A trailblazing £8.5m project, which aims to accelerate the wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles and help meet ambitious climate change and air pollution targets in SP Energy Network’s Manweb area, has received the green light from Ofgem.
The energy regulator has awarded £6.85m from its Network Innovation Competition fund to the CHARGE project which will be trialled in Merseyside, Cheshire, north Shropshire and north Wales.
To achieve the UK’s Road to Zero environmental targets it is essential that the transport sector moves quickly to decarbonise. CHARGE will, for the first time in Britain, merge transport and electricity network planning to create an over-arching map of where EV charge points will be required and where they can be accommodated by the electricity grid.
CHARGE: Refuelling Tomorrow’s Electrified Transport will begin in January. It underlines SP Energy Networks’ commitment to delivering a better future, quicker for its customers and to do so at the lowest possible cost. It could save customers over £795m, in addition to reducing carbon emissions by 5.66 mtCO2 by 2050.
The remaining investment of £1.65m will be met by SP Energy Networks and its project partners. It is hoped that the project’s learning will also be extended to SP Energy Networks’ central and southern Scotland licence area.
Frank Mitchell, CEO of SP Energy Networks, said: “We are delighted that our determination to deliver a better future, quicker has received this support from Ofgem.
“It is essential that distribution network operators (DNOs) like SP Energy Networks facilitate the transition from petrol and diesel vehicles to EVs, and help governments to meet their climate change targets and cities to achieve the health benefits of improved air quality.”
“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.
“This will facilitate better planning of electricity networks and will provide vital information for all sectors involved in helping the transition to low carbon transport and create a cleaner, greener environment for us all.”
CHARGE will use information from transport planning software which maps driver behaviour and journey details when new roads are planned, SP Energy Networks hopes to predict where customers are likely to need EV charge points and judge the likely demand on the grid.
This co-ordination could create a blueprint approach to EV charger connections which can be adopted by other distribution network operators (DNOs) to plan for their own future network upgrades.
Scott Mathieson, SP Energy Networks Director of Network Planning and Regulation, said: “The correlation between the road network and the electricity network is not well understood.
“Where there is transport capacity, it does not necessarily mean there is electrical capacity as these networks have, in the past, developed entirely independently of each other. CHARGE will aim to put these two networks together and find an optimal solution for EV drivers.
“The increasing demand from EVs on the electricity networks accelerates the need to develop new connections solutions and improved ways to deliver network flexibility.
“DNOs need to be at the heart of ensuring the timely and optimised connection of EV charging infrastructure to avoid delays, and Charge will help us develop clear guidance and connection standards to expedite the uptake of EVs.”
The project has been welcomed by the Welsh Government. Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, said: “I’m delighted SP Energy Networks has succeeded in securing funding for the exciting new project CHARGE.
“We are already working with the Economy Secretary Ken Skates and across government to make sure Wales secures benefits from the transformation of the energy system which is under way. We look forward to partnering with SP Energy Networks to help prepare north and mid Wales for electric vehicles, and develop new approaches which will benefit the whole of Wales and the UK.”
Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for air quality, Councillor James Noakes, also welcomed the announcement.
He said: “Liverpool City Council is delighted to be named as a key partner with SP Energy Networks for their innovative project CHARGE. More people are realising the benefit of electric vehicles as well as recognising the impact their choice of travel has on us all.
“We are looking forward to working with SP Energy Networks to deliver some of the infrastructure for this. Electric vehicles can play a role in our Let’s Clear the Air Liverpool plan to reduce air pollution and make the city a better place, where the environment for walking and cycling is improved as well.”