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The University of Southampton

Southampton leads project to alleviate future electric vehicle pressure on the electricity grid

Published: 16 May 2022
Electric car

A Southampton Engineering Professor is leading an EPSRC-funded project that aims to alleviate the demands on the electricity grid due to the oncoming rise in electric vehicle (EV) usage. 

Ofgem estimates that electric cars and vans will need between 65-100TWh of electricity annually by 2050 - an increase of 20-30 per cent compared to 2021 – putting increasing pressure on the electricity grid. 

Professor of Energy Technology Andrew Cruden is heading up the five-year EPSRC Programme Grant Future Electric Vehicle Energy Networks supporting Renewables (FEVER) that will explore ways to relieve the pressure with fully grid-independent, renewably powered charging hubs. 

He said: “Post 2030, it may be possible to get between 40-50 per cent EV penetration using methods such as supervisory control to alternate charging between EVs plugged in simultaneously on the same street. 

“But after that you really do need to reinforce the network. We’re looking at a scenario where all the EV charging energy would come from renewable sources. 

“However, a significant proportion of the existing renewable energy development portfolio is currently grid constrained, so many of these projects are not proceeding because of the time and cost of connecting to the grid. We are planning a potential solution to decouple that so that you would not be grid connected and therefore not constrained by the vagaries of the planning and the timing of getting a grid connection.”

Electric car

As well as renewables, the £6.6m project will incorporate an off-vehicle energy store (OVES) into the EV recharging solution, creating the nucleus of a local electrical smart grid that can flexibly support energy demand in communities under-served by current infrastructure. 

FEVER is a partnership led by the University of Southampton, with researchers from the universities of Sheffield and Surrey, investigating the technical, economic, policy and public acceptance of these novel EV charging stations. 

It also aims to blend available renewable sources from different sites and will take an agnostic view on OVES, although Andrew says it is likely there will be a significant battery element which could be in the form of a hybrid battery comprising, for instance, cheaper lead-acid batteries with more energy dense lithium-ion batteries. 

By the fourth and fifth year of the project, FEVER aims to deliver and operate two demonstrator EV charging hubs capable of charging between six or eight EVs. 

Andrew added: “If the initial phase of the project shows promise then there will be potential to look at a larger solution with between 25 and 50 vehicle capability.” 

The core FEVER research team from the universities of Southampton, Sheffield and Surrey is supported by 11 project partners from industry and related research groups including Shell, Siemens,  Supergen Storage Network+, the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), Cenex, GS Yuasa Battery (UK), Connected Places Catapult, Hive Energy Limited, The Faraday Institution, Wood plc and Dialogue Matters.


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