UK’s Data Communications Company pilots EV chargers on smart meter network

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A pilot project launched by a consortium of technology companies in partnership with the Data Communications Company (DCC) aims to connect electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure on a national network.

The technology companies include cybersecurity and technology firm Toshiba, who are leading the consortium, IoT connectivity solutions firm Pelion, Vestel and firm has.to.be.

The project aims to supplement or enhance the current approach to EV infrastructure rollout and management rather than replacing it.

Data to be generated from the pilot will be used to inform the national rollout and secure management and operation of charging infrastructure.

Vestel will provide an EV charging point to be installed at DCC’s Manchester testing facility. The chargers will be connected to DCC’s network, which is currently connecting 12 million meters, to manage consumer data, charging control, and energy metering in real-time. Real-time data will be used to help grid operators ensure consumer EV charging does not stress the grid whilst consumers will leverage it to optimise their energy management and keep bills low. By so doing, the project will break down some of the most significant barriers to EV adoption, facing consumers and the industry – specifically security, interoperability, and load management. The project will also help utilities to take full advantage of renewable energy resources.

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With DCC’s network having been approved by the National Cyber Security Centre to meet the highest security standard, leveraging it for the national EV charging network, would safeguard consumer data and protect the energy grid from the threat of cyber-attacks, according to a statement.

Using a single network will also mean standardisation and interoperability of various EV chargers, a development that would enable consumers to seamlessly charge away from home without needing to sign up to a new charging network.

DCC CEO Angus Flett said: “To meet our national net-zero targets, we need to break down the barriers stopping people transitioning to electric vehicles.

“The technology already exists to simplify electric vehicle charging for everyone, and this partnership has the resources and expertise to show the industry what’s possible.”

“Drawing on this partnership’s significant technical expertise, we intend to demonstrate how the DCC’s secure nationwide network can be opened up to support the EV charging industry. This will help ensure that EV smart charging is secure and consumer friendly, and allows the system to make the best possible use of renewable sources.”

Charlene Marini, Pelion’s Chief Product and Marketing Officer, said: “Secure and full-featured device life cycle management is a vital element of every IoT rollout, especially one with the scale and security needs of Britain’s strategic national EV charging network.  Evolution is inevitable, especially for IoT solutions that will need to perform for years, if not decades.  Pelion’s combination of highly granular IoT device management and edge application orchestration empowers this solution with the capabilities to adapt and improve over time.”

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.