Optimise Prime: UK Power Networks launches electric fleet planning tool

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UK Power Networks has launched a new tool as part of the world’s largest electric fleet trial, changing the process of going electric for businesses across the UK, it says.

Optimise Prime is a project helping find practical solutions to overcome the challenges fleet operators face when going electric.

Royal Mail, Centrica and Uber now have over 6,000 Electric Vehicles (EVs) taking part in the project, in partnership with UK Power Networks and Novuna.

As part of the project, UK Power Networks has developed a ‘site planning tool’ making it quicker and easier than ever before for fleets to make the switch to EVs.

A simple online system, it has been designed for any fleet manager to assess how to go electric at lowest cost.

Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “Most fleet managers have a busy operation to run, so we want to make sure switching to EVs is just as easy and cost effective as buying any car or van.

“The Site Planning Tool has transformed this process for businesses across the country.

“Helping fleet managers understand exactly what it will look like to run an electric fleet, what is involved and the cost saving benefits of smart charging is a vital step to helping businesses go electric.”

Electrifying a fleet is a complex process, says UK Power Networks. Managers must consider what vehicles are needed on which routes, when they are needed and where there is space to charge.

By inputting information such as vehicle schedules, mileage and site energy profiles, to the tool compares different scenarios to understand the impact of going electric and the benefits of using smart charging.

The tool also checks if a site needs an electricity connection upgrade, or if a fleet can operate on the existing connection.

As a result, distribution network operators have a better understanding of customers’ needs, reducing the need for costly, time-consuming upgrades and ultimately accelerating the uptake of electric vehicles in the transition to net zero.

Michael Wilmshurst, fleet business development manager at Novuna Vehicle Solutions, said: “UK Power Networks’ tool is straightforward to follow and supported with some good literature.

“In particular, the scenario results were really interesting, and I particularly liked the interactive graphs, which helps me to work out different scenarios on the optimum charging strategy to discuss with my commercial fleet clients, as they transition to electric vehicles.” 

The tool includes two main features:

  • Site Electrification Planner: designed to give a quick estimate of the cost to connect EV charge points at existing sites based on four inputs (number of charge points planned, power rating of the charge points, site connection limit and current peak demand).
  • Site Planning Tool: which requires more granular inputs and calculates the connection capacity required under different optimisation scenarios including a base case, unmanaged charging and smart charging. The results from the tool provides a good basis for discussion with the DNO.

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