SSEN seeks views on managed charging solutions to aid smooth EV transition

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has today (23 March) launched a consultation on Managed Electric Vehicle Charging, seeking views on proposed solutions to help avoid potential overloads on local electricity networks caused by sharp increases in the use of electric vehicles.

The consultation forms part of SSEN’s Smart EV project, undertaken alongside technology partners EA Technology and supported by GB distribution network operators. The project, funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance, set out to review and research charging solutions that will allow the transition to electric vehicles to take place with minimum disruption to customers and avoiding unnecessary network reinforcement.

Local electricity distribution networks are designed around traditional energy use patterns and, as progress accelerates towards the electrification of transport, network operators currently have limited visibility of the scale and ‘clustering’ of new electric vehicles until they occur.

The primary focus of the consultation is to seek views on an interim solution to address emergency situations, where local networks have faulted, or are likely to fault, based on a rapid increase in demand. The proposed solution involves installing a device at both the local substation and, as an option, in domestic properties to monitor load and temporarily adjust EV charging where required.

The solution is designed to provide a low-cost option to reduce customer disruption before a long-term reinforcement of the network can be made or agreed market solutions are established, such as the creation of specific energy tariffs to drive consumer behaviour at an extremely local level. As part of the consultation, views are also welcomed on a long-term option of using smart meters to adjust charging rates as a means for protecting the electricity networks.

Today’s announcement follows two well-attended stakeholder events in Glasgow and London, which featured keynote addresses from Chris Stark, Director of Energy and Climate Change, Scottish Government and Natasha Robinson, Head of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

Stewart Reid, Head of Innovation and DSO at Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks said:

“SSEN fully supports the desire to decarbonise the UK transport fleet and welcomes recent moves by both the UK and Scottish governments to set ambitious targets on the phase out of ICE vehicles.

“While the speed and scale of the transition to electric vehicles is still to become clear, as a network operator, it is our job to ensure this transition is as smooth as it can be, avoiding disruption to customers and any unnecessary increase in costs.

“Through the Smart EV project, SSEN is working ahead of need to develop a cost-effective, readily-deployable solution to address the challenge of clusters of EVs on our local electricity networks, until such time as long-term market solutions are suitably established. We welcome any views through the consultation process.”

Tim Nicklin, Chair of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)’s EV Technical Working Group added:

“SMMT welcomes the Smart EV project and its engaged approach to finding suitable technical solutions. We need to make sure that any solution adopted by industry is future-proof and works with and for the EV driver.”

The consultation closes on Monday 30 April.