In a UK first, ten groups of neighbours are being sought to drive electric cars for 18 months as part of a new trial that will look at ways of managing their impact on the local electricity grid. The pioneering ‘My Electric Avenue’ project aims to find ten clusters, each of at least ten community-minded people, to drive an all-electric Nissan LEAF, and in doing so they will be helping to trial technology which will enable much faster adoption of electric vehicles.
My Electric Avenue project is hosted by Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD), and led by EA Technology, an innovation technology deliverer. The £9m project is part of Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund programme, which supports projects sponsored by network providers to explore innovative, commercially-oriented technology.
It is the first time that neighbours all from the same street – or very close – are being sought for such a trial, so that a more realistic analysis of its effect on their local electricity substation can be made. Enthusiastic people, who are interested in being an electric car driver for the next 18 months and have neighbours who are also interested, are asked to get in touch via the project website www.myelectricavenue.info.
Each applicant will benefit from savings on their monthly fuel bills, with zero petrol or diesel costs, no road tax, zero emissions, and will enjoy a new and common interest amongst themselves and their neighbours as ownership progresses.
Other partners in the project are Nissan, the vehicle supplier; Fleetdrive Electric (electric vehicle rental programme management), and Zero Carbon Futures (charging point network developer). The University of Manchester and De Montfort University will provide support and technical verification and, as the scope of the project broadens geographically, Northern Powergrid will be making its electricity network available as part of the trial.
Dave A Roberts, Future Networks Director, EA Technology Europe, comments: “Plug-in vehicles are seen as one of the key ways for the UK to significantly reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from road transport by 2050. We therefore need to ensure that the local electricity grid can support the recharging of greater numbers of electric vehicles. In aiming to simulate a 2030 scenario, My Electric Avenue will provide essential learning about potential adjustments which will have to be made to networks into the future, and will also trial a proposed technical solution which will support faster adoption of electric vehicles.”
Stuart Hogarth, Director of Distribution for SSEPD explains why the company is excited about the project: “We want our customers to be the best served in the country and an important part of this is making sure we are at the forefront of trialling the latest technologies. My Electric Avenue is the first time in the UK that a network operator is testing the ability of its local grid to cope with the recharging of electric vehicles in such close vicinity to each other, and that’s something we’re really looking forward to. The information we gather will help us as we go about future-proofing our network and ensure we keep the lights on for all of our 3.5 million customers as the ownership of electric vehicles continues to grow.”