Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has secured £320,000 of funding from Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance to develop a portable charging device for electric vehicles.

The 18-month Local Electric Vehicle Energy Loop (LEVEL) project will seek to address short-term fluctuations in demand, for example, due to increased travel by both tourists and local drivers during warmer months or road works or accidents that prevent access to some charging points.

As part of this effort, SSEN will develop a standard and specification for a temporary, portable charging device, one of which will be demonstrated within its license area in the north of Scotland.

The distribution network operator said the devices could be deployed to remote locations in advance of bad weather to maintain charging services in the event of the power cut or within public car parks to boost local capacity over the summer.

The project will also consider the best ownership model for the devices, the implications for metering and settlement and the customer interface, including the possibility of creating an app to display the locations of mobile devices.

LEVEL project manager Kate Jones said: “The electrification of transport is critical in realising Scotland’s decarbonisation ambitions, bringing exciting opportunities to be seized and challenges to be mitigated. Through the LEVEL project we will be working collaboratively to identify potential issues, to give customers the confidence to make the EV transition.

“LEVEL is an exciting addition to our portfolio of projects that are preparing the electricity network for EVs. A portable charging device could be a valuable tool to help us manage short-term and short-notice surges in demand, whilst avoiding costly network reinforcement.”

Meanwhile, SSE Enterprise has signed an agreement with InfraTech Property Solutions (IPS) to transform up to 1,000 of its lock-up garages across London and the Home Counties into smart charging hubs, each with between 10 and 20 rapid charging bays.

The project team are hoping to pilot the model at a site near Heathrow Airport later this year. It is expected to be used by local delivery and tax drivers, who will be able to buy coffee from a van whilst they wait. The chargers will be partly supplied using onsite solar panels and batteries to ease pressure on the power grid.

SSE Enterprise EV sector director, Kevin Welstead, said: “This project has the capability to provide the mass rollout of EV charging that London is crying out for as more and more consumers switch to EV. Space in the capital to build charging hubs is like gold dust, but thanks to the network of lock-up garages tucked away across the city managed by IPS, we can build a network that could charge a tenth of all EVs in London.”

“If we’re serious about bringing cleaner air to the streets of London then we need this kind of innovative thinking to meet demand. It is certainly a project with huge potential for London.”

And finally, Oxford City Council has taken delivery of more than 30 electric vehicles as part of the £41 million Energy Superhub Oxford project, which will see more than 100 charging points of various speeds installed across the city at council depots and public parking spots.

The chargers will be connected to the transmission network through an 8-kilometre-long private wire installed around the city by Pivot Power and will be partly supplied by a hybrid storage system combining a 50MW lithium-ion battery and a 2MW vanadium redox flow provided by Invinity Energy Systems (formerly RedT).

Ground-source heat pumps will also be installed in 300 properties as part of the two-year project. Kensa Contracting will soon begin work on the first 60. Operation of the various assets will be optimised using software provided by Habitat Energy and the University of Oxford will analyse the results of the trial.

Tim Rose, ESO programme manager for Pivot Power, said: “The smart power network we are installing in Oxford will deliver flexible, reliable power at scale to fast-track EV adoption.

“As part of EDF Renewables UK, our aim is to replicate this model throughout the UK, supporting greater renewable generation and delivering power where and when it is needed to enable mass-scale, rapid electric vehicle charging.”

The project was awarded £10 million from the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in April last year.

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