As we prepare for the network of the future, SP Energy Networks is playing a significant role in the decarbonisation of transport, and is leading on innovative approaches that will support local authorities and beyond to better serve their communities.
As a society, a low carbon future is now the common goal. Not only are the health benefits very clear, we’ll also see a sustainable future for businesses, vital infrastructure, and the economy as a whole, becoming real tangible advantages along the way.
Amongst all of this, it’s crucial for local authorities to be equipped with the tools and resources to allow them to achieve their own carbon reduction targets, as we are then stronger together than the sum of our parts.
At the forefront of these low carbon efforts is the electrification of heat and transport, particularly as the wider government drives net zero targets and encourage or incentivise the uptake of the alternative options that are now available. At SP Energy Networks, we are leading on innovative thinking and developments that will support those sorts of shifts - particularly at the local authority level.
Our globally innovative CHARGE project delves into the world of electric vehicles, which have been on the market for some time now and are becoming increasingly popular, but which still have perceived barriers to entry. One of the biggest concerns consumers have when considering switching to an EV is the availability of charging facilities. Will they be in the right places and readily available to ensure the journey in an EV is just as hassle free as it would be in the petrol or diesel alternative?
Whilst it is expected the majority of EV charging will take place at home or in the work place, there will still be a need for on-street and public charge points. These may be required by those who do not have a driveway – e.g. those who live in flats, apartments or terraced houses. Charging facilities are likely to also be required at public destinations such as leisure and shopping centres, tourist attractions, or filling station forecourts. But how will local authorities, and in particular their urban planning teams, know where to put them?
For the first time in the UK, the CHARGE project will bring together the expertise from transport and electrical network planning. Our project partner PTV will build a full transport model of the SP Manweb Licence Area that will be utilised to simulate the uptake and movement of EVs out to 2050. Through doing so it will highlight locations of high demand for public charging and the most appropriate type of charger based on the dwell time and travel distance of the EVs. This same data will identify where areas of network will be incapable of providing the increase in electricity demand and network investment or smart solutions are required to meet EV charging requirements.
Frank Mitchell, CEO of SP Energy Networks, who will be speaking at Smarter Tomorrow, said: 'For the first time in Britain, we will merge the disciplines of transport planning and electricity network planning to discover where charge points will be required and how the network would be impacted by them.'
Since the project commenced, we have been working closely with local authorities such as Liverpool City Council, Cheshire West and Chester, and the Welsh Government. This engagement has been to identify their plans and aspirations for the roll-out of public charging infrastructure and to seek their participation in cutting edge trials within CHARGE.
Through our project partner Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS), we are also undertaking a large scale trial and evaluation of a range of smart charging solutions. We believe these solutions play a crucial role in releasing additional network capacity for EVs without the immediate need for network reinforcement. The ability to control chargers enables them to mitigate network risks whilst minimising the disruption encountered by customers.
All of our endeavours will culminate in the delivery of a ground-breaking self-service tool for the connection of public charging infrastructure. The “ConnectMore” platform, delivered by EA Technology, will bring together the transport and network models to allow users to assess the likely utilisation of chargers at any given location, the available network capacity and an indicative cost for connection. Where the network capacity is constrained, “ConnectMore” will present the user with a range of smart charging solutions and provide indicative costs and an overview of the level of constraint that the solution might introduce – all of which will be informed by the trials undertaken in CHARGE.
We believe that “ConnectMore” will become a vital tool for a wide range of users looking to invest in public charging infrastructure, not least of all local authorities. It will enable them to quickly assess the options for connection and select the most appropriate locations based on the cost of connection and likely utilisation. CHARGE will inevitably become a key enabler for local authorities, community groups, workplaces and retail and leisure businesses planning their EV infrastructure needs.
Through achievements like those the CHARGE project will reach, we can deliver a better future, quicker for our customers and provide local authorities with the means to successfully support the communities they serve.
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