UK Power Networks and logistics company UPS are set to increase the number of electric vehicles operating from one of central London’s biggest depots by almost 50% after being awarded funding of £3 million to help improve London’s air quality.
The project will see the UPS’ Central London depot in Camden become a testbed for technology aimed at reducing the cost of charging freight electric vehicles.
It will increase the number of electric freight vehicles operating in the fleet from 50 to 70 – and pave the way for running more than 150 vehicles from the site.
Freight electric vehicles can use up to 10 times as much power as a typical home when they are charging, meaning that charging large numbers at the same time puts significant demand on the depot’s energy supply.
UK Power Networks said this has meant that, fleet operators have typically needed to pay for significant upgrades to add capacity to their existing power supply from the network to meet their new EV charging demand, but the company is now trialing a series of measures aiming to bring that cost down.
By charging the fleet at night, UPS is able to take advantage of troughs in demand for energy and avoid overloading the network during times of peak demand.
UK Power Networks is developing software that help to assess how many electric vehicles can safely charge at any one time by evaluating thousands of pieces of information about how much and when people use electricity.
The project, funded by Innovate UK, will also seek to use battery energy storage to support EV charging.
The vehicles will be charged directly from the network outside peak times, and the battery will step in to charge the vehicles when demand for electricity in the local area is high.
Tobi Babalola, of the UK Power Networks innovation team, said the project was responding to growing customer interest in electrifying commercial vehicle fleets.
He said: “This project is going to lead the way for improving London’s air quality by helping to get more low emission vehicles onto our roads at lower cost.
"It will deliver insights that will inform the entire electricity industry at a key moment for electric vehicle technology.
“Electric vehicles are likely to have a significant impact on the way that people consume energy, which is why it’s so important that we embrace the latest technology to maximise the efficiency of our energy network.”
Peter Harris, director of sustainability at UPS Europe, added: “UPS has a long heritage of deploying more sustainable alternative fuels and advanced technology
- reducing its carbon footprint and progressing its green strategy.
"Electric vehicles are a major component within our alternative fuel fleet and this partnership with UK Power Networks has the potential to transform the way we charge our electric vehicles in London.
"If successful, it will almost certainly be a key enabler for UPS to electrify its other fleets in the UK and beyond."