Charging project: Future test for SA?

⦁ Research to check future demand
⦁ All makes and models welcome in trial
⦁ Faster home-charging on horizon
SOUTH AFRICA lags well behind European countries in sales of battery cars and The Corner reckons much of that deficit can be blamed on the lack of public charging stations.
    Inter-city petrol stations, of course, will be loath to install such units – though we can’t understand why. After all, owners of oil-powered vehicles go there not only for fuel but also for rest and refreshments – so who could be a better customer than the owner of a battery car seeking to spend an hour or so getting a battery boost?
    And spending money.
    Smart businessmen in the UK, conceding the growth of electric cars – and the imminent arrival of electric trucks – are starting to have free smart chargers installed as part of an Electric Nation project.
     The latest smart chargers will future-proof owners against the cost of EV home-charging – though that is much, much, cheaper than buying conventional fuel – and will, it’s claimed, play an important role in a research project to ensure that the UK’s local electricity networks can cope with the ever-growing number of electric cars.
     Sales of electric vehicles in the UK are rising; there’s an increasing range of models; larger batteries; faster charging times – all of which are helping to reduce emissions and to lower running costs for owners.
     Britain’s power grid can easily deliver enough power to the national population of battery cars but some going-electric clusters of probably middle-class housing could be stressed at peak charging times.
     Some local electricity networks may need reinforcement.
     Electric Nation says it is testing a smart charging solution which could interact between domestic charging points and local electricity networks to allow the numbers of electric vehicles in the UK to increase while avoiding the cost and disruption of upgrading local electricity infrastructure.
     The findings of the trial will help power network operators in managing the additional load of plugged-in cars.
     One of the first Electric Nation participants, Clive Harding of Worcester in central England has had a smart charger installed for his Nissan Leaf. He joined Electric Nation as he was interested in the technology: “I now have a smart charger that is faster than a standard charger and every time I charge my car the data will help to ensure that the UK’s local electricity networks can cope with the predicted increase in the number of electric vehicles.”
     The project is seeking to recruit as many as 700 people to buy or lease a new battery car (of all makes and models – pure electric and plug-in hybrids) to take part in the largest trial of its kind.
     Those involved will get a free smart charger in their garage.
     Mark Dale of Western Power Distribution said: “So far the automotive sector and the energy sector have not worked together. That needs to change given the increased demand on local electricity networks caused by charging electric vehicles.
     “Electric Nation shows that Western Power Distribution is taking the issue seriously with a solution to potential capacity challenges in the form of smart charging and demand control.”
     Vehicle owners who buy or lease a new electric vehicle are invited to become part of the Electric Nation community, initially in the English Midlands and south-west and in south-west and south Wales.
     Eskom, are you listening?

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