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Software solution could unlock capacity for thousands of EV chargers

New software that could enable hundreds of electric vehicle chargers to be served by a single electricity substation has been successfully trialled in the UK.

UK Power Networks has shown for the first time that more than 500 electric vehicles chargers could be served by a single electricity substation

The research by network operator UK Power Networks has shown for the first time that more than 500 electric vehicles chargers could be connected around a single electricity substation, using smart technology to distribute electrical load across the available infrastructure rather than building new cables and substations.

It’s a much-needed solution; the company forecasts up to 4.5 million electric vehicles in London, the South East and East of England by 2030. And with just one rapid EV charger using as much electricity capacity as a block of flats, proactively ‘creating space’ for new chargers is a key step in enabling the UK’s move to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The trial used an AI computer simulation to test Active Response software on a London substation, automatically moving electrical capacity around the network to safely accommodate more low-carbon technologies, such as electric vehicles or heat pumps.

The simulation was based on a substation in Tooting in south London. One of the simulations tested a ‘peak demand’ scenario in the evening when people are at home cooking, using electric heating and charging electric cars. The system identified a way to unlock 1,000kW of capacity – equivalent to 142 fast chargers – and there was scope for more from other cables.

As such, the experts at UK Power Networks believe the software solution could release capacity for 568 additional EV chargers in Tooting alone. There are 195 primary substations like this across London and 1,313 across the South East and East of England that share similarities – so the software has potential to enable thousands more fast chargers to be connected in other areas.

The project team, which includes CGI and Ricardo Energy & Environment as partners, is now preparing to trial the system on the live electricity network.

Ian Cameron, head of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “To reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we need to facilitate millions of electric vehicles and heat pumps and work even faster to connect more renewables. These results are exciting because they show that intelligent innovation can have a multiplier effect and make this future a reality.”

To find out more about the project, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news.

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