Over 2,000 new applications for low carbon technology (LCT) installations have been approved in record time as a result of a new portal.
Launched in February 2021 by UK Power Networks (UKPN), the Smart Connect portal has so far instantly approved 983 EV charging applications, over half of the 1,720 made. This has allowed devices to be connected straight away.
Additionally, applications to connect 234 electric heat pumps have been auto approved, as well as 765 household solar installs and 66 domestic batteries.
Smart Connect works by using artificial intelligence (AI) to process data about each household installation. When an installer applies to connect a new EV charger, for example, Smart Connect refers customers to a UKPN expert if the electricity supply needs to be upgraded to gain additional power. If no upgrades are needed, Smart Connect provides an automatic assessment and then auto approval.
Additionally, installers with multiple jobs planned can use Smart Connect to check the status of all of their applications.
The portal therefore removes the need to complete multiple paper forms and streamlines the process so installers can work more efficiently and install more devices, UKPN said.
It follows other distribution network operators (DNOs) also prioritising quicker connections, with Western Power Distribution pledging to approve domestic EV chargers and heat pumps on the same day or the next day in October 2021.
How to improve the connections process for EV chargers is also being looked at by Ofgem, having detailed in September 2021 how the RIIO-ED2 price control period will be used to incentivise improvements to the connection process alongside proposed changes to connections as part of the Access and Forward-Looking Charging Significant Code Review.
“Millions of electric cars and heat pumps will connect to our networks over the next decade. Through tools like Smart Connect we’ll make sure - whether we’re working with installers or directly with consumers - they can all connect at pace," said Ian Cameron, head of customer service and innovation at UK Power Networks.
The DNO is estimating there will be 4.5 million EVs in the areas it serves by 2030, with nearly 2,700 chargepoints having been added across London, the east and south east in the twelve months prior to September 2021.