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July 29, 2020

WPD/Ricardo Energy name UK DC Share project site

Western Power Distribution (WPD) in partnership with Ricardo Energy and Environment, have confirmed Taunton as the site for its UK DC Share project, trialling a new method which will help deliver an estimated 217,000 EV chargers in urban spaces across its licence area by 2023.

By Rhodri Morgan

Western Power Distribution (WPD) in partnership with Ricardo Energy and Environment, have confirmed Taunton as the site for its UK DC Share project, trialling a new method which will help deliver an estimated 217,000 EV chargers in urban spaces across its licence area by 2023.

The company estimates the technology will enable more than 3m EVs to operate in the British Midlands, South Wales and South West by 2023.

Taunton in Somerset has been identified for trial by the DC Share project – in which Ricardo is collaborating with Western Power Distribution . The GBP5.6m (US$7.3m) project aims to deliver urban EV charging without the need to upscale electricity infrastructure.

The DC Share project, which has received more than GBP4.7m in funding through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, will test a new method of pooling extra network capacity from several local substations. This will enable low carbon infrastructure, such as EV charge points or battery energy storage, to be quickly connected without the need for expensive network reinforcement.

DC Share’s approach will be useful in dense urban communities, where the adoption of low carbon technologies can be slowed by constraints and a lack of available space for building a larger network of substations.

Ricardo Energy notes DC (Direct current) is a constant electrical electric charge similar to the output of a battery and is used by nearly all Low Carbon Technologies. Using DC technology rather than the more commonly used AC (alternating current) means the use of electricity is more efficient as it does not have to go through the conversion process, which results in a loss of energy.

DC charge also means there is the flexibility to move power to where there is a high load, something which is more difficult to achieve with AC.

The trial in Taunton, which will be led by project partners Ricardo Energy and Environment, will use smart DC meshing technology to link four local substations from across the town centre, sharing their unused capacity to power 15 EV chargers. This will include five 100kW rapid chargers able to fully recharge the average EV in around 30 minutes. Taunton was selected due to site suitability and the engagement of the Council.

Following site confirmation, work will now start preparing the local plans for the EV charge stations in central Taunton. With building work scheduled throughout 2021, the charge points are due to open late next year. Throughout the trial, local residents will have 12 months of free charging.

Following the conclusion of the DC Share project, the EV charge stations will be passed on to a local service provider.

If successful, DC Share technology will be rolled out across WPD’s network to enable rapid installation of EV charging in towns and cities. With a high proportion of WPD’s 7.8m customers living in highly built-up towns and cities, the technology will ensure network constraints will not limit or delay customers’ access to ultra-low emission transport, renewable generation and local energy storage.

“Confirmation of Taunton as DC Share project site is an important step to securing the massive savings and decarbonisation benefits that DC meshing technology could bring to the UK,” said WPD Innovation & Low Carbon Network Engineer and DC Share project lead, Ricky Duke.

“As we look beyond COVID-19 towards the UK’s goal of Net Zero by 2050, innovative, low carbon technologies will be at the heart of the UK’s green recovery. Insights from DC Share will have a key role in helping us to build a stronger and cleaner UK economy.

“DC Share is a win-win: this technology will allow us to rapidly decarbonise transport by making smarter use of existing infrastructure. That means less carbon emissions, while reducing the need for expensive infrastructure and network reinforcements in urban communities.”

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