High complexity of electric vehicle flexibility services likely to see fleets participate via intermediaries, Optimize Prime trial finds

Royal Mail’s fleet of electric vehicles is one of many taking part in the Optimize Prime trial. Picture: Royal Mail

The latest report from the Optimize Prime trial contains detailed insights into the applicability of flexibility and streamlined connections for electric vehicle (EV) fleets.

Launched in July 2021, the trial examines three electric vehicle (EV) fleet charging use cases, namely return-to-home charging with Centrica’s British Gas fleet, depot charging with Royal Mail and mixed charging via Uber vehicles.

He found that connection costs can help “make or break” an investment case for electrification, but they are not the primary driver of electrification costs.

Furthermore, he found that with the high complexity and level of automation required to reduce transaction costs, it is likely that fleets will participate in flexibility markets through intermediaries such as aggregators or kiosk operators. charging.

However, regular shift patterns during weekdays mean that plug-in rates can be accurately predicted with an estimated 95% accuracy in home trials. This should enable the provision of reliable flexibility services, according to the report.

Weekdays and holidays are more difficult to predict due to irregular working hours.

The report also detailed how an adequate EV load proportional to the background load is necessary for a successful streamlined connection. The controllable EV load must be greater than the building load variation, so consider whether a site is suitable.

Additionally, determining an accurate profile is key to being able to adhere to the profile, with the report indicating that profiled connections may need to be refined as more data becomes available.

DSOs may therefore need to be flexible in considering changing requirements over time and will need to put in place contractual, operational and technical measures to manage risk.

Other lessons learned from the project include that charging facilities play a key role in giving drivers confidence that they can perform their daily tasks, but that Centrica found that installing home charging slowed its rollout and sometimes required drivers to use public charging as an alternative.

This was usually due to domestic properties that were already over capacity due to electric heating or were loop powered.

The report also detailed how the total cost of ownership currently favors electric or internal combustion engine vehicle fleets varies widely, with EV prices being the determining factor in whether EVs make purely economic sense for a fleet. .

However, many other factors affect the cost, with the economic cost also having to be weighed against the clear environmental benefits of adopting electric vehicles.

The trials, which are partly funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, are due to finish at the end of June this year.

Trial partners include distribution network operators (DNOs) UK Power Networks and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, as well as other partners including Hitachi Vantara, Hitachi Europe and Novuna.

In 2019, before trials began, Project Optimize Prime was hailed as one of the largest electric vehicle trials in the world, with the idea that the project would collect data on electric vehicle charging to provide insights on areas where networks should invest and provide a model for fleet operators looking to electrify.

Sharon D. Cole