UK Power Networks (UKPN) has unveiled a refreshed version of its electric vehicle (EV) strategy, placing emphasis on forecasting, smart solutions and strategic investment.

The distribution network operator’s (DNO) EV strategy aims to answer a wide range of questions, including how to collaborate with industry to overcome barriers, how many EVs should be facilitated through smart solutions over infrastructure upgrades, how to market test commercial solutions ahead of network reinforcement and how to identify when uptake has reached a point that it no longer requires input from the DNO.

Its latest forecasting predicts there will be between 1.9 and 4.1 million EVs on its networks by 2030. However, based on its projections of required uptake in the next six years to meet a 2050 net zero, it estimates that “we are 40% behind target on EV uptake to date”.

The updated strategy outlines the need to get back on track for net zero whilst not investing unnecessarily. UKPN’s vision is to be “an enabler of EV uptake”, requiring a focus on the strategic investment needed once smart alternatives have been considered.

It has outlined three key objectives it is to focus on and is asking for stakeholder feedback on the strategy.

The first objective is to inform investment and industry leading policies and standards, informing policy development and ensuring technical standards are up to date.

Activity needed to achieve this is the development of the best forecasting tools to support planning, as well as clear and accessible policies and standards.

EVs will have a “significant impact” on where and when UKPN invests going forward.

“Our focus now, ahead of vast volumes of EVs materialising is to have the best data to inform our forecast. Ultimately we have a social obligation to deliver the best environmental outcomes at the lowest cost possible by investing in the right locations just in time while avoiding stranded assets,” it said.

Its second objective is to prepare its network for EV uptake, ensuring it is technically ready by using its smart solutions and required capacity.

It points to what is has dubbed its ‘smart toolbox’, a collection of over 18 smart initiatives designed to respond to the rapid EV uptake. The tools are set to help UKPN maximise the use of existing assets, manage uncertainty of uptake and provide cover while it considers longer term network impacts.

It cites EV projects currently running, including the smart charging ‘Shift’ trial and the ‘Optimise Prime’ trial looking at how to mitigate the impact of electrification of fleets on networks, as examples of how it is enabling electrification.

UKPN will also develop a framework to transparently deploy infrastructure, including favouring a market led approach before building more infrastructure, in scenarios where smart solutions are unable to provide suitable cover.

Strategic investment was also added to its key pillars to prepare for EVs, previously outlined in the 2017 EV strategy after stakeholder feedback. The other three pillars are: forecast, monitor and deploy smart.

Lastly, it outlined an objective to deliver “great customer experience” through delivering the most choice in areas such as new and alternative connection products such as timed and flexible connections.

It will also continue to engage with customers and local authorities, and provide transparency of required data.

“To that effect we understand that collaboration is key to having strategic investment plans that ensure our communities have the network they need for their electrification of transport needs,” it said.

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