Low Carbon Ready

Smart Charging Architecture Roadmap (SmartCAR)

Project Data

Start date:


End date:





Smart Charging Architecture Roadmap project (SmartCAR), was launched to investigate longer-term potential approaches for smart charging in which the market can take the lead in managing EV loads and provide in the longer-term an industry-wide solution required to facilitate smart charging.

What is the project about?

The project is focussed on understanding the systems architecture which is required to facilitate smart EV charging for residential customers in urban, suburban and rural areas. The project will identify a range of potential models for smart EV charging, in order to understand the architecture requirements needed to support each of those models.

The project will develop architecture representations specific to each option, including detail at the point of customer connection or interaction with charging infrastructure, and outline the requirements between the substation and the internal systems and processes that a DNO may need. By determining an architecture that details the full smart charging landscape, this project can build upon the findings of existing projects that have focussed on specific parts of smart charging solutions, such as the link between charging points and substations.

How we’re doing it

Based on our understanding of the required architecture for smart charging, we have developed a roadmap of when the identified capabilities would be required. The timeline has been informed by both the level of opportunity for smart charging, and also by considering wider industry changes. Our modelling suggests that smart charging will be the most economical way to facilitate electric vehicle uptake at lowest cost to consumers. We also believe that developing an interim pricing solution will help to generate learning and insights which will help to inform longer term reform, and will help UKPN to develop skills and capabilities that will be required to operate in the DSO role.

The roadmap will have three broad phases:

Phase 1: Market trials to develop and deploy interim solutions (2019-2021)

Phase 2: Drive benefits from interim market solutions (2021-2023)

Phase 3: Transition to mature market solutions (2023 and the start of ED2)

What makes it innovative

Smart charging trials to date in the UK have been focussed 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 were still unanswered. This project is proposed in the context of progress into:

  1. the interim solution,
  2. the ENA’s Open Networks project into the evolving DSO landscape, and
  3. Ofgem’s Smart Systems & Flexibility plan and Network Access & Charging review.

Given these conditions it is now more possible to move forward with the longer-term smart charging model.

What we’re learning

There are various innovation projects being carried out by DNOs in the UK looking into smart charging approaches. The most relevant projects for this work are WPD’s Electric Nation and SSEN’s My Electric Avenue.

These two projects have developed important insights into consumer behaviour and the technologies required to monitor the network and identify emerging constraints. To do this they have focussed on a specific scenario for smart charging in which the DNO limits EV charging at times to protect the network from overload.

This scenario is one of a broader set of possible approaches to smart charging, and so our SmartCAR project aims to build on this work by investigating the full range of potential approaches, including approaches in which market participants play a more active role in coordinating charging with respect to network and wider electricity system conditions.

thinking outside the box icon
Share your ideas

If you have an idea that could reshape or revolutionise the way we work, we want to hear from you.

Submit an idea