Northern Powergrid has announced three key initiatives to be implemented this year to give its employees a chance to become “hands on” with electric vehicle (EV) technology across its 28 sites.

The distribution network operator (DNO) employs 2,500 people and will use the initiatives to examine how its workers interact with EVs and the impact they have on the network.

It is hoped this will unveil possibilities for how EV owners and the supporting infrastructure might operate in reality.

EV charging points will be installed at 11 sites to encourage employees to go electric “well ahead” of the 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales.

This will be supported by a second initiative to install on-site vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging points to boost the number of EV chargers available and contribute to a trial of best use of V2G in fleet operations.

Installation for the first of 16 V2G chargers will begin this month.

The third initiative will see the company begin to decarbonise its fleet of vehicles, starting with changing its pool cars to EVs.

Northern Powergrid is also undertaking a survey of EV ownership in the business to ensure the growing EV driver base has the right infrastructure, breaking down barriers to adoption across its own workforce.

In response to today’s (9 August) announcement, Tom Pakenham, director of electric vehicles at OVO Energy, said: “With one million electric vehicles expected on the roads by 2022, it’s important that all parts of the energy industry invest in infrastructure to support the grid as vehicle numbers increase.

“That’s why development of smart-charging and vehicle-to-grid technology is important, enabling drivers of electric vehicles to sell energy back to the grid at peak times, helping to balance the energy system and maximise the use of renewables.”

Jim Cardwell, head of policy development at Northern Powergrid, said the company is using itself as a test bed to ensure it is better positioned to understand how their customers will engage with emerging technologies.

He added: “We are starting small to begin with, bringing on five Nissan Leaf EVs that will be available for our people to use.

“Although colleagues frequently have to take our vehicles to places where there is no electricity, there is huge internal appetite to decarbonise as much of our fleet as possible, as soon as is practical.

“These small internal steps forward for us are part of a bigger drive to learn by observing ourselves and build on the strong work done under our customer-led network revolution programme – recycling the learning into every day operations.”

The DNO has been engaged EV projects over the past year including a £9.8 million collaborative programme announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and led by Nissan to add 1,000 V2G charging points to the UK’s network.

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