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SmartSTEP Project Brings Smart EV Charging to Urban Residential Streets

Smart EV Charging

Element Energy is to lead a consortium of energy industry supporters to bring smart EV charging to residential urban streets.

Element Energy a strategic energy consultancy, specialising in the intelligent analysis of low carbon energy is to lead a consortium of energy industry supporters to bring smart EV charging to residential urban streets in industry first. The new on-street electric vehicle charging infrastructure will be enabled by smart meters to integrate seamlessly with the existing electricity network. The consortium includes Trojan Energy a charge point start-up, renewable electricity and gas provider Octopus Energy, and Landis+Gyr a leading global provider of integrated energy management solutions for the utility sector.

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 innovative on-street charge points being developed by Trojan Energy.

Smart charging is a vital enabler of the EV transition, allowing the fine balancing of both customer needs and electricity network constraints. Whilst 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.

Sarah Clements, Project Manager at Element Energy

Affordable, accessible, and convenient on-street electric vehicle (EV) charging is key for decarbonising transport and meeting the government’s climate commitments. Prospective EV drivers want to know they can charge their car near to where they live, and Trojan’s technology aims to facilitate this for the roughly 30% of households that do not have access to off-street parking.

However, whilst meeting the needs of customers is paramount, effectively integrating EV charging so the grid remains balanced is key to success. Smart charging allows customers to access EV charging when electricity is cheapest by automatically shifting the charging period to overnight, or other times of generally lower electricity demand. This will be crucial to balancing the loads on the local electricity distribution network, especially as more and more intermittent renewable electricity generating capacity such as wind and solar is connected.

Whilst smart charging is already in use for home charging and at dedicated public EV charging bays, SmartSTEP will be the 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 are working alongside Landis+Gyr and Octopus Energy to develop an effective smart charging system. Using the latest technology pioneered by Landis+Gyr as the major supplier in the national smart meter roll out, the charging system will benefit from the most advanced SMETS2 functionalities. These smart meters are connected to the national smart metering system that adheres to the highest standard of security, ensuring data privacy for customers, protecting the grid, and supporting seamless switching between energy suppliers.

Octopus Energy, the UK’s latest energy technology ‘unicorn’, will be providing access and integration with their first-of-its-kind Agile tariff, which allows lower cost renewable energy prices through incentivising off-peak usage. Allowing the project to benefit from low cost green energy when demand on the grid is lower, and renewable energy is more abundant.

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. 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.

Phil Steele Future Technologies Evangelist at Octopus Energy

Should Phase 1 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 SMETS2 smart meters. A crucial aspect of the project will be determining the user experience for customers during the trial – an area where Element Energy’s sectoral expertise will provide significant value.

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