WPD and Ricardo to test DC option, aiming to hike EV charging capacity

Western Power Distribution (WPD) has joined with Ricardo Energy and Environment to trial a new way of expanding capacity for electric vehicle charging, at a site in Taunton, Somerset.

The DC Share project, which has received  £4.7 million in funding through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, will test a new method of pooling extra network capacity from several local substations. This will enable low carbon infrastructure, such as EV charge points or battery energy storage, to be quickly connected without the need for expensive network reinforcement. It is particularly important in dense urban communities, where the low carbon technologies can be slowed by constraints and a lack of space for building a more substations.

WPD says the solution could help deliver 217,000 EV chargers in urban spaces across its licence area in the Midlands, South Wales and South West by 2023. The technology will help to get over 3 million EVs in the area by 2023.

WPD says that expanded across other electricity networks, DC Share’s technology could save customers across the UK an estimated £162 million in network reinforcement costs by 2050.

DC is a constant electrical electric charge similar to the output of a battery and is used by nearly all low carbon technologies. Using it, rather than the more commonly used AC, reduces energy losses. The trial in Taunton, Somerset, which will be led by project partners Ricardo Energy and Environment, will use smart DC meshing technology to link four local substations from across the town centre, sharing their unused capacity to power 15 EV chargers. This will include five 100kW rapid chargers able to fully recharge the average electric vehicle in around 30 minutes. Taunton was selected due to site suitability and the proactive engagement of the council.

Building work is scheduled throughout 2021, with charge points are due to open late in the year. Throughout the trial, local residents will have 12 months of free charging.