Shifting EV charging away from peak times

Posted: 26 May 2020

Overview

PROJECT NAME

Shift

DURATION

August 2019 - February 2021

FUNDING

£1.3m Network Innovation Fund

CONNECTED DEVICES

300 Smart+ Chargers

Project Partners

OBJECTIVE

Explore the use of market mechanisms such as ‘time of use’ distribution price signals (DUoS) to facilitate domestic electric vehicle smart charging at scale and shift charging away from peak times. 

Electric vehicles and the local network

With the UK placing a ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from 2035, enabling the switch to electric is a national priority. The uptake of electric vehicles has the potential to add tens of GWs peak demand over the coming decade. Intelligently managing smart EV charging will therefore be critical in the transition to a flexible, zero carbon grid.

 UK Power Networks is the largest UK DNO, responsible for operating and maintaining the most densely populated distribution network in the UK, serving over 8 million customers. There are 89,000 EVs connected to UK Power Networks’ network, a figure that is projected to grow to 4.1 million by 2030. UK Power Networks is exploring innovative ways of accommodating significant numbers of EVs charging at peak times, helping to facilitate the decarbonisation of UK’s transportation sector. 

"Smart charger optimisation stands to transform the country’s energy network. The Shift trial will go a long way in helping us gauge the potential of innovations like Kaluza’s in shaping a more customer-centric and renewables-driven energy system."
- Ian Cameron, Head of Innovation - UK Power Networks

Optimising charging through ‘time of use’

300 smart chargers, largely within UK Power Networks’ footprint, have been connected to the Kaluza platform. By taking intelligent control, Kaluza is testing the effectiveness of different ‘time of use’ DUoS charges to influence charging outside of peak times, when the DUoS charge is lower.

Kaluza’s AI platform receives wholesale electricity pricing data in real time and combines it with the DUoS price feed from UK Power Networks and ‘other’ supply costs. Kaluza will shift EV charging away from peak times on the network based on the pricing signals it receives, unless overridden by the end user. Kaluza’s optimisation algorithms will then take control of EV charging so that it occurs at times of low wholesale price, or times when abundant clean energy is on the grid.

This enables Kaluza to test how smart charging technologies will respond on a network with a ‘time of use’ DUoS charge and how flexible devices can alleviate stress on the network.

Learnings so far

Kaluza will prove how ‘time of use’ DUoS price signals can shift EV charging away from times of high demand. Network operators will also gain insights into how customers use their smart chargers and EVs and how market-led smart charging can help minimise the impacts of electric vehicles on the network.   

 To date, the trial has given insights into:

  1. Customer plug-in and charging behaviours
  2. Average EV charging profiles
  3. The effect of unmanaged vs. managed EV charging on total household loads
  4. The influence of different time of use DUoS pricing structures on EV charging.

Looking Ahead

Kaluza and UK Power Networks will work to understand the impacts and merits of intelligent charging for smart charger owners and the network as a whole. 

Areas of focus will include:

  1. Quantifying how different DUoS price signals influence how much EV charging is shifted away from peak network times (through Kaluza’s intelligent EV management)
  2. Assessing the synergies between this incentive and other market mechanisms (cash out price, TNUoS)
  3. Assessing the potential for this approach at scale and conducting consumer research to better understand customer motivations and experiences throughout the trial
  4. Explore whether this optimisation mechanism reduces diversity in EV charging, encouraging synchronisation of charging sessions (creating a new charging peak).
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