UK grid capacity pooling test project gets green light

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A new project to spur the roll-out of urban electric vehicle chargers across the UK has taken a step forward with the selection of a test site for initial trials. The DC Share project is aimed at delivering 217,000 urban charging points across the UK, and the test site is to be constructed in Taunton, Somerset.

The project, which has received over £4.7m (US$6m) in funding through the UK government regulator OFGEM’s Network Innovation Competition, will test a new method of pooling extra network capacity from several local substations. This should enable low carbon infrastructure, such as EV charge points or battery energy storage, to be quickly connected without the need for expensive network reinforcement.

The trial will be led by project partners Western Power Distribution and Ricardo Energy and Environment, and will use smart DC meshing technology to link four local substations from across the town’s center, sharing their unused capacity to power 15 EV chargers, including five 100kW rapid chargers.

With building work scheduled throughout 2021, the charge points are due to open late next year. Throughout the trial, local residents will enjoy 12 months of free charging. If successful, the technology will be rolled out across the power network.

Ricardo’s Sarah Carter, manager of power planning and solutions, commented, “The identification of the Taunton test site for DC Share is a significant milestone for this important project. By installing a local DC equalization network to support the existing infrastructure, the project aims to demonstrate that the increased demands of rapid EV charging can be accommodated in urban environments without the need for more costly traditional network reinforcement measures.”

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