Collaborative project to trial new way of delivering rapid EV charging hubs

Western Power Distribution, along with Electricity North West (ENW) and engineering and environmental consultancy, Ricardo, have linked up to explore new ways of delivering rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs.

Funded through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, the £5.6mn DC Share trial project is aiming to interconnect substations through AC/DC converters and DC cable, allowing for latent electricity to be used to power rapid chargers. The focus of the project will be on the 40% of car users with no access to off-street parking. WPD noted significant investment, to date, has focused on EV charging solutions for off-street parking. If successful, the trial should further enable the take-up of EVs to hit net zero goals.

Ricardo will lead the project, using WPD’s network, with ENW tasked with ensuring the trial can be replicated across other operators’ networks, making it a nationwide solution. The partners are currently locating the optimal location to host the trial.

WPD Innovation and Low Carbon Network Engineer, Ricky Duke, explained: “Rapid chargers use a lot of power and to install them often requires reinforcing the network to allow for the extra load, which can be costly. But load profiles are different for each substation: those with domestic loads don’t, typically, have much demand during the day while those with a commercial profile have less demand in the evenings. This trial aims to see whether connecting them on a DC network rather than our usual AC infrastructure will enable us to power a rapid charging hub by sharing its demand between the substations.”