Public smart charging trial highlights big EV savings

A UK-first trial of smart charging across public infrastructure has shown how EV drivers could save over £600 per year with the technology.

Smart charging enables vehicles to charge when electricity rates are at their lowest, saving drivers money as well as helping to smooth the grid demand, reducing peak demand by as much as 240MW. But the technology is generally not available at public chargers, with only those who charge at home able to avail of off-peak tariffs.

The Agile Streets project saw a consortium of players come together to deliver the trial with 100 Connected Kerb on-street EV chargers deployed at 17 sites across four local authorities – Shropshire, Hackney, Glasgow and East Lothian. Over the course of six months, 2,451 charging sessions took place, totalling 51,618kWh of energy. It was found that drivers could save £604.65 per year in charging costs compared to traditional non-smart public charging – equivalent to UK-wide collective savings of over £4.1bn a year by 2030. The trial also highlighted how smart charging could enhance the value of running an EV versus a petrol vehicle, as energy costs have reduced the per-mile advantage in recent months.

“The energy price crisis is a major challenge facing all industries,” said Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb.For the EV transition, we know that this will narrow the gap between the cost of refuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle, and the typically much lower cost of charging an EV. That’s why now is the time to focus our attention on smart charging technologies that can allow those reliant on public charging infrastructure to benefit from cheaper prices when demand for electricity is at its lowest.

“The deployment of smart charging into public charging – to both reduce consumer costs and minimise the impact of charging on the grid – is ground-breaking. The Agile Streets trial gives us the opportunity to ensure we get smart charging right, enabling us to take all of the learnings from the trial and get ready to roll out this revolutionary infrastructure.”

Drivers in the trial had the option of a smart charging ‘ECO’ mode at 19p/kWh – which would schedule charging at the lowest-cost times of day – or a ‘boost’ mode at 33p/kWh which would immediately deliver power like a normal non-smart public charger. Charging an average 62kW Nissan LEAF from 20 per cent to 100 per cent using ECO mode saved drivers £6.95 per session – a 42 per cent reduction from boost mode.

The project was delivered by a consortium comprised of Connected Kerb, Samsung Research, Octopus Energy For Business, SMETS Design Limited, Energy Saving Trust and the Power Networks Distribution Centre.

“The provision of convenient and affordable EV charging infrastructure is essential to ensure that electric vehicles are accessible to everyone,” said Tim Anderson, group head of transport at Energy Saving Trust, responsible for monitoring and evaluation in the trial.

“This will support the switch to low carbon transport, which in turn is a key part of the UK’s transition to net zero carbon. Energy Saving Trust is proud to be part of this world-first trial, using smart metering technology to enable drivers without the option of charging at home, to take advantage of off-peak tariffs to charge their cars. We look forward to seeing the trial rolled out further and the benefits that this will bring.”