Shift project makes positive change for customers

The UK’s biggest electricity distributor is opening the way for local residents to join the energy ‘flexibility’ market to help cut the costs of running their electric vehicles (EVs).

New ways of smart charging have been successfully tested by UK Power Networks to deliver greener energy at a lower cost for customers who charge their EVs at certain periods. With energy prices rising, smart charging enables customers to use electricity not only when it is greenest, but cheapest too.

Project Shift, led by UK Power Networks in partnership with Kaluza, Octopus Energy and ev.energy, developed and trialled three different ways to incentivise EV charging outside of peak times.

The world’s largest trial of smart charging incentives has shown that only 19% of the time customers spend plugged in at home, is needed to meet their charging needs. This makes ‘smart charging’ a possibility for people who can shift their charge times to when demand on the electricity network is lower, using cheaper, greener electricity to charge their car ready for the next day.

Findings included that 85% of customers were open to smart charging, so long as their mobility requirements were met.

EV demand during the evening peak was reduced by an average of 79% due to Smart charging with ongoing financial incentives. The median daily reduction in EV demand between 6-9 pm was 82%. Customers are now charging their car cheaper at certain times on a routine basis and earning rewards for charging, while avoiding the need for local electricity grids to be reinforced.

As the distributor of electricity to 8.4 million homes and businesses across London, the South East and East of England, UK Power Networks is a key enabler of the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy and forging a path to net zero.

Smart EV charging is critical to enabling the lowest cost electrification of transport, especially important as consumers are facing an increased cost of living. As more people opt for a low carbon way of life, demand on the electricity grid rises with customers wanting the choice of how and when they charge. Project Shift means people can easily access the benefits of the fast-emerging flexibility market while supporting the increased adoption of EVs.

Ian Cameron, Head of Customer Service and Innovation at UK Power Networks, says: “It is great that customers can receive incentives for charging their electric vehicles outside of peak times at home.

“Smart charging will ultimately save everyone money and offers new opportunities for domestic households and businesses to contribute to a smarter UK energy system. It is key to helping us deliver net zero at the best cost for both customers and the network.”

William Goldsmith, Head of Grid and Data Services at ev.energy, says: “It’s been fantastic working with UK Power Networks on such world leading innovation and I am delighted that the learnings from Project Shift have already been integrated into UK Power Networks’ first-of-a-kind flexibility tenders.

“Charging electric vehicles smartly to unlock grid services is a critical part of delivering a green, affordable energy future. This can only be done by engaging and incentivising EV drivers to take part.”

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