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The project seeks to test different smart charging market mechanisms and as such more than one trial is required to run in parallel. The scale of the project is also defined by the work required to develop new suitable customer proposition and innovative commercial arrangements. While all market stakeholders agree that a market-led approach to smart charging is favourable, they cannot pick a single market mechanism as the most appropriate one at this stage. As such, and since LV flexibility products and a market-led approach to smart charging providing flexibility to DNOs are at their infancy, a smaller scale will not be suitable to stimulate the market and gather enough evidence to inform future decisions.

Project-on-a-Page summary

Project data

Start date: 01/01/2019
End date: 31/05/2021
Budget: £1,295,500.00

This project aims 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.

Smart charging has the potential to unlock flexibility that will help defer reinforcement. The SmartCAR project has shown that market led approaches to smart charging have the ability to provide the necessary response to network needs. This project will investigate how market led approaches can work in practise and specifically, how DNOs can enable the market to manage smart charging in response to price signals.

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 has developed feasible designs for market-led smart charging. However, this has not yet 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.

Through completion of this project the following learnings are expected:

  • Deeper understanding of:
    • The value/potential of smart charging to provide LV flexibility
    • The investment case for DNOs to procure flexibility from smart charging as alternative to LV reinforcement
    • The LV flexibility market including the liquidity of the market, the speed of take up and scale of flexibility products
  •  Insights into:
    • What changes are required to current regulatory framework to accommodate market-led smart charging solutions
    • What new systems or system updates are required to accommodate market-led smart charging solutions
    • The creation of a smart charging standard
  • Evidence around LV flexibility and customers’ acceptance of allowing third party control of their assets

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