SSEN progresses managed charging solution to aid smooth EV transition

Electric vehicle being charged

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has today published the response to its consultation on Managed Electric Vehicle Charging, highlighting proposed solutions to help ensure a smooth transition to electric vehicles (EVs) which avoids potential overloads on local electricity networks caused by sharp increases in the use of EVs.

The consultation, part of SSEN’s Smart EV project funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance, was undertaken alongside technology partners EA Technology and supported by all GB distribution network operators (DNOs).  It sought views on potential charging solutions to ensure a smooth transition to electric vehicles takes place with minimal disruption to customers whilst also avoiding unnecessary and costly network reinforcement.

The proposed interim solution would see the installation of a monitoring device at the local electricity substation and, with customer consent, in domestic properties, that would allow network operators to temporarily adjust EV charging when required. The solution is designed to address emergency situations where local networks have faulted, or are likely to fault, based on a rapid increase in electricity demand caused by clusters, or groups, of EVs.

The solution is not intended to impede demand-side response offerings from a flexible energy market, but would only come into play if the market is unable to deliver and the integrity of local electricity networks was at risk.

A wide range of responses were received from various stakeholder groups including energy market participants, DNOs, local government and NGOs, consumer bodies, consultants, energy suppliers, charge point supply chain representatives and representatives from the automotive industry. The majority of responses to the consultation determined managing charging to prevent overload of local electricity networks to be in the best interest of customers, with 78% of the charge point supply chain agreeing that the market is able to supply a solution within two years.

Respondents to the consultation agreed that more work is required on the governance of a solution to ensure it meets the needs of consumers. SSEN will now look to progress the solution by creating a technical specification with which a tender can be issued, whilst reviewing governance requirements and actively engaging the market to help drive other solutions that DNOs could use.

A longer-term option of using smart meters to adjust charging rates as a means to protect electricity networks was also explored, with the majority of respondents stating the energy industry should explore implementing the smart meter solution for the future benefit of energy consumers. SSEN is now progressing a proposed modification to the smart meter specification.

Stewart Reid, Head of DSO and Innovation at SSEN, said:

“SSEN fully supports the desire to decarbonise the UK transport fleet and welcomes the recent passage of the Automated and Electric Vehicle Bill by the UK Parliament that recognises the role of smart charging solutions.

“As a responsible network operator, it is our job to ensure the transition to electric vehicles is as smooth as possible, developing cost-effective, smart technology interventions to manage this demand without unnecessary upgrades to GB networks and disruption to consumers.

“Whilst we continue to work with industry to develop an enduring solution to managed charging, the proposed interim solution is an important step to ensure the UK realises its low carbon transport ambitions with no adverse impact to both EV users and electricity networks.

“We’d like to thank those who responded to our consultation, and our next steps to formally invite the market to provide the interim solution will be reviewed industry-wide to ensure the proposed option continues to serve in the best interests of GB electricity customers.”

To read the full consultation response, please click here.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.7 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

Read more articles by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks