Technical trials take ‘Esprit’ to the limits

15th April, 2015

As part of the My Electric Avenue technical trials, Your Homes Newcastle is our only workplace cluster taking part in the trials. There are 13 work colleagues taking part in the trials and providing feedback to the project on their experiences.

As a commercial site, the electricity demand of this cluster is very different to the demands of the other (residential) clusters in the technical trials. Typically, in a residential setting, the electricity demand, or ‘load curve’ looks like a wave - with a morning and an evening peak – this is when people get up and get ready for work in the morning and when they return again in the evening.

As the Your Homes Newcastle cluster is based on a commercial site, the load looks different. It represents a bell shape, with a rise around 8-9am when people arrive for work, and a continually high demand until around 4-5pm when it drops as people leave work.

This bell-shape load curve represents a unique and not insignificant challenge to the My Electric Avenue team. That’s because Esprit works to reduce demand during peak hours in the day, and shifts it to later when the demand is not as high. There’s a delicate balance needed in setting a ‘threshold’ for the Esprit system so that it is activated enough to thoroughly trial the system, but also allow participants a reasonable time through the day to charge their vehicles.

This has been tested to the limits during the winter peak with participants breaking new ground in creating ‘acceptable’ limits of interruption to charging. A new approach, and with it a new threshold setting, was put in place in March following two months of participant feedback, during which time some participants were unable to get home after an incomplete charge at work.

Following the update we closely monitored charging patterns and encouraged participants again to provide feedback – both good and bad. To date, feedback has been largely positive about the changes to the system and participants have had sufficient charge to drive home. The new system controls charging for approximately four hours each working day, generally from 10am-2pm when the demand is at its highest.

The result of the new approach has shown that finding an acceptable balance of control using this type of demand-response is challenging in commercial settings but not impossible. The real question is whether the control in place, which participants accept, will provide enough ‘headroom’ for the low voltage network.

More analysis and further conclusions will be provided on the use of Esprit across different network types towards the end of this year.

The My Electric Avenue Project was delivered between January 2013 and December 2015 by EA Technology on behalf of Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) as part of the Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund suite of innovation projects. As the Project is now complete, this webpage will no longer be updated, however you can learn more about the work undertaken by EA Technology at www.eatechnology.com and SSEN at www.ssepd.co.uk/Home.

For details of My Electric Avenue's legacy iniatives, visit the webpages for the Smart EV Project and the EV Network Group

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