Electric Vehicles

Active Response

Project Data

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Active Response will trial a revolutionary way of managing spare electricity network capacity that could save customers £271 million by 2030 and cut more than 448,000 tonnes of carbon emissions by 2030.

Watch the Active Response introduction

What is the project about?

By 2030 it is anticipated there will be up to 4.5m electric vehicles in use across London, the East and South East of England, where UK Power Networks delivers electricity – including London’s buses and taxis. The charging of these vehicles could significantly increase the peak demand for electricity. In order to accommodate this increased demand, UK Power Networks would traditionally reinforce the existing network assets to provide more capacity. Upgrading an electricity substation or adding entirely new substations and cabling when customers need more power takes time, costs money, and can cause roadworks. Ultimately, this cost would be paid for by the electricity customers.

Active Response will trial a responsive, automated electricity network that re-configures itself in real-time, moving spare capacity to where the demand is.

How we’re doing it

The project will trial the solutions described above through a series of project trials, which will demonstrate the benefits of the solutions. The trials are expected to start in Q3 2019 and conclude in Q3 2021. Prior to the trials starting, the project will conduct rigorous testing of the devices and software to ensure the solutions operate as expected.

Active Response builds on previous research projects such as Flexible Urban Networks – Low Voltage, which delivered pioneering results by proving that an entirely new use for power electronics could be deployed on the electricity network.

During our trials, we are proposing to demonstrate two methods:

Network Optimise – Optimisation and Automatic reconfiguration of HV & LV networks in combination, using remote control switches and Soft Open Points.
Primary Connect – Controlled transfers between primary substations using a Soft Power Bridge to share loads and optimise capacity.

UK Power Networks recognises the importance of sharing learnings from trialling innovative solutions. As such, the project will share key learnings with stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle.

What makes it innovative

To address the challenges raised by the increase in electric vehicles, Active Response will test and trial new designs of power electronic devices and network optimisation and automation software. It will be the first time these new devices, known as Soft Open Points and Soft Power Bridges, and software have been used on a distribution network.

What we’re learning

The project aims to demonstrate new ways network operators can maximise the capacity of their existing assets. By using advanced automation and installing new power electronic devices, we can connect networks together and move spare capacity around to where it is needed, reducing the need for time-consuming and sometimes costly reinforcement.

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