The Green Industrial Revolution is upon us, and with the UK Government announcement that all sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2035, electric vehicles (EVs) are due to become an increasingly common sight on our roads.

EVs have a key role to play in our transformative journey towards a decarbonised energy system and net zero.

The UK Government has pledged £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of charge points, £582 million in grants to help people buy EVs, and nearly £500 million in the next four years to develop mass-scale production of EV batteries. There are currently 435,000 plug-in vehicles on UK roads. New registrations of battery-electric EVs in December 2020 saw a 344 percent year-on-year increase. And with over 200 plug-in models to choose from, range increases, costs decreases, leases at price parity with fossil fuel equivalents, and a burgeoning second-hand market for EVs, there can be little doubt that EVs are here to stay.


 

What is Skyline?

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks launched Project Skyline in collaboration with UK Power Networks and the Energy Innovation Centre. The group worked with third parties to share early visibility of new EVs and new charge point connections to enable timely and effective network management and a seamless experience for EV drivers. The project was funded through the Network Innovation Allowance and was delivered in partnership with ElectraLink and CrowdCharge.

With the increasing uptake of EVs there is a need for the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) – the companies that are responsible for the local electricity networks (overhead lines and underground cable) – to understand where EVs are being charged on local electricity networks (Low Voltage), in order to facilitate planning and investment. At present, DNOs are typically only being notified ‘after the event’, i.e. once a charger has already been installed. An added challenge is that DNOs are not being notified of all the installations, with some going unreported after being connected. EV drivers who do not use a dedicated home charger also results in the DNO not being notified through a formal process of the new demand.

Aim of the project

The aim of this project was to develop an early notification system to alert DNOs to the likelihood of an EV being charged on the LV network (whether via a charger or by virtue of a three-pin plug). In consultation with EV charge point operators, installers and dealers, as well as EV suppliers, methods were agreed and tested to enable as frictionless access to charger install or EV enquiry data as possible.

EV asset database:

CrowdCharge developed an EV asset database, with notifications going to the DNOs via ElectraLink API – ensuring maximum compliance with GDPR and data privacy (ElectraLink is a central data / governance body owned by the DNOs). The EV database produced heat maps and reports to support DNOs’ investment in planning for EV uptake.

Why now?

Distribution Network Operators have been working ahead of need since 2012 to ensure that the local electricity distribution networks can facilitate mass adoption of EVs. Previous innovation projects, such as My Electric Avenue, have studied the impact of EVs on the LV network, with findings that across Britain, 32% of local electricity networks will require intervention when 40-70% of customers have EVs.  Since those early projects, the UK Government has mandated smart charging, in part to help manage this additional new demand; whilst smart charging and other technologies such as Vehicle to Grid (V2G), as well as implementation of Time of Use (ToU) tariffs, can go a long way to manage EV demand on the grid, the DNOs do need to know where EVs are being charged on their networks, in order to plan investments cost effectively to facilitate widespread EV uptake at lowest cost for all electricity bill payers.

While charger installers routinely update the DNOs when new charge points are installed, the automotive sector was not previously involved in the data-sharing process. Skyline seeks to change this through its strategic engagement programme with automotive and EV industry stakeholders.

Benefits

With customer benefits at its heart, Skyline, in collaboration with the EV and automotive sectors, is creating a new system to give advanced notification of EV demand to the DNOs.

With better data faster, network operators can make proactive and more informed decisions about where and when to invest in solutions which prepare the electricity networks to be ready for new demand and to help reduce costs and delays for customers, whilst ensuring security of supply for everyone.

Read the final Skyline report at the button below.

View the Skyline report

Project Skyline was shortlisted for an Innovation Award at the 2023 Utility Week Awards