New project seeks to make electric vehicle charging more accessible


NEW collaboration between electricity network distributors seeks to find a new way of delivering rapid electric vehicle charging hubs by focusing on people with no access to off-street parking.

Western Power Distribution has joined forces with Electricity North West and engineering and environmental consultancy company Ricardo.

The three-year, £5.6million trial, called DC Share, is being funded via Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition.

It aims to interconnect substations via AC/DC converters and DC cable so latent electricity can be used to power rapid chargers.

To date significant investment has been on facilitating electric vehicle charging solutions for off-street charging.

This project focuses on the 40 percent of car users with no access to off-street parking, further enabling the take up of electric vehicles.

Innovation and Low Carbon Network Engineer Ricky Duke said: “Rapid chargers use a lot of power and to install them often requires reinforcing the network to allow for the extra load, which can be costly.

“But load profiles are different for each substation: those with domestic loads don’t, typically, have much demand during the day while those with a commercial profile have less demand in the evenings.

“This trial aims to see whether connecting them on a DC network rather than our usual AC infrastructure will enable us to power a rapid charging hub by sharing its demand between the substations.

“On paper it looks like an exciting solution that will enable us to ensure there is enough power for rapid charging hubs across the network.

“Not only will this help customers who do not have off-road parking but it will also help with the ‘range anxiety’ that puts many people off switching to electric vehicles.”

The project will be led by Ricardo using Western Power Distribution’s network.

Electricity North West’s role is to ensure that the trial can be replicated across other operators’ networks, making it a nationwide solution.

The project is now going to be mobilised with the first activity for the partners to locate the optimal location to host the trial.

Jonathan Berry, Innovation Manager at Western Power Distribution, said: “This is one of a number of projects Western Power Distribution is working on to help meet the country’s net zero carbon targets, focusing on the connection of low carbon technologies like electric vehicles, while keeping customers’ lights on and costs down.

“It’s an exciting and challenging time but something we are determined to get right for our customers and this project aims to deliver advanced solutions and facilitate opportunities for customers to further adopt these advancing technologies efficiently and effectively.”