Skip to main content
Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

YouGen Blog

Free electric vehicle smart chargers offered as part of regional trial

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 16 February 2017 at 12:31 pm

Have you just jumped on the electric vehicle bandwagon? Are you not quite there yet, but interested to get involved? Perhaps you have an electric hybrid vehicle and would like a smart charger at home.

A new project is recruiting owners of a range of makes and models of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids and will fit a free smart charger for participants.  They are looking for between 500 and 700 electric vehicle drivers to be part of the world’s largest trial to see how electricity networks can cope with increased demand that Electric Vehicles will bring.

Western Power Distribution (WPD) is working in collaboration with EA Technology, DriveElectric, Lucy Electric GridKey and TRL. Together they are trying to see if the UK electricity grid has sufficient capacity to deliver power to electric vehicles if they are taken up en masse.  The concern is that if clusters of EVs develop in local areas and they’re all charged at peak times then this could have considerable impact on some local electricity networks.  There is a potential for these vehicles to be charged in a ‘smarter’ way and the Electric Nation Project will investigate this.

Sales of electric vehicles in the UK are rising and there’s an increasing range of models to choose from, with larger batteries and faster charging times – all of which is helping to reduce emissions and to lower running costs for owners.

Mark Dale, Innovation and Low Carbon Networks Engineer, WPD, says: “The Electric Nation project will provide the data, and the real-life experience, to enable us to introduce smart charging to manage potential capacity issues due to clusters of EVs charging at peak times. This is predicted to save around £2.2 billion, as well as helping to avoid disruption to customers.”

Gill Nowell, Senior Consultant – Smart Interventions, EA Technology, adds: “My Electric Avenue (a previous project) showed that around 32% of local electricity networks will require intervention when 40% – 70% of customers have EVs. Electric Nation is now addressing this challenge by trialling a smart solution with a diverse range of plug-in vehicles and charging rates.”

Mike Potter, Managing Director, DriveElectric concludes: “Motorists who are in the process of buying or leasing a plug-in vehicle are encouraged to visit the Electric Nation website and become part of our project. They will get a free smart charger, but most importantly, they will be helping to future-proof Britain’s electricity networks to facilitate the continued uptake of EVs.”

As of 31st January 2016 approximately 200 people have expressed an interest, 40 of which have already been signed up and the installs have started in earnest.

Motorists buying or leasing a new electric vehicle are invited to become part of the Electric Nation community. Initially the trial will take place in certain geographical locations, the WPD network areas in the South West, South Wales, West & East Midlands.

Map: the areas where EV owners can apply for a free smart charger

For more information and to check eligibility visit

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

Like this blog? Keep up to date with our free monthly newsletter


1 comments - read them below or add one

Kay Bickley

Kay BickleyComment left on: 1 March 2017 at 7:53 am

Smart chargers should open the door to suppliers being able to offer electricity at more favourable rates if we as EV owners charge at specific 'off peak' times. It is pushing us towards a change in behaviour to avoid high consumption at peak times. The introduction of 'sunshine' tarifs or economy 7 type rates allows for flexibility. This could present a financial advantage for households who are not able to generate their own energy through renewable sources. Personally I prefer to choose to charge my Leaf when I am generating my own energy from our solar panels. I prefer a slow charge that maximises the use of my generated energy and reduces what is sent to the grid. The disadvantage of a 16/32 amp charger is that it draws a lot more electricity and faster, thus pushing us to use grid provided electricity. 

report abuse

Leave a comment

You must log in to make a comment. If you haven't already registered, please sign up as a company or an individual, then come back and have your say.