A new project that will aim to provide a solution to the potential impact that the recharging of electric vehicles (EVs) may have on the local electricity network has been approved for Low Carbon Networks funding by Ofgem.

As sales of electric vehicles increase, there is a need to assess, early in the process, the potential impact that a cluster of EVs may have in a local area served by one electricity substation. In the event of all EVs being recharged at the same time, and without any preparation, the load on the local electricity network may exceed the substation capacity.

The ‘I2EV’ project is led by EA Technology, a third party innovation technology deliverer, with project partners Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) (the host Distribution Network Operator, or DNO), Northern Powergrid (collaborating DNO), Nissan (EV supplier), Fleetdrive (EV rental programme management) and Charge Your Car (charging point network developer). In addition there are two academic partners, the University of Manchester (providing network modelling support), and De Montfort University (providing socio-economic modelling support).

Local electricity networks are managed by Distribution Network Operators (DNOs). The host DNO participating in this project is SSEPD, however, the I2EV project has been conceived by, and will be managed by, a non-DNO, EA Technology.

The I2EV project will provide essential learning about managing the strain on the distribution network from the anticipated increased uptake of electric vehicles. It will also deliver a cost effective solution to DNOs that reduces the need for network reinforcement, allows a faster uptake of EVs, and demonstrates a new project delivery framework by a third party project lead.

The project has received support from Ofgem through the Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund. The fund supports projects sponsored by the DNOs to try out new technology, operating and commercial arrangements. The objective of the fund is to support projects that help DNOs understand what they need to do to provide security of supply, at value for money, as the UK moves to a low carbon economy.

Stewart Reid, future networks and policy manager, SSE, said, “This project has the potential to prevent risks with local electricity networks from electric vehicle clusters and to save significant amounts of money that may otherwise have to be invested in upgrading the networks. The project will deliver a low carbon solution to benefit customers and the network.”

Dave Roberts, EA Technology’s future networks director, commented, “The I2EV project will address a real issue that is likely to develop based on forecasts for the increased uptakes of EVs. From the perspective of the energy industry, this is the first time a non-Distribution Network Operator will lead and manage a Low Carbon Networks Fund project, and it will create a blueprint for how DNOs and third parties can work together in the future.”

Olivier Paturet, Nissan’s general manager, Zero Emissions Strategy, added, “Nissan is delighted to be part of a project that takes such a responsible view about the ability of the electricity network to cope with the increased uptake of electric vehicles. The project will play a key role in supporting growth of the EV market.”

The I2EV project is due to run from January 2013 to December 2015.