SSEN project drives acceleration of electric vehicle policy

Electric vehicle being charged

The energy regulator has hailed the ‘exceptional performance’ of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ (SSEN) My Electric Avenue project, awarding the network operator a discretionary reward of £300,000 from its Low Carbon Networks Fund.

Ofgem said the project was of ‘huge benefit to GB electricity customers’ and added that its findings had ‘helped give the Government confidence to push ahead with the wide scale electrification of transport’, evidenced by the recently launched Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018.

The three-year long project, led by partner EA Technology, artificially created ‘clusters’ of Electric Vehicle (EV) users to help understand the impact this extra demand may have on low voltage electricity networks, predicting what may need to happen in the future as more people transition to electric forms of transport. It also trialled demand-side response (DSR) technology to help manage charging and mitigate the risk of network overload.

Learnings from the project and SSEN’s subsequent Smart EV initiative have helped develop Government legislation to mandate that all EV chargers in Britain are smart, enabling distribution network operators (DNOs) to safeguard, maintain and develop smarter networks to cope with the increase in EVs in the future.

In its award summary, Ofgem commented on the ‘notable achievement’, highlighting significant and sustained engagement efforts by the project team in reducing any adverse network impacts of widescale EV rollout.

Stewart Reid, SSEN’s Head of DSO and Innovation, said: “As our industry rapidly transforms in the move to a smarter, more flexible energy system, understanding and managing the impact of EVs and other low carbon technologies is an increasingly important aspect of how we operate our electricity networks.

“We’re delighted the My Electric Avenue project has been recognised for its exceptional performance in influencing and informing UK legislation to ensure the transition to EVs is as smooth as possible as the country moves forward to achieve its low carbon transport ambitions.

“We continue to work with our industry partners through our Smart EV project, to make sure this fully supported transition takes place with minimal disruption to customers, avoiding unnecessary and costly network reinforcement through smart technology interventions.”

Robert Davis, CEO of EA Technology, added: “This was a complex and challenging project which was truly ground breaking by being the first to bring together stakeholders from the entire EV supply chain, producing learnings which have been instrumental in progressing the electrification of transport in GB.

“The project has provided leaning which will ensure the industry is well prepared to deal with the challenges ahead as the widespread rollout of EVs continues, underpinning our low carbon transition.”

SSEN recently published the response to its consultation on Managed Electric Vehicle Charging, highlighting proposed solutions to help ensure a smooth transition to EVs. For more information on the Smart EV project, please click here.

About the My Electric Avenue Project:

By creating ten ‘streets of the future’, offering over 220 households an electric car to drive for 18 months between January 2013 and December 2015, SSEN monitored how the network coped with more electric vehicles charging, helping to understand the effects of ‘clusters’, or groups of EVs, charging in the same street and their impact on the reliability of electricity supplies to the local community. Half of the vehicles were located within the clusters, while the other half helped provide additional data to allow SSEN to model and understand the impact of EVs on local networks, generating significant behaviour data for the industry to learn from.

The installation of new smart demand-side response (DSR) technology between the power supply and charging point helped SSEN monitor and manage the electricity used when the cars were on charge to prevent problems on the network. The project demonstrated 68% of electricity networks can be managed without issue, with DSR technology shifting or staggering charging to help avoid the need for unnecessary, and costly, network reinforcement, allowing local networks to cope with this increased demand.

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.

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