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UK distribution network operator Northern Powergrid has launched a free, online tool to revolutionise its electric vehicle (EV) connections process.

The online system is underpinned by real-world network data to help users identify the best new EV charging point connections locations.

The online tool AutoDesign can provide an indicative connection cost in minutes, instead of the usual 10-day turnaround. It provides a clear indicator of the possible and most cost-effective locations to install EV chargers across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

 Users of the completely free system will benefit from unique access to accurate data and the ability to easily explore their connections options and quickly create personalised budget estimates, ultimately providing greater transparency about network capacity and enabling informed decisions about where to connect.

 Derek Fairbairn, System Design Manager at Northern Powergrid, said: “AutoDesign will provide real benefits and an enhanced level of real-world insight. It will enable local authorities, EV installers and businesses planners to see, in a matter of minutes, the best locations to install chargers and the associated cost. This newly available network data intelligence will significantly improve the EV connections process and help accelerate the clean transport transition.”

 Approximately three-quarters of local authorities across Northern Powergrid’s patch have declared a climate emergency and are looking for practical next steps to reduce emissions. Transport is the UK’s largest emitter of toxic greenhouse gases. In response, the government has banned the sale of internal combustion engines from 2040, when Northern Powergrid predicts there could be almost 4.5 million EVs on roads across its operational area.

With more people mapping a ‘road to zero’ for their homes and businesses, Northern Powergrid has launched the system to put more accurate real-world information in customers’ hands and improve the experience for those looking to connect.

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“The electrification of transport is essential if we are to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and our future scenarios show that the rate of EV growth will be significant. We want to actively support the EV transition and ensure our network meets the future needs of our customers and the communities we serve,” added Derek.

 The AutoDesign tool uses simple green, amber and red (yes/probably/no) indicators to guide users towards the most cost-effective and viable connection options.

Customer and stakeholder involvement informed the system design, which was developed with the support of EA Technology using Northern Powergrid’s Network Innovation Allowance (NIA), underlining the company’s approach to delivering customer-led innovations and improvements.