Electric Vehicles


Project Data

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Shift is a nationally-significant trial that could revolutionise the electric vehicle industry. The project is at the forefront of the fundamental change in which electric vehicles are a major pillar in the UK’s low-carbon revolution.

What is the project about?

We know from our SmartCAR project that smart charging solutions could save customers money and help manage the network, but this was the first time any company had set out to discover how. Our market-led approach included entech supplier Octopus Energy, intelligent energy platform Kaluza and EV charging platform provider ev.energy. In the trials, we explored the different market mechanisms to facilitate smart charging in a way which shifts the EV demand away from periods of peak use.

Shift aimed to:

  1. Stimulate the development of market-led smart charging solutions, working with market participants to develop, enable and trial attractive customer propositions
  2. Develop and test processes, systems components and commercial arrangements to enable these propositions
  3. Understand customer response to the designed propositions and network impacts in a controlled environment
  4. Develop a scalable solution that can be expanded to a larger volume of customers and drive benefit ahead of regulatory reforms, and
  5. Inform Ofgem’s longer-term access and network charging reform.

How we’re doing it

Our customers and the wider EV industry have told electricity networks that they are strongly in favour of having choice when it comes to how and when they charge, and receiving financial incentives for doing so. Shift recruited up to 1,000 members of the public who own an electric vehicle and charge it at home, across London, the South East and East of England, and offered them a financial incentive to charge their vehicle off-peak. From the trial, we developed a large-scale, smart charging solution that can be rolled out nationwide by flexibility service providers like chargepoint operators, aggregators and energy suppliers.

What makes it innovative

Smart charging trials to date in the UK have been focused on an interim solution of a DNO-led intervention to protect LV networks at risk of overload due to increasing EV connections. These projects have not investigated a longer-term solution due to the pressing need for progress on the interim solution, and also due to the fact that various critical wider industry questions are still unanswered. The SmartCAR NIA project developed feasible designs for market-led smart charging. However, this had not been demonstrated in practice, therefore it is now the time to engage with the market and mobilise trials to explore how these designs will work in reality, and to deploy the smart solutions required on network level to enable smart charging.

What we’re learning

Shift developed a deeper understanding of the value and potential of low voltage flexibility. We discovered that just 20% of the time spent plugged in at home is needed to meet customer charging needs. The trialling of different market-led mechanisms has helped stimulate the smart charging market with over 2,500 domestic customers shifting their charging during the 12 month trials, which allowed us to outline considerations for future implementation.

Throughout the project, we gathered customer feedback in focus groups and workshops to understand what works best for them. Overall, customers were open to smart charging, so long as their mobility requirements were met.

Shift has developed a working, market-led smart charging mechanisms which has been implemented to procure flexibility. This will enable our customers to access the benefits of the fast-emerging flexibility market while supporting the increased adoption of decarbonised transport.

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