As the world focuses on carbon reduction to address the urgent issue of climate change, electric vehicles (EV) are being seen as the future of low carbon mobility.

But the rising numbers of EVs are putting additional pressure on already highly utilised assets, especially in dense urban areas. Potentially this could cause network constraints that hinder the growth of EV use – a negative for network operators.

The key to unlocking this challenge is access to the right data to forecast and monitor changing demand, use of this information to actively manage networks and smart, future-proofed EV solutions.

The Challenge

As a major contributor to carbon emissions, transport is a key decarbonisation target. Governments are enabling the switch to electric vehicles from petrol and diesel-fuelled transport, to create cleaner and more environmentally sustainable towns and cities. This transport revolution will have a major impact on the electricity infrastructure. Planning and managing this change needs smart, adaptive technologies and an effective ecosystem to enable proactive management across the network and charging infrastructure.

There are a number of challenges to take into account:

  • Network visibility – the majority of EV connections are on the LV network, the least smart and least visible part of any network
  • Capacity – UK studies suggest EV charging doubles the typical domestic load. Network operators therefore need to understand demand and available headroom to accommodate EV charging and manage this during peak load. Commercial charging, although usually on the MV network, often requires fast or superfast chargers and similarly needs capacity planning and load management.
  • Unpredictability – in most countries there is currently little to no control of domestic charging and regulators are expecting network operators to connect all domestic charging requirements. Once connected, the usage pattern for charging is also largely unrestricted and the potential for vehicle to grid uploads adds to the complexity. Domestic connection location is also unpredictable due to lack of available modelling data.
  • Power quality – the large number of unpredictable factors makes modelling very difficult and so the frequent fluctuations from unknown and unrestricted EV charging cause significant difficulties for maintaining power quality. This is especially true of commercial charging which can create hard-to-manage harmonics that require voltage control to maintain local power quality.

Our solutions

Lucy Electric provides home to street, smart solutions which are connectable across the electrical infrastructure.

From domestic EV charging connections and home energy storage; to robust electrical infrastructure for rapid charging and on-street fast-charge EV points; to network monitoring and Smart Grid solutions to manage and monitor the health of network assets. Our knowledgeable and experienced teams can design, specify and deliver the right solution to meet your EV infrastructure needs.

With most EV charging on the LV network, a key enabler is integrated, active LV monitoring and control, which facilitates better network management and supports smart charging solutions.

Lucy Electric’s Gridkey monitoring system provides operators with live performance information on low voltage assets. The system analyses the vast quantities of information from the LV network and transforms this into actionable decisions while continuously monitoring power quality, losses and theft.

Monitoring load in real-time and at more precise locations allows network operators to build a picture of demand profile over time, identifying potential constraint issues and modelling the impact of increased EV uptake.

The Gridkey data also provides clear visibility of load and demand fluctuations, and can factor in network safety and load constraints to create a control signal that can alert/shut off charging when combined with smart charging technology.

The demonstrable value of data for network operators is both in the technical insight, from identifying and protecting infrastructure from capacity challenges or power quality issues from harmonics and voltage, and in data sharing. There is an increasing expectation amongst regulators and technology developers for network operators to facilitate and support data sharing. Gridkey data brings the potential for advanced analysis and sharing that helps network operators to play their part in a global effort to discover innovative solutions that meet efficiency, cost and sustainability goals.

Our expertise

With knowledge and expertise across multiple sectors, Lucy Electric is well placed to support network operators through this transformation.

As a systems provider, Lucy Electric is able to immediately add value and is uniquely placed as a long term partner to shape your EV strategy and design the assets and systems needed to deliver it

Our work as part of Electric Nation, Europe’s largest innovation project analysing the impact of EV charging; and our collaboration with a specialist smart technology platform provider, which optimises EV charging and shifts demand to off-peak through favourable pricing models; has kept us at the forefront of EV charging developments.

Deep engineering expertise enables us to create bespoke technology to meet customers’ unique requirements. For example we have designed bespoke elements for our Gridkey LV monitoring technology for installation across one of the largest cities in Europe to monitor demand and inform future infrastructure investment as part of a major push to increase EV use in the city.

Working in collaboration with our sister company, Lucy Zodion, we bring expertise in both network assets, data monitoring and analysis, as well as domestic and on-street smart charging infrastructure ideal for urban areas with constrained space.