My Electric Avenue Charges Into Action

The My Electric Avenue network is charging into life with support from Drayson Racing Technologies and other local businesses at the company’s base in Oxfordshire, UK.

EV racing specialist Drayson Racing Technologies is looking seriously at becoming one of the first workplace charging clusters to be formed as part of the “My Electric Avenue” project.

My Electric Avenue said it is seeking ten “clusters,” each with a minimum of ten neighbors, to drive an electric vehicle (EV) for 18 months. The goal is to examine the impact of charging a group of EVs on the local electricity network.

The project, which is the first of its kind in the UK, is being led and delivered by EA Technology, and is receiving backing from Ofgem through the Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund, which supports projects sponsored by Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to explore new technology, operating and commercial arrangements.

A Nissan electric vehicle test drive event took place at Drayson Racing Technologies on July 18, which was designed to give staff at the company, together with employees from other local businesses BH Blackmore Ltd and BINIBI Tiles, an opportunity to test-drive an all-electric Nissan Leaf.

“Electric vehicles have a key role to play in helping to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, so it is essential to carry out research to ensure that the local electricity network can cope with increased numbers of EVs,” said Lord Drayson, owner of Drayson Racing Technologies. “Drayson Racing is pleased to be leading the way in bringing together a cluster of local businesses to test the impact of EV charging in a workplace environment.”

According to organizers of the event, many of the drivers were surprised by the car’s capabilities when they took to the wheel.

Mohammed Ali, Managing Director of BINIBI Tiles, commented “The Nissan LEAF is extremely smooth, refined and quiet, and it even has excellent performance and impressive handling. But perhaps the best feature of the LEAF is that there’s no need to refuel with expensive petrol or diesel – recharging the car with much cheaper electricity whilst at the office sounds like a much smarter idea.”

The test drive event was the subject of an episode of Robert Llewellyn’s Fully Charged series; the video can soon be seen at www.myelectricavenue.info

Nissan’s LEAF NISMO RC racing car was also on display at the event, demonstrating Nissan’s interest in participating in motor racing with a zero emission powertrain.

Although it is important to examine the impact that a cluster of EVs has in a business setting, My Electric Avenue is primarily looking to recruit residential clusters of EV users, therefore local communities are also racing to take up the challenge.

My Electric Avenue said recruitment for the project has been led from the ‘ground up’ by local champions who have taken it upon themselves to find other people in their area to form a cluster.

The Drayson Racing Technologies EV test drive event is one of a range of similar events taking place, signaling the next stage of the My Electric Avenue project – the formation of clusters of real EV drivers to trial charge control technology.

The result of this will be to alleviate stress on local electricity networks – and so save customers and network operators money and disruption in the long term.

Despite the project only being officially launched on June 3, 2013, there have already been more than 700 registrations of interest, over 500 active leads, 185 champions, and 42 emerging clusters – with the first clusters very close to being signed up.

Participants in My Electric Avenue project will drive an all-electric Nissan Leaf at an exclusively subsidized rate, as well as trialing new technology which monitors and controls charging.

All people in each cluster must be on the same feeder from the local electricity substation – in practice this means that they should either all live on the same street, or in very close geographical proximity. Participation in the project is subject to eligibility and availability.

Forecasts show that sales of electric vehicles – including plug-in hybrids as well as pure electric cars – will increase. In the event of a group of EVs on the same feeder being charged at the same time, and without any preparation, the load on the local electricity network may exceed the substation capacity. My Electric Avenue aims to provide a solution to this potential problem.

My Electric Avenue is a project led by EA Technology, a third party innovation technology deliverer, with project partner Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution Limited (SSEPD) as the host Distribution Network Operator (DNO).

Other project partners are Nissan (EV supplier), Fleetdrive Electric (EV rental program management), Zero Carbon Futures (charging point network developer) and Northern Powergrid (participating DNO).

In addition there are two academic partners, the University of Manchester (providing network modeling support), and De Montfort University (providing socioeconomic modeling support). Ricardo is providing independent technical verification to the project.