UPS joins smart EV fleet charging innovation project

UPS Arrival van

UPS will take part in a smart electric vehicle (EV) charging project, in collaboration with UK Power Networks, Moixa, Cross River partnership and Innovate UK.

The EV Fleet-Centred Local Energy Systems (EFLES) project is aimed at optimising logistics companies’ growing EV fleets and demonstrating how smart charging can incentivise large fleet operators to go electric.

The project, set to begin on May 1 will use Moixa’s GridShare artificial intelligence (AI) software to analyse hundreds of data sources at UPS’ Camden depot – including energy prices, power demand and the weather – to optimise EV charging, as well as power supply and demand in order to demonstrate how to effectively cut costs.

Vehicles will be able to charge when power is cheapest and cleanest by, for example, using onsite energy storage and solar at the most cost-effective times.

“Our ever-growing online shopping rates mean we’re delivering more things than ever before – everything from food shopping to medical supplies – and that’s having a big impact on carbon emissions and air pollution in our cities. Mitigating these impacts is a massive challenge but this project shows how with the help of the AI powered technology, like GridShare, the world’s biggest fleet operators can go electric and achieve their environmental ambitions,” said Simon Daniel, CEO of Moixa.

UPS will provide its expertise in fleet operation and act as a testbed to demonstrate the business case for AI-led local energy systems, providing a blueprint for other global fleet operators to follow.

In January 2020, UPS announced a commitment to buy 10,000 tailor-made electric vans from UK start-up Arrival. UPS also took a minority stake in the company, demonstrating its commitment to decarbonising its fleet. The Camden site will be used to develop and test the system, as well as to illustrate the business need for this innovative solution that is helping to break down the barriers surrounding large scale transitioning to EV fleets.

Claire Thompson-Sage, sustainable development coordinator at UPS, said: “This project will build on our EV infrastructure technology to help develop a holistic local energy system. We are proud to spearhead such an exciting smart-grid project and look forward to taking it to the next level by making it even smarter.”

Cross River Partnership will assess how these technology solutions can deliver London’s aims to improve air quality, unlock job opportunities and deliver energy, cost and time savings for businesses in the UK and internationally.

The project builds on the Smart Electric Urban Logistics trial from 2017-19, which saw CRP, UPS and UK Power Networks develop new charging technology at the Camden depot, to overcome the challenge of charging an EV fleet without a costly upgrade of the local power network.

One of the key challenges to the electrification of transport is the capacity of local power networks to deliver charging. Power infrastructure is becoming increasingly constrained and network reinforcement can be costly. Smart charging can help by shifting demand to less constrained times, alleviating pressure on local networks and avoiding costly network upgrades.

Philip Heathcote, head of markets at UK Power Networks Services, said: “We are delighted to continue partnering with UPS and Cross River Partnership to deliver this innovative project with Moixa that will provide further data and insight into how we can get more electric vehicles on the road in the most efficient and cost-effective way.”

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