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Electricity networks driving change for electric vehicles

16 September 2021

Alex Audu, ENA's LCT Programme Manager, wrote in Utility Week on #WorldEVDay about how electricity networks were supporting electric vehicles.


As more and more electric vehicles hit the road, the electricity networks are driving change on the road to Net Zero and are ready to make sure that customers get all the benefits from their new vehicles.

Since 2019, the amount of EVs on the road has increased by a staggering 205%. To help make sure that drivers are able to charge their EVs, the number of public charging points have increased by 51%.

Alex Audu

To help manage this increase, in May this year we announced with Ofgem an accelerated £300m strategic investment to free up capacity on the electricity networks, at least half of which will be used to support electric vehicles across the whole country.

Along with putting plans in place to electrify their own fleets and supporting record levels of flexibility services, the network operators are taking steps to help all motorists charge their vehicles while managing their grids in the most efficient way possible.

In July this year, we slashed red tape with a new, streamlined connections process making it easier for EVs, including vehicle-to-grid, and heat pumps to be connected to the electricity networks.

This is being taken a step further by SP Energy Networks who are developing an app, in collaboration with ENA, to make it even easier for connecting customers. The iDentify app, an industry first, will combine smartphone camera capabilities and Artificial Intelligence image recognition to capture up to date asset information via field staff and crowdsourcing by low carbon technology installers.  

Digitalisation of processes like this unlock real potential to streamline operations and enable us to move at pace to respond to the ever-evolving needs of our customers and communities.

As we celebrate World EV Day, here’s just some of the projects that the electricity networks are doing to #DriveChange and support motorists as they #GoEV.

Electricity North West: Reflect

The required network planning to facilitate EV charging depends not only on the future volumes of private and commercial EVs, but also on the location and capacity of the charging adopted. The Reflect project will produce prototype tools and methodologies that can be used by Distribution Network Operators to improve the electricity demand forecasting for EV charging by reflecting the regional uncertainties around slow and ultra fast EV charging.

National Grid: EV100

National Grid has signed up to EV100, a global initiative launched by the Climate Group that brings together companies committed to the transition to electric vehicles. The commitment to integrate EVs into the fleet and support EV uptake within the workforce by providing charging facilities at National Grid’s premises. That means electrifying 2,879 vehicles in the UK and 2,905 vehicles in the US. National Grid also made a commitment for 289 charging sites in the UK and to continue adding 2,900 owned-chargers for internal fleets to the 1,400 points already deployed in US territories.

Northern Powergrid: SilentPower

Following a successful innovation trial, Northern Powergrid has rolled out three electric vehicles that can help get the lights back on for homes and business with new SilentPower vans. The electric vehicles, which each have an on-board energy storage system, can be used to replace noisy and polluting diesel generators; quickly and quietly restoring power to homes and businesses during certain power cut or essential maintenance works. A SilentPower vehicle can quietly power up to three homes, a small business or a small community centre with just one van for 24 hours – even longer if the homes have domestic solar generation.

SP Energy Networks: Project PACE

Project PACE is exploring the benefits of having a distribution network operator involved in the various stages of deploying universally accessible public EV charger infrastructure, including costs and delivery timescales. The Project PACE team at SP Energy Networks is working in collaboration with Transport Scotland and Local Authorities to deliver up to 180 new public chargers in more than 40 locations across Lanarkshire, targeting areas and communities where the commercial market has not yet delivered and is unlikely to in the short to medium term.

SSEN: Equal EV

Ensuring EV infrastructure is accessible and inclusive will be critical for the UK’s 2.9 million blue badge holders. Equal EV is examining the barriers and challenges vulnerable and disabled motorists face in the transition to EVs and how to best address them. SSEN is working with Disabled Motoring UK and Energy Systems Catapult to identify the obstacles and find the solutions to deliver a fairer transport system for all. Equal EV is exploring exciting opportunities such as utilising EVs to act as backup power supply for vulnerable households in the event of a power cut, and the information and support consumers need to give them the confidence to make the switch.

UK Power Networks: Charge Collective

A blueprint to plug the gaps in Electric Vehicle (EV) charge point availability and offer solutions for areas where the market is struggling to deliver is being created by ‘Charge Collective’ – a UK Power Networks collaboration with five local authorities in London and the East of England. Charge Collective, which has potential to be scaled up across the country, will set out how to incentivise investment in EV public charging infrastructure in areas with limited provision.

Western Power Distribution: Powered Up

Building on the previous success of Electric Nation, WPD’s Powered Up project is looking at the impact of vehicle-to-grid charging on the low voltage network by using end-user trial charging data and analysis. The project will demonstrate to what extent vehicle-to-grid can help with management of network demand provide recommendations for policy and commercial frameworks on vehicle-to-grid services.

Notes to editor

Article first appeared in Utility Week on 9 September

About us

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the energy networks. Our members include every major electricity network operator in the UK. The electricity networks are at the heart of the energy transition. They directly employ more than 26,000 people in the UK, including 1,500 apprentices. They are spending and investing £33bn in our electricity grids over the coming years, to ensure safe, reliable and secure energy supplies for the millions of homes and businesses reliant on power every day.

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