Want to know what happens if every electric car was plugged into the grid at the same time? Explosions, famine, death, pestilence… or perhaps none of those things. The truth is nobody really has a clue. Luckily for us, a group of companies, including Nissan, EA Technology and energy supplier Scottish and Southern Power (SSPD) have created the ‘My Electric Avenue’ experiment to find out.
My Electric Avenue will test electric car volume impact on the national grid by asking participating households – all of which are in close proximity, known as a ‘cluster’ – to drive a Nissan Leaf for 18 months and report back.
The project was not due to start until next year. However, over 2000 households signed up to participate in the scheme. The minimum testing figure of seven ‘clusters’ has been met and subsequently Ofgem has released funding four months early, so we can all get started on the pestilence (or whatever) sooner rather than later.
The joint venture, which includes input from Newcastle-based Zero Carbon Futures, has strict criteria for participants. Geographically, the participants must reside in a SSPD area or North East England. Each cluster of ten households will receive their electricity from the same substation and participants can be involved in both a ‘technical trial’ and a ‘social trial’.
In the ‘Technical Trial’ the participating households will drive a brand-new Nissan Leaf for only £100 per month, including insurance and servicing. EA Technology will then monitor the effect the increased volume of vehicles will have on electricity supply. It will gauge peak times and test new software technology designed to manage the increased demand.
During the test, the households may not always have control of ‘when’ their cars are charging. The folks running the test can activate or deactivate the charging to cause or avoid problems – which is just as well in case things go pear shaped.
In the ‘Social Trial’ the participating households will use a Leaf for a 24-month period, answering questions and giving feedback about their use of an EV. It is anticipated they will describe the pros and cons on their lifestyle, finances and energy supplies to their homes, during this time.
Participants will be offered the chance to buy their Leaf when the trial ends. Registration for the social trials is still open, so if you want a super-cheap electric car, live in one of the requisite areas and don’t mind the prospect of explosions, famine and spontaneous hell-tubes opening beneath your property (or none of the above) then get in touch with My Electric Avenue.
Stewart A Reid, SSEPD’s Future Networks Manager, commented: “This trial is so important as we move towards the low carbon future. The knowledge gained from My Electric Avenue will be shared amongst network operators, government, the energy industry, the low carbon vehicle sector and the general public as a whole.”