the Domestic Wiring Regulations.

Once I have plugged in my EV can I choose when it actually charges?

The smart charger does not have the functionality to allow you to programme when your car is charged however most EVs come with an app that allows you to do this.

Who will be fitting the charge point?

The trial will be using several different installers. An installer will be assigned to you based upon the area in which you live. All the charge point installers that are used by the Electric Nation trial are OLEV-approved.

What brand of chargers will be fitted?

It will either be an APT or ICU charger. Chargers will be assigned on a random basis.

Who will complete the application for the home charger grant?

DriveElectric will complete this form on your behalf.

What is the voltage and current of the charger?

It is 7kW or 32 Amps.

Is the charger tethered or untethered?

The charge points come untethered. Some EVs come with charge cables free of charge. If you need to buy a charge cable DriveElectric can help you. Cables are priced between £130 and £165.

Will I get a smart phone app?

Not all participants will get a smart phone app. Trail participants will be provided with an app on a random basis.

How often would I be expected to update the app?

This will vary, but at most you will need to update the app daily. Not all participants will receive an app.

What happens if I need to stop participating before the end of the trial?

If you leave before the end of the trial you will be asked to reimburse a proportion of the £150 installation fee paid on your behalf by the project. The exact amount will be calculated according to the length of time that you participated in the trial.

About eligibility to take part in the Electric Nation project

My EV is a company car – can I still take part in the Electric Nation trial?

Yes, you can, as long as you are eligible for the OLEV grant. To be eligible for the OLEV grant company car users must be assigned a company car, or named by the employer as the primary user of the car, for at least six months and have not been in possession of the vehicle for more than four months before the charge point is installed. OLEV will ask you to provide a letter from your employer proving that you will have the EV for more than six months and will check how long you have been using the car by cross referencing information submitted to HMRC on your P46 ‘Benefit in Kind‘ form.

To participate in the Electric Nation trial you will need to show us that you will be in possession of your company EV until January 2019 or beyond.

If you have any queries about your eligibility to participate in the Electric Nation trial please phone DriveElectric on 0333 300 1050.

My car is currently on a two-year lease and I am nearly two months into it. Can I still take part in the Electric Nation trial?

Yes, you can still take part. It does not matter how far you are into your EV lease as long as the period left goes up to or beyond January 2019.

Will having PV panels on my home affect my participation in the Electric Nation project?

No, having PV panels or any other form of renewable generation at your home will not prevent you participating in the Electric Nation trial, however you will be asked as part of the customer research if you have them installed.

I am on an Economy 7/Economy 10/other time-of-use tariff. Can I participate in the trial?

Yes, you can still participate.

When the project expands nationwide, will it include Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man or Gibraltar?

Unfortunately we are unable to include these areas in the Electric Nation trial if/when it expands nationwide. This is because they are subject to a different Energy Regulation than England and Scotland.

What is the minimum amount of time I need to participate in the trial?

The trial ends in December 2018. You would be expected to participate until the end of the trial. If you leave before the end of the trial you will be asked to reimburse a proportion of the £150 installation fee paid on your behalf by the project. The exact amount will be calculated according to the length of time that you participated in the trial.

If I move property can I take the charge point with me? Will I be able to continue to participate in the trial?

If you move house during the trial then you can take your charger with you although you will have to pay for an installer to move it. You can then continue to participate in the trial. Please let DriveElectric know if you are moving house so that they can keep their records up to date. They will also be able to help you find a qualified installer to move your charge point.

If you do not want to take your charge point with you when you move house you can leave it at your old house when you move and it will become the property of your old house’s owner.  If you move before the end of the trial you will be asked to reimburse a proportion of the £150 installation fee paid on your behalf by the project. The exact amount will be calculated according to the length of time that you participated in the trial.

About the OLEV charge point grant

Am I eligible for another OLEV grant if I have already had a charger fitted but I then move house?

Not unless you have bought a second eligible electric vehicle and kept both vehicles.  You may move your charge point to your new property as long as you notify OLEV first.

Is the OLEV grant limited to the person who is the registered keeper of the car?

The person who applies for the grant must be the person named on the evidence supplied for the vehicle.

If I buy a second hand EV am I eligible for the OLEV grant?

Yes, second-hand vehicles are eligible under the EV Home-charge Scheme (EVHS) as long as the model appears on OLEV’s eligible vehicles list.

Am I eligible for the OLEV grant if I replace my EV? How about if I replace my EV and my existing charger is not suitable?

If you buy a new EV then you are only eligible for a new OLEV charge point grant if you keep your old vehicle as well.

If I have a charger paid for by OLEV for their EV, but my spouse/partner/child who lives at the same address is about to get an EV – is the spouse/partner/child eligible for the grant towards a charger?

Yes, the EVHS permits one charge point per person, per property, per vehicle up to a maximum of two vehicles. Therefore if a property has two eligible vehicles, you can have a grant for two charge points.

Is there a time limit between getting a new electric vehicle and then still being eligible for the grant?

It depends on your ownership type. If you have bought the vehicle you must have done so after 1 April 2015. If you are the owner of a company vehicle, you must have been in possession of the vehicle within the four months prior to installation.

Collaboration Partners

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