The UK’s first road of electric cars – ‘the street of the future’ – has been created in Marlow by the ground-breaking ‘My Electric Avenue’ project.
Nine neighbours are now receiving delivery of their all-electric Nissan LEAFs from Fleetdrive Electric to use over 18 months in order to test a new technology that will monitor and control the electricity demand from charging electric cars. The project, which is led by EA Technology and hosted by Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) aims to discover essential learning about managing the local electricity network as sales of cars with ‘plug-in’ capability continue to rise.
My Electric Avenue is focusing on how best to manage the network when a large number of Electric Vehicles (EVs) charge in the same street at the same time. It is also the first trial that directly controls domestic EV charging to prevent underground cables, overhead lines and substations being overloaded. The project aims to prove a solution that would avoid the need to dig up the roads to install higher capacity electric cables.
One of the trial participants, Caroline Birkbeck, says: “The Nissan LEAF is the perfect car for short and medium length journeys. It’s also incredibly cheap to recharge, with running costs of just 10-15% of our diesel car. I’m delighted to be part of this trial, it’s already showing that electric vehicles are an ideal form of transport today, and they are likely to become even more popular as their technology develops in the future.”
My Electric Avenue set out around a year ago to recruit groups of neighbours on the same street in ten different locations – including some workplace-based clusters – to drive electric cars as part of its Ofgem-supported trial.
Marlow is the first of eleven ‘clusters’ around Britain that are currently receiving deliveries of Nissan LEAFs, charging points, and equipment that monitors and controls charging. The other ‘residential clusters’ are in Chineham, Chiswick, Lyndhurst, South Gosforth and Wylam, with two more based in South Shields. In addition there are two ‘workplace-based clusters’: Slough Borough Council and Your Homes Newcastle.
The project has exceeded Ofgem’s recruitment and customer engagement targets, by achieving 111 signed lease contracts overall in the technical trials when 100 were required; recruiting 8 clusters with 10 people in each when 7 clusters of 10 were required; and recruiting 11 clusters overall in the technical trials when 10 clusters in total were required.
A key reason for the recruitment for the trials being so successful is due to ‘cluster champions’ in local communities taking up the challenge of recruiting their neighbours through leaflet dropping, door knocking, and even holding community coffee mornings to drum up support. My Electric Avenue would like to extend its thanks to all cluster champions, who have been so enthusiastic to lead clusters in their local community.
EA Technology has developed and is delivering the £9m My Electric Avenue project, as well as providing the technology used as part of the trial. The project also includes a number of other Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including Fleetdrive Electric and Zero Carbon Futures (ZCF). This is the first time a private company, EA Technology, rather than an electricity company (i.e. a Distribution Network Operator or DNO) has led and managed an Ofgem Low Carbon Networks Fund project, proving that SMEs can deliver on such projects.
Although the Technical trials are now fully subscribed, My Electric Avenue’s Social trials are still open for business. The Social trials are designed to complement the information gathered during the Technical trials and participants can lease a new 100% electric Nissan LEAF at a specially negotiated rate for 18 months. Applicants can be individuals or groups and there’s no requirement to have any technology installed in the home. Spaces in the Social trials are limited and so the cars will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. More information is available at www.myelectricavenue.info