Consortium uses smart meters for on-street EV charging

  • December 1, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Low carbon energy consultancy Element Energy, Trojan Energy, Octopus Energy and Landis & Gyr have formed a consortium to deliver on-street electric vehicle charging infrastructure, enabled by smart meters to integrate seamlessly with the existing electricity network.

UK-based Element Energy will lead the consortium of charge point start-up Trojan Energy, renewable electricity provider Octopus Energy, and integrated energy management firm Landis & Gyr.

As part of its Beyond Off Street programme, the UK government’s Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently awarded £856,000 funding through its Energy Innovation Programme to the Smart Subsurface Technology for Electric Pathways (SmartStep) project. SmartStep aims to incorporate smart functionality to the on-street charge points being developed by Trojan Energy.

While smart charging is already in use for home charging and at dedicated public EV charging bays, SmartStep will be the UK’s first demonstration of smart charging in shared parking spaces on residential streets. This trial will involve charge points slotted into the pavement, which will provide access to charging for those that do not have driveways or garages.

The project is split into two phases. Phase one involves the design, development and testing of the system. In this phase, already underway, Trojan Energy is working alongside Landis & Gyr and Octopus Energy to develop an effective smart charging system. Using technology pioneered by Landis & Gyr as the major supplier in the national smart meter roll out, the charging system will benefit from Smets 2 functionalities.

“Getting it right with widespread, easy and accessible EV charging will be fundamental to unlocking the potential of this sector and bringing it into the mainstream,” said Simon Egan, managing director of Landis & Gyr in the UK. “SmartStep will have huge benefits in terms of widening the potential pool of EV customers and its success will play a major role in driving further roll outs of e-charging infrastructure at scale. Considering our on-the-ground experience in delivering nationwide government programmes, as well as our ground-breaking advances in smart technology, I believe we can really make a difference with this project. We look forward to working with BEIS to ensure that those ready and willing to do their part in cutting the UK’s carbon footprint are enabled to do so.”

Should phase one be successful, in phase two the smart charging system will be trialled.

SmartStep builds on the Step project funded by Olev, which will see 200 of Trojan’s charge points deployed on streets in the London boroughs of Brent and Camden from spring 2021. SmartStep will involve upgrading 100 of these devices with Landis & Gyr’s Smets 2 smart meters. A crucial aspect of the project will be determining the user experience during the trial, an area where Element Energy’s sectoral expertise will provide value.

“Smart charging is a vital enabler of the EV transition, allowing the fine balancing of both customer needs and electricity network constraints,” said Sarah Clements, project manager from Element Energy. “While already available for drivers who charge at home, smart charging has never been tested in an on-street context before. This is essential for ensuring low-cost charging is available to all, and we are proud to be managing this industry first project that will help deliver Great Britain’s interconnected electricity and transport system.”

Founded in 2016, Trojan Energy was formed to ensure everyone benefits from the energy transition. With a strong focus on enabling the uptake of electric vehicles, Trojan Energy developed an EV charging system with charge points slotted into the ground, providing charging to EV users without driveways, allowing charging access for all, without the need for on-street clutter.

“As we roll out our charging technology, it is important to be at the cutting edge of what technology allows, as this can bring maximum benefits to our customers and energy suppliers, and deliver maximum value for the UK,” said Ian Mackenzie, managing director of Trojan Energy. “This trial allows us to push our technology further unlocking new billing options and services for EV chargers throughout Great Britain, advancing our lead further in on-street charging technology, and helping drive adoption of EVs throughout all areas of GB. We are grateful to BEIS and our fantastic consortium team, and are committed to leading the charge to net-zero.”

Octopus Energy launched to the public in April 2016. It supplies 100% renewable electricity and gas to over 1.7 million UK homes.

“Electric vehicle chargers should be accessible everywhere, offering low cost plans where possible and be easier to use if the green energy revolution is to keep driving ahead at full throttle,” said Phil Steele, future technologies evangelist at Octopus Energy. “Together with our partners, we’re excited to be at the cutting edge of developing charging infrastructure, enabled by smart meters and some incredibly innovative technology. Creating an effortless smart charging network is crucial to dispel concerns of EV critics and accelerate the electrification of transport.”

Element Energy is a strategic energy consultancy specialising in the intelligent analysis of low carbon energy. It provides consultancy services across sectors such as smart electricity and gas networks, energy storage, carbon capture, renewable energy systems, and low carbon vehicles.

Landis & Gyr is a provider of integrated energy management for the utility sector. With sales of $1.7bn in 2019, it employs around 5500 people in more than 30 countries across five continents.