Over the last two years, Lucy Electric’s Gridkey monitoring technology has been deployed at Western Power Distribution’s substations as part of a major innovation project looking at the impact of electric vehicle (EV) charging. The trial recruited 673 plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicle drivers and explores their patterns of charging and how smart charging could reduce the impact on the network.

Lucy Electric was one of the key project partners, providing both the Gridkey hardware and collecting the raw data from the substation monitoring and the 30 different vehicle types used in the trial. An artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm was also created to identify and profile EV charging on the network.

The trial looked at different charging patterns and the potential demand management options, including smart charging and customer incentives for charging outside of peak times. Data is playing an integral role in understanding demands on electricity networks from technologies such as EVs and building the evidence base for the scenario planning for future developments.

Key learnings from Electric Nation showed that while various forms of flexibility and demand management are feasible, customers respond where there are financial incentives to do so. It also demonstrated that some customers take a more active role in this opportunity than others – something that has been seen in the retail side of the energy sector too with customers who shop around and switch suppliers seeing greater financial savings.

Time of use tariffs are one example of this, with suppliers such as Octopus and OVO now offering these to EV owners who utilise smart charging. The benefit for networks is clear – incentives to shift demand can be effective with engaged customers and this can be maximised through phone apps that make the process as simple as possible.

Lucy Electric is using Gridkey and learning from Electric Nation to support many network operators in their EV usage monitoring and asset planning. The project has also provided valuable insight for Lucy Electric too about how AI algorithms could be used with the data from Gridkey and other monitoring in sectors where normal and abnormal load profiles provide important indicators. A suite of Gridkey algorithms are being developed to help build the value of the actionable intelligence our monitoring solutions can offer a range of customers.