WPD and ENW plan substation arrays to power electric vehicles


Distribution network operators Western Power Distribution and Electricity North West are working on plans to connect substations together in order to create on-street rapid electric vehicle charging hubs.

Consultancy Ricardo is also involved in the £5.6m trial funded under Ofgem’s innovation scheme that allows DNOs to spend money to develop a smarter power system.

Substations have different load profiles – some run close to the limit during the day, others are used more intensively at night. By connecting them together on a DC network, the DNOs hope to create rapid charging hubs that are powered by more efficient use of the network – rather than spending money building more substations.

If it works, the system could cut the costs required to install rapid chargers. According to WPD’s EV strategy document published earlier this year, a connection for a single rapid charger can cost customers up to £12,000, with multiple rapid chargers up to £120,000 to cover streetworks, permissions and cost of land for a transformer.

“On paper it looks like an exciting solution that will enable us to ensure there is enough power for rapid charging hubs across the network,” said WPD innovation and low carbon network engineer, Ricky Duke. “Not only will this help customers who do not have off-road parking but it will also help with the ‘range anxiety’ that puts many people off switching to EVs.”

The project will be led by Ricardo using WPD’s network. ENW’s role is to ensure that the trial can be replicated across other operators’ networks, making it a nationwide solution. The consortium is now looking for the best sites to start the trial.

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