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Management of plug-in vehicle uptake on distribution networks

Network operators
  • UK Power Networks
  • Northern Powergrid
  • Scottish Power Energy Networks
  • Western Power Distribution
  • Electricity North West Limited
  • Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution
  • Southern Electric Power Distribution
DurationMar 2016 - Jan 2018
Project expenditure430,000
Research areaCustomer focus groups will be held in SHEPD/SEPDs licence area/s; no other activity will be location-specific as the majority of project work to be undertaken in desk-based research and communication.

Contact: David MacLeman, Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution.

Project Description

The evidence from the LCNF project I2EV, also known as “My Electric Avenue” suggests that the advent of plugged-in vehicles (PIVs) will cause an impact on the local electricity network, which could require investment by DNOs. Mapping and modelling of the I2EV results, a project which was funded through the LCNF Tier 2 mechanism, indicates that 312,000 GB LV feeders (around 30%) will need reinforcement by 2050. In addition, transformers and other upstream assets will need upgrading. Industry trends towards higher power charging for vehicles with increasing battery capacities may further exacerbate this issue.

At present there is no standardised method of communicating with PIV chargers and a number of manufacturers have developed proprietary systems. Left alone, this will lead to a multitude of system types with little commonality which would make adoption of Esprit-type charge control much more difficult in the future. In order to ensure that Esprit is available when needed, we are setting out a plan, which will be developed through engagement across industry. There are two potential approaches: 

1. Ensure the Esprit-type capability is included in PIV chargers as they are installed 

2. Retrofit Esprit-type capability to PIV chargers in target locations as a need arises 

These approaches require very different strategies and will rely on engagement between the automotive and utilities sectors – and customers – to ensure their success. 

This project has been developed to provide the optimum solution to these challenges. 

The purpose of this project is to define an ENA Engineering Recommendation (or equivalent) that will allow the range of future chargers to interact with a common device located in the local distribution substation for the purpose of load management on the network.


The principal objective of this project is to agree content to inform an Engineering Recommendation (or equivalent) with a number of influential stakeholders. Once agreed, the content can be passed to the ENA to endorse the agreed approach of managing PIV uptake on electricity distribution networks. The secondary objective will be to agree on the message and approach for communicating with the PIV buyer, the media and other key stakeholders.

Expected Benefits

The success criteria is defined as: 

1. Industry accepted solution for managing PIV uptake on distribution networks that will avoid significant infrastructure costs or disruption 

2. Industry accepted customer messaging strategy and recommendations for implementation