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Customers adapt EV charging when there are smart incentives finds Shift trial

Image: UKPN.

Image: UKPN.

Customers do shift their charging to off-peak times when there are smart charging incentives, the Shift trial has found.

Run by DNO UK Power Networks (UKPN) together with Kaluza, Octopus Energy and ev.energy, the trial was announced back in 2019 and involved more than 1,000 domestic customers.

It showed that smart charging needs to be accessible, simple and trusted, UKPN said, as well as reinforcing that it must take into account real-world customer behaviour.

In the Shift trial, customers could enroll with different smart charging products and then use the Octopus Go Faster tariff, which was designed for the trial. Over the year, 80% of customers used the reduced tariff rates to run other devices in their homes.

Between 6% and 30% of energy used for EV charging throughout the trial was done automatically when customers had selected the option of ‘boosting'. This varied hugely between participants, emphasising the variety in the type of customer and their needs.

Conor Maher-McWilliams, Kaluza's head of flexibility, said priming networks for the coming surge in EV smart charging now " will allow millions of consumers to reap the rewards in the years to come".

“By implementing the right market structures, we can bring simple and affordable charging to drivers while their cars power the transition to a zero-carbon energy system.

"After only one year of the landmark Shift trial, we have demonstrated how market-led smart charging can work locally, for real customers, and we look forward to building on this progress with our technology."

Additionally the study showed that price signals and incentives will need to change and adapt as demand in local areas grow.

The Shift trial formed a key part of UKPN’s 2020 innovation strategy, as it looked to make the network ‘future ready’.

Ian Cameron, head of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “Electric vehicles are coming and we have a responsibility to provide the capacity needed to ensure our customers can charge when and where they wish.

“Smart charging has an important role to play in making sure we get the most efficient use out of our existing infrastructure, and where we do invest it is in the right place at the right time.”

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