There is no denying that the number of electric vehicles on our roads is going to dramatically increase over the next 5-10 years. There are countless benefits to this, however one thing that has been of concern to some people is the increased electrical demand on the National Grid. Luckily, the National Grid recently responded to this with a statement that the current grid could handle the entire country turning to EVs if we were all to charge with “Smart Chargers.”
What is a smart charger?
A smart charger is in many ways the same as a basic home charge point. It is a box on the wall that you plug your car into and it charges your car. The difference lies in the way the charger uses the electricity supplied by the grid.
A simple home charger simply draws as much power as the car/hardware will allow it to take, typically 3 – 7 kW. This could be bad news for the grid if half a million electric car owners all plug in at the same time. A smart charger is able to communicate with the grid to decide how much power it should take at any time without causing a problem. By increasing charge rates at low demand times (such as overnight) and decreasing charge rates at peak times a network of smart chargers are able to smooth out the overall power draw on the grid.
What about the free home charger?
The Electric Nation Project has been set up to trial smart chargers in the Western Power Distribution area. This includes a lot of our area in the South West and Midlands and can be seen on the small map below.
The project aims to fit free smart chargers to participating homes to measure the success and monitor the use of smart chargers in our region. Electric Nation describe their aims as such:
The Electric Nation project has a number of aims. Firstly, it seeks to increase understanding of the impact of charging a variety of EVs on the local electricity network. This includes understanding the way that charging behaviour is impacted by different battery sizes and charging rates. The trial will also investigate a smart charging system that may help local network operators manage car charging on their networks to alleviate potential issues. This smart charging system will interact with participants’ smart chargers (provided by the trial) to manage car charging. The smart charging system will balance the capacity of the electricity network with customers’ needs to use their EVs. The project will then investigate the acceptability to customers of delaying vehicle charging or changing the charging rate.
How do I apply?
All the information required to apply can be found on the Electric Nation Website. We have applied to join the project as we would love to help with smart charging research. We do not yet know if we have been accepted however the application and eligibility checks were pretty quick and simple.
If you manage to get a free charger from The Electric Nation Project please comment below to let us know how it’s going.
What if I’m not eligible?
If you are out of the project area or not accepted for the project then do not be disheartened. More projects like this are sure to come up over time as more research is carried out. Keep an eye on the Drive Green blog and Facebook for updates on projects like these. If you need a different home charge point installed or simply don’t have time to wait for another project then visit our home charge point page to look at the range of chargepoints Drive Green can install for you.