DriveElectric Gains Insights on EV Charging

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DriveElectric, an electric vehicle (EV) specialist with over 20 years of leasing, examines charging behaviours and attitudes of electric vehicle users through their three-year Electric Nation trial.

Around 700 EV drivers from the Midlands, South West and South Wales, were recruited by DriveElectric to participate in a three-year project, half of which tested DriveElectric’s Crowd Charge app that enabled them to interact with the smart-charging system that was installed in their houses.

The trial covered 40 different makes and models of a plug-in, battery-electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) that had different battery sizes. Data was collected from more than a million charging records during this project to understand:

  1. the impact of home charging on local electricity networks;
  2. the amount of energy consumed;
  3. the reliability and acceptability of the system;
  4. the popular charging times (5-7 pm, after work);
  5. the number of hours EVs were charged for (12 hours); and
  6. the frequency of charging.

Recently, Electric Nation, the world’s largest home smart-charging project, announced the results at the ‘Smart Charged’ conference at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon.

The results indicated that smart-charging can be used to manage charging away from peak electricity demand periods and can allow EV drivers to charge at home while reducing the need for upgrades to electricity networks.; thus, saving money.

On average, vehicles were plugged in for over 12 hours every day but only took electricity for 1.5 hours in the time. Time of Use incentives, like offering cheaper electricity rates during off-peak times, were effective at moving the demand away from the evening peak, which required management. Smart-charging assists with the management of Time of Use-based charging.

The Electric Nation project was hosted by Western Power Distribution (WPD) and delivered by EA technology, DriveElectric, Lucy Electric GridKey, and TRL. The project was funded via Ofgem through its Network Innovative Allowance scheme.

Mike Potter, Managing Director and Founder at DriveElectric, said “The Electric Nation project shows that smart charging can help to reduce the load on the grid from EVs at peak times, and there has been an overwhelming positive attitude towards smart charging from participants. We have also trialled our Crowd Charge app, and this has proven that the platform works and that EV owners can benefit from lower cost and lower emission electricity without changing their use of their EV. I’d like to thank all the EV drivers who have taken part in the Electric Nation project for providing such valuable insights and essential data, which can be used to inform the development of smart charging.”

Participants were financially incentivized to change their charging habits, to address possible distribution network congestion issues due to home EV charging. Moreover, the results also indicated that the charging usually happened while the battery was already more than 50% full, even though the drivers charged their EVs only three times a week. The PHEVs consumed less power for shorter periods.

As a continuation of the Electric Nation project, DriveElectric is running a mini feasibility trial to examine the impact of home-based, production Vehicle to Grid (V2G) chargers installed in customer’ homes in the UK, that provide grid services such as charging demand reduction or exporting power from the car battery to the local electricity network.

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