The UK is striving to develop a electric network across the country to support the implementation of Electric Vehicles.

  • Smart chargers are now installed for the EVs of all participants and Electric Nation moves into final phase of learning from the trial
  • Smart charging can be a key solution to the impact of increasing numbers of EVs on the electricity network

The Electric Nation project has installed its final smart charger as part of its trial with electric vehicle (EV) owners. The project will now be assessing the smart charging technology and feedback from trial participants.

This milestone for the Electric Nation project was reached at the same time that the UK Government published its ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, which lays out a roadmap for increased EV adoption. Plans for higher and faster levels of EV uptake are likely to lead to challenges with the capacity of local electricity networks at peak electricity demand times – smart charging can provide a solution to this problem.

Smart charging is also due to be mandated in the government’s ‘Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill’ which has now passed through Parliament. This could enable a wide range of services that could reduce the overall cost of charging for EV drivers who predominantly charge at home and also enable local network protection at the same time.

Electric Nation, one of Western Power Distribution’s (WPD) innovation projects, with collaboration partners EA Technology, DriveElectric, Lucy Electric GridKey and TRL, has been successful in achieving its recruitment targets, with over 40 different makes and models of EVs taking part, installing 673 domestic smart chargers.

One of the final smart charger installs was for Sunny Vara, who had a charger fitted to coincide with taking delivery of a new Tesla. Sunny was very positive about the Electric Nation project, commenting: “The entire process from applying to be part of the trial to having the smart charger installed was seamless, and it’s now extremely easy to charge my car at home. I’m looking forward to finding out what we can learn from the data generated by the project, as well as discovering the cost savings from running an electric car compared with having to visit a fuel station to fill up with petrol.”

The final smart charger installation is the climax of more than two years of hard work for the Electric Nation team, in particular DriveElectric, the partner that has been leading the recruitment for the trial since late 2016.

Mike Potter, Managing Director of DriveElectric, adds: “The high level of interest that we’ve received from EV drivers to be participants in Electric Nation has reinforced the view that we’re now at a tipping point with EVs. In the next two years we’re likely to see a significant rise in the numbers of EVs on our roads, so it’s all the more important that our Electric Nation participants are engaging with us so enthusiastically to trial smart charging in advance of an expected roll-out of such technology nationwide.

“I’d also like to thank the team here at DriveElectric for all their excellent work engaging with participants, which includes dealing with over 3,000 enquiries for 700 spaces on the trial.”

Electric Nation’s initial findings show that on average, vehicles are plugged in for 12 hours, but they are rarely charging for the full time. This suggests that there is likely to be sufficient flexibility to manage charging away from peak electricity demand periods. This will be explored in more detail as the trial continues during the remainder of 2018.

Mark Dale, Innovation Project Manager, Western Power Distribution, comments “I am very pleased that the Electric Nation team has met this important milestone. We are really looking forward to gaining a better understanding of how smart charging works, and how customers feel about it, in the real world.”

The Electric Nation trial is taking place in the WPD network areas in the Midlands, South West and South Wales.

For more information visit

Twitter @electricnation_


Image caption
One of the final Electric Nation EV home smart chargers is installed for trial participant Sunny Vara

Further high resolution images are available.

Members of the Electric Nation team are available for interview/expert comment.

Notes to Editors 

About Electric Nation
Data shows that across Britain at least 32% of electricity supply cables (312,000 in all) may require intervention when 40% – 70% of customers have electric vehicles. Intervention using smart technology, rather than digging up the roads to install new cables, has been predicted to give an economic saving of more than £2.2 billion by 2050.

The Electric Nation trial aims to:

1) Expand current understanding of the impact on electricity distribution networks of charging a diverse range of plug-in electric vehicles at home.

2) Build a better understanding of how vehicle usage affects charging behaviour given diversity of charging rate and battery size.

3) Evaluate the reliability and acceptability to owners of EVs of demand management services and the influence these have on charging behaviour.

Electric Nation collaboration partners
The Electric Nation project is hosted by Western Power Distribution (WPD). It is delivered by the following collaboration partners:

  • EA Technology
  • DriveElectric (a brand name of Fleetdrive Management)
  • Lucy Electric GridKey
  • TRL

Western Power Distribution
The host Distribution Network Operator, providing funding through its Network Innovation Allowance, and direction to the project.

EA Technology
EA Technology is responsible for the co-ordination of the customer trial, testing smart charging algorithms, simulating distribution network capacity profiles, co-ordinating customer research activities and trial data analysis and reporting. EA Technology is also responsible for project marketing, PR and dissemination. As part of the project, EA Technology will be developing a low voltage network assessment software-tool for WPD that will incorporate learning from the customer trial and enable WPD to assess local distribution networks’ tolerance of EV charging and the viability of smart charging to ameliorate local network capacity problems.

Responsible for recruiting participants and all customer-facing activity.

Lucy Electric GridKey
Lucy Electric is monitoring local LV substations with the GridKey system, with the aim of assessing the load profile of various types of electric vehicles and developing an algorithm that can automatically detect the presence of EVs charging on the network.

Providing project oversight.

In addition, there are a number of supporting collaborators:

CrowdCharge and GreenFlux
Providing the demand control service which will send signals to the smart chargers.

Impact Research
Conducting customer research.

Alfen and eVolt Charging Equipment
Providing the smart chargers.

About the Electric Nation collaboration partners

Western Power Distribution
Western Power Distribution (WPD) is the distribution network operator for the Midlands, South West England and South Wales, and is responsible for delivering electricity to approximately 7.8 million customers in the UK. WPD is not an electricity supply company and does not bill customers in the UK. Its responsibility is to distribute electricity from the point of generation to homes and businesses.

EA Technology
EA Technology is the recognised UK authority on the impact of electric vehicles (EVs) on the electricity network, and the pioneer of smart solutions to mitigate this impact. EA Technology is an employee-owned organisation offering high-tech instruments, software, electrical services and technical consultancy to the operators of power networks around the world. Through its Smart Interventions business it delivers innovative end-to-end solutions to facilitate the introduction of low carbon technologies to future proof electricity networks, resulting in lower cost connections, prompt adoption and reduced risk to business.

DriveElectric is a trading name of Fleetdrive Management Ltd. Established in 1995, the company based in Marlow, Buckinghamshire has been the UK’s leading provider of leased ultra-low emission vehicles since 2011. Providing both business and personal vehicle leasing solutions, for all makes and models of vehicle, DriveElectric delivers expertise, impartial advice and excels in engaging customers in support of a low carbon transport future.

Lucy Electric GridKey
Lucy Electric GridKey has developed low voltage monitoring systems which are deployed at a large number of sites across the UK as well as a data centre capable of running advanced analytics on the data from the monitoring.

TRL (the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory) provides independent and impartial world-class research and consultancy for all aspects of transport. Commercially independent and with more than 80 years of knowledge and experience embedded in its history, TRL’s work encompasses a breadth of areas that shape and form today’s transport decisions including safety, highway engineering and maintenance, sustainability, attitudes and behaviours, simulation and modelling, climate change, engineering, product development, standards and specifications.

Electric Nation Contact
Vicky Reed
Phone: 0333 300 1050
Email: [email protected]

Western Power DistributionContact
Tracy Carr
Phone: 0117 933 2005

Media Contact (and for images)
Paul Clarke
Automotive Comms
T. +44 (0)7866 770 029
[email protected]

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