SSEN launches project to support the UK’s readiness for electric vehicles through portable charging devices

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has secured funding from Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance (NIA), to deliver the £320,000 Local Electric Vehicle Energy Loop (LEVEL) project. LEVEL will scope out the design and capabilities of portable electric vehicle (EV) charging devices to provide power to EV drivers when, and where they need it.

Scotland is seeking to phase out the purchase of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles by 2032 and SSEN is working to ensure the network and charging infrastructure is in place to support drivers that make the switch. SSEN is a proud partner of the Scottish Government’s Strategic EV Partnership, which is working to decarbonise all forms of transport in Scotland and identify and address potential issues in the transition.

Charging infrastructure needs to be responsive to short term impacts, such as road works or traffic accidents which close certain sections of the road network and may harm drivers’ ability to reach their next charge point. Charging demand will also fluctuate with the seasons, as local drivers and tourists move around more during the warmer months and travel to holiday destinations.

LEVEL is an 18-month project that begins in April 2020, which will identify ways to improve network and charging resilience to meet short-term demand. The project will develop the standard and specification of temporary, portable EV charging devices, including a demonstration of a device in the SSEN licence area in the north of Scotland.

Future charging devices could be deployed in advance of bad weather, such as to remote locations across Scotland which experience adverse weather that can cause power cuts, which would affect EV drivers’ mobility. LEVEL will investigate the feasibility of positioning charging devices in public car parks during the summer months, to boost capacity in the local area. 

LEVEL will consider:

  • the customer interface, such as development of an app which will display the locations of mobile devices;
  • the best ownership model for these devices, which may be best placed with public bodies;
  • the role of these devices with vulnerable communities; and
  • the implications for metering and settlement from temporary connections.

Kate Jones, Project Manager for LEVEL for SSEN said:

“The electrification of transport is critical in realising Scotland’s decarbonisation ambitions, bringing exciting opportunities to be seized and challenges to be mitigated. Through the LEVEL project we will be working collaboratively to identify potential issues, to give customers the confidence to make the EV transition.

“LEVEL is an exciting addition to our portfolio of projects that are preparing the electricity network for EVs. A portable charging device could be a valuable tool to help us manage short-term and short-notice surges in demand, whilst avoiding costly network reinforcement.”

SSEN has committed to invest in network infrastructure and flexibility to support 10 million EVs on GB roads by 2030 and is seeking views on its EV Strategy, which can be read here.