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Uber, Centrica join ‘world’s biggest’ electric vehicle impact trial

Image: Chargemaster.

Image: Chargemaster.

Uber, Centrica and an unnamed parcel carrier firm are participating in a new, Ofgem-backed trial which will assess the impact of up to 3,000 electric vehicles on local grids.

The trial, which has been given the green light by the UK regulator, is to be led by distribution network operator UK Power Networks and data and technology provider Hitachi Vantara, and has been described as the world’s largest trial of commercial electric vehicles.

UKPN’s fellow DNO Scottish and Southern Electricity networks, Hitachi Europe and Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions are also participating.

The three-year project will see Centrica, Uber and the parcel delivery firm use as many as 3,000 electric vehicles to conduct regular business activities, all the while the impact of their regular charging will be analysed to determine the end-to-end impact on distribution infrastructure such as cables and substations.

It has been designed to be intentionally vehicle agnostic and will incorporate depot, home and on-the-road charging scenarios and technologies.

The intended outcome is to create a “detailed picture” of the demands of electric fleet and private hire vehicles, representing significant sub-sets of on-the-road vehicles, and the project is to use real-life datasets and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in order to further its understanding.

Hitachi Vantara will design, build and operate the IoT platform and will oversee the project’s various workstreams with help from Hitachi Europe.

UKPN is to provide engineering and connections-related resources, while SSEN’s status as a grid partner – particularly in the inclusion of Southern Electric Power Distribution’s operational area – is to broaden the project’s scope to include all of Greater London.

The project is one of those successful in Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, winning £16.6 million in funding. An additional £18 million is being funded through partner contributions, however the project is expected to deliver more than £200 million in benefits to UK consumers.

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