One of the knocks against electric vehicles has been the ability of the grid to handle the added load if many people in a certain cluster are plugging in their vehicles at the same time.
It may not be a present concern, given the relatively small numbers of EVs being charged at any given time, but it’s a feasible one if the numbers escalate the way industry watchers predict they will. A UK consortium is hoping to gain a better understanding of increased electricity consumption on local networks, to see if networks will be able to cope with the added demand.
The OpenLV project (led by Western Power Distribution and EA Technology) wants to open up local electricity usage data to provide network operators with the information they need about levels of capacity available for charging electric vehicles. Network operators don’t currently have enough information on spare capacity, and therefore don’t know if a cluster of EVs charging at the same time during peak time will demand over the limit.
“The OpenLV project is making local electricity network data ‘open access’ for the first ever time. This presents a great opportunity for smart thinking and innovation,” says Mark Dale, Innovation Manager, Western Power Distribution. “We’re inviting people, ranging from community groups to industry stakeholders, to come up with novel ideas for apps that can make use of this data.”
If the data collected indicates there would be a capacity issue, then it may lead to other initiatives — smart charging, vehicle to grid technology, energy storage, handshaking between networks, etc. — which would be less costly than boosting network capacity.
“We’re at an exciting point where different sectors such as automotive, energy and IT have opportunities to come together to help the UK move towards a smart electricity grid,” says Richard Potter, EA Technology’s OpenLV Project Manager. “Innovative ideas about apps that could offer people benefits are welcomed from all sectors, as well as from the energy industry itself.”