A project examining how the UK energy system needs to adapt in order to accommodate and encourage greater adoption of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (EVs) will draw on the experience of fleets.
The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has appointed TRL, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory, to lead its Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) project.
The £5 million scheme aims to understand the required changes to existing infrastructure, as well as consumer response to the wider introduction of plug-in hybrids and EVs in the UK.
TRL will lead the project, with support from Element Energy, Baringa Partners and Cenex, as well as EDF Energy, Route Monkey, EV Connect and the University of Aberdeen.
Jenny Stannard, project manager at TRL, said: “We’re already starting to see a sizeable shift in acceptance of EVs.
“However, as more vehicles become electrified, we need to understand the pressure this extra demand will put on our energy networks, as well as the potential opportunities it will bring.
“We also need to understand how consumers will respond and engage with these vehicles in order to develop an appropriate energy system that meets the needs of all parties.”
According to Colin Herron, managing director at Zero Carbon Futures, the UK has sufficient capacity to accommodate one million electric vehicles. However, one fleet told Fleet News that its financial case for EVs fell apart when told by its power supplier Northern Powergrid that it would have to pay a higher fee for its additional consumption.
Concerns have also been raised over the impact on capacity of a fully electrified rail network. Less than half the national network is currently electrified, but the long-term vision is for full electricifation. However, the UK’s current power output is not sufficient to cope with this without the additional of more power stations.
TRL’s two-year project will be carried out in two stages. Stage one will focus on analysis and design of policy and regulatory frameworks, business models, customer offerings, electricity and liquid fuel infrastructure and technologies throughout the energy system, as well as at charging and refuelling points. This will be supported by insights from consumers and fleets into the use of plug-in vehicles.
The second stage will deliver a full-scale trial involving more than 300 mass market vehicle users to validate the impact of solutions identified in stage one. In addition, researchers will gain an understanding of consumer and fleet responses to the vehicles and to charging schemes.
Stannard explained: “The CVEI project is the first and only project to analyse each of these elements in tandem – from energy demand and supply through to consumer usage and response.
“This not only provides a holistic picture of the energy demand, use and supply surrounding plug-in vehicles, but will generate the required evidence to inform policy makers and long term infrastructure investment in the UK.”
The project is expected to help drive the take-up of electric vehicles, including identifying the market structures and business propositions that will be needed to support the transition to, and operation of, a cost-effective UK energy system for low carbon vehicles.
ETI project manager Nick Eraut added: “As well as looking at the system and market structure changes, we also want to know how people would respond to a greater adoption of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles and also engagement with demand management schemes that would see them move from a niche choice of vehicle to the mainstream.”