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Webinar Recap: Smart Grid Solutions for the EV Revolution

  • Written by Kelly Helfrich
  • March 23, 2023
Woman walking to entrance of her house while her electric car is charging

As the EV revolution continues to gain momentum, how can utilities stay ahead of the curve? On February 22, Resource Innovations and UK Power Networks (UKPN) teamed up to share our actionable approach to addressing load growth as EV adoption rises in our latest webinar, Smart Grid Solutions for the EV Revolution.

Key insights

  • UK Power Networks’ Active Response project has the potential to revolutionize how the utility manages surplus network capacity while reducing CO2 emissions by 40,000 tons and saving a projected £700M by 2050.
  • To address challenges raised by the increase of electric vehicles on the grid, the Active Response project has designed and tested new power electronic devices and network optimization and automation software that successfully move spare capacity to where there is demand.
  • This is the first time the new devices, known as Soft Open Points and Soft Power Bridges, and software have been used in a distribution network.
  • The Active Response project leverages Resource Innovations’ decades of experience with state estimation and security-constrained-optimal-power-flow engines, providing advanced functionality, scalability, and performance.

Covering the territory of London and South East England, UK Power Networks is the UK’s largest electricity distributor. While there are currently 400,000 registered electric vehicles within its service territory, by 2030 this amount is anticipated to increase to 4.5 million. Because just one rapid EV charger can use as much electricity capacity as an apartment building, UK Power Networks is proactively addressing its need to rapidly increase EV infrastructure with its groundbreaking project, Active Response.

Intelligent innovations

The Active Response project uses UK Power Networks’ and Resource Innovations’ collaboration on a comprehensive ANM (Active Network Management)/DERMS (Distributed Energy Resource Management System) analysis and optimization software to enhance grid flexibility. It uses computer simulations to test active response software on substations and reconfigures power flows around the network to efficiently distribute electrical load across available infrastructure and avoid disruptive network reinforcement. As the network management system and forecasting and analytics software work cohesively together, UKPN effectively manages its distribution network to mitigate sudden load growth, optimize charging infrastructure, and ensure grid readiness.

Resource Innovations’ Grid360 software solution is the advanced network modeling, simulation, and analysis platform that supports UKPN’s ANM system by enabling distribution system planners to forecast, analyze, and optimize grid operation. It runs diagnostics every 30 minutes and sends recommendations and device settings via Smarter Grid Solutions’ Strata Grid to control engineers who implement the changes to increase efficiencies.

The project applies new ways of thinking to achieve a responsive electric network that reconfigures itself in real-time to move spare capacity to where it’s needed most. UK Power Networks worked with manufacturers to develop four new types of hardware: remote-controllable LV switches called ALVIN circuit breakers, which sit inside secondary substations; link boxes, which sit on the network and enable interconnection with substations; Soft Open Points within the low voltage network; and Soft Power Bridges, which are placed within substations. This is the first time these devices and network optimization and automation software have been used in a distribution network.

The outcome

UK Power Networks estimates that by 2050, it can achieve £700M in direct financial savings and 6,000 MVA of released capacity. By optimizing existing substations and feeder infrastructure with this breakthrough technology, UK Power Networks projects it can save 40,000 tons of CO2, while also helping EV customers experience faster, more cost-effective connections.

Why should utilities get involved?

One of the biggest industry questions of our time is “Can the electricity grid handle the growing load from EVs?” And we ask this question for good reason; more than 10 million new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered globally in 2022 (that's a 39 percent increase since 2021). Resource Innovations’ EV grid optimization services and software address these grid reliability concerns and the EV transition by engaging with utilities and ISOs to customize intelligent solutions and optimize the growing EV population on the grid. As we rethink how we use energy, we invite you to join us to create brilliant solutions together.

Let’s make an impact together.

Together, our software and services are supercharging the EV revolution. To learn more about how we can develop solutions for your community, contact me, Kelly Helfrich.