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WPD welcomes Ofgem EV strategy on World EV Day

A blog to mark #WorldEVDay written by Paul Jewell, WPD System Development Manager.

Ofgem EV strategy on the right track, industry now needs to deliver

This week Ofgem released its electric vehicle strategy which outlines how the regulator intends to support the rapid transition to EVs, at a fair cost to consumers. The report was the latest to be published to look at the electric vehicle revolution and what is needed in order to facilitate the mass adoption of EVs.

The strategy is welcome, as is the general direction of travel from Ofgem. As the strategy outlines, the regulator is supporting DNOs to ensure that the network is ready for the influx of EVs and new connections. The announcement in May of over £150 million investment in rapid chargers and the development of EV infrastructure, some of which will be on WPD’s network, will ensure that operators are prepared for the increased demand on the network.

At WPD, we were the first DNO to publish a dedicated EV Strategy. As a network operator, we have led the way in facilitating access to charging infrastructure and also in developing innovative solutions to some of the challenges posed by the installation of EV chargers and the need for greater capacity. Our strategy outlines our commitment to improving the network to ensure that everyone who needs to access an EV charger can do so. 

Our innovation programme is a key part of realizing this. As the Ofgem strategy states, making connections to the energy network easier will be key if we are to ensure access to chargers. Greater access to rapid chargers will be integral if we are to tackle concerns surrounding taking longer journeys in EVs and the dreaded “range anxiety”. 

Unfortunately for many motorway service stations, where these rapid chargers are most needed, the installation is costly, disruptive and requires a significant amount of land. Our Take Charge project is developing a low-cost, modular solution for rapid charging at service stations. In partnership with Moto, our innovation team is designing, testing and trialing brand new technology which will provide up to 12MVA of capacity, enough to power around 35 rapid chargers, via a compact, low-cost connection solution. The result will be a pre-constructed and pre-packaged ‘one size fits all’ solution. It will have the capacity to enable large scale, high power, rapid EV charging at service stations and importantly, it will cater for the projected levels of demand at these locations from increased EV uptake. Our calculations suggest that it offers a cost saving of nearly £0.5m per site, compared to a typical rapid charger installation. The solution will be installed and trialed at a Moto site later this year and could be a gamechanger for rapid roadside charging.

Another challenge for DNOs is to bring EV charging to the network without needing substantial upgrades in capacity. Our DC Share project aims to develop a charging solution which uses smart technology to unlock spare electrical capacity to power rapid EV chargers. We are working with Somerset West and Taunton Council on a trial which will see 15 rapid chargers installed in Taunton town centre later this year. The chargers will have the capacity to fully recharge the average electric vehicle in around 30 minutes. We believe that the technology used will be particularly useful in dense urban communities, where the adoption of low carbon technologies is slower due to constraints and a lack of available space for building a larger network of substations.

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