Ofgem approves funding for industry-led EV grid tests

The Optimise Prime project aims to assess how low carbon cars will interact with and affect the UK’s power grid

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An industry-led project has been announced to test commercial electric vehicle (EV) adoption across the UK.

Ofgem has approved funding for the Optimise Prime project, which will bring together power, technology, fleet and transport companies to test and implement the best way to deploy EVs, as well as assess their impact on the grid.

Businesses buy around 58% of all new vehicles sold in the UK and so will be a leading force in the transition to low carbon transport.

Led by global data technology solutions provider Hitachi Vantara and electricity distributor UK Power Networks, the trial will see up to 3,000 electric vehicles owned by Centrica, Uber and a large UK delivery firm take to the road, with their driving and charging data being recorded and assessed.

This information will feed into finding ways of overcoming expensive up-front costs, figuring out the impact on cables and substations and developing solutions to cut the cost of owning and running EVs, such as charging them outside the electricity network’s peak times.

The programme will be open to all EVs and includes depot, home and on-the-road charging scenarios.

Network operators will be able to gain an understanding of whether their equipment is up to the task of powering so many electricity-fuelled cars and assess whether their presence will provide significant benefits for grid balancing.

The project will launch early 2019, with the test area stretching across urban, suburban and rural areas of the South East, South Central and East of England.

Around £18 million will be funded through partner contributions and an additional £16.6 million will be provided by Ofgem.