Smart charging trial proves cost saving potential

Fleet operators and company car drivers could save around £600 per year on charging costs by using smart public charging, a trial has shown.

Agile Streets, the UK’s first-ever trial of smart metered on-street electric vehicle (EV) chargers, saw 100 Connected Kerb EV chargers deployed at 17 sites across four local authorities – Shropshire, Hackney, Glasgow and East Lothian.

Over the course of six months, 2,451 charging sessions took place, totalling 51,618kWh of energy. These charging sessions were completed by 368 trial participants.

Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, said: “The energy price crisis is a major challenge facing all industries. For the EV transition, we know that this will narrow the gap between the cost of refuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle, and the typically much lower cost of charging an EV. That’s why now is the time to focus our attention on smart charging technologies that can allow those reliant on public charging infrastructure to benefit from cheaper prices when demand for electricity is at its lowest.

“The deployment of smart charging into public charging – to both reduce consumer costs and minimise the impact of charging on the grid – is ground-breaking. The Agile Streets trial gives us the opportunity to ensure we get smart charging right, enabling us to take all of the learnings from the trial and get ready to roll out this revolutionary infrastructure.”

The government-backed project shows that peak energy demand – the time of day when energy demand is greatest – would be reduced by as much as 240MW. Achieving the same peak demand reduction by using lithium-ion battery storage would cost around £83m plus an annual operating cost of £1.5m.

Smart metering works by enabling EVs to schedule charging to times when energy prices are cheapest, such as overnight when demand is low or on sunny and windy days when there is an abundance of cheap solar and wind energy. This reduces emissions, takes pressure off the grid at peak times and keeps costs low for drivers. By using the Agile Streets app and scheduling the time a car needs to be fully charged, drivers will have enough power to drive away when needed.

During the trial, drivers had the option of a smart charging ‘ECO’ mode at 19p/kWh – which would schedule charging at the lowest-cost times of day – or a ‘boost’ mode at 33p/kWh which would immediately deliver power like a normal non-smart public charger. Charging an average 62kW Nissan LEAF from 20% to 100% using ECO mode saves drivers £6.95 per session – equivalent to a 42% saving.

The Agile Streets project is delivered by a consortium comprised of Connected Kerb, Samsung Research, Octopus Energy For Business, SMETS Design Limited, Energy Saving Trust and the Power Networks Distribution Centre. The project was awarded £1.5m by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to deliver the Beyond Off-Street Smart Meter Electric Vehicle Charging programme.

Tim Anderson, group head of transport at Energy Saving Trust, who was responsible for monitoring and evaluation in the trial, said: “The provision of convenient and affordable EV charging infrastructure is essential to ensure that electric vehicles are accessible to everyone. This will support the switch low carbon transport, which in turn is a key part of the UK’s transition to net zero carbon. Energy Saving Trust is proud to be part of this world-first trial, using smart metering technology to enable drivers without the option of charging at home, to take advantage of off-peak tariffs to charge their cars. We look forward to seeing the trial rolled out further and the benefits that this will bring.”

Latest Stories