UK-first electric vehicle smart charging scheme starts in Shropshire

Shropshire is one of four regions to take part in the world-leading scheme to demonstrate how smart technology can be integrated into public EV chargers across the UK, to support the green energy revolution and collectively save consumers millions of pounds in the process.

Shropshire was chosen due to reported high demand for public EV charging points from locals and now residents will be amongst the first in the UK to take part in the project.

EV ownership is skyrocketing, with UK registrations up 139% in 2021 compared to last year already – or 37% in Shropshire. However, the 40% of UK households without off-street parking have to rely on the public charging network to charge EVs, which at present is usually more expensive than charging on a driveway. Unlike those who can charge at home, drivers without off-street parking cannot benefit from smart energy tariffs which shave hundreds of pounds off the cost of charging every year. This creates significant inequality between road users, as outlined in a recent report commissioned by the UK Government.

Now, a UK-first government backed project – Agile Streets – will address this challenge. In Shropshire, the project will see 24 on-street smart chargers installed by Connected Kerb and will be the first in the UK to integrate smart metering technology into public on-street chargers. This cuts the cost of EV charging by as much as 40% for people who don’t have driveways – equivalent to savings of up to £290 a year on a Renault Zoe. Drivers will simply download an app to charge as they go.

Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, said: “Easy access to affordable charging infrastructure is one of the biggest barriers to the uptake of EVs. The number of smart energy tariffs has exploded in recent years thanks to increasing demand from EV owners, making charging at home one of the most affordable ways to travel today. However, almost half of us don’t have that privilege and instead rely on public charging infrastructure, which is often more expensive.

“It is vital that access to affordable energy is equitable across the entire population – driveway or not – and this project does just that, giving drivers in Shropshire without off-street parking the same benefits as everyone else.”

Smart metering allows EVs to schedule charging at times when energy prices are cheapest, such as overnight when demand is low, or on sunny and windy days when there is an abundance of supply due to additional solar and wind energy. This reduces emissions and keeps costs low for drivers. By telling the app what time you need the car charged by, drivers will always have enough power to drive away when needed.

Local drivers who have not yet gone electric but wish to participate in the scheme can still sign up to take part by subscribing to an electric car from EV subscription service, Elmo, at a special 40% discounted rate.

The Agile Streets project intends to demonstrate the use of a smart metering system as a new business model to manage public EV charging sustainably, incentivising EV drivers to allow a flexible charging schedule, normally reserved for those with home charging.

The trial will run from October 2021 until May 2022, giving hundreds of local drivers the opportunity to benefit. Once the trial is over, the 24 chargers will be handed over to Shropshire Council, providing much needed on-street EV charging infrastructure for future use, with the aim of increasing EV uptake ahead of the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles.

Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for climate change, natural assets and the green economy, said: “Providing equal access to affordable electric vehicle charging across the country is a key part of our plan to become carbon net-neutral by 2030 and assist in the ambition for Shropshire as a whole to become carbon net-neutral in the same year. This scheme offers a great opportunity for local businesses and residents to have access to charging infrastructure that could save them hundreds of pounds every year.

“Not only is this crucial as we move closer to the 2030 ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars, but it means that Shropshire can play its part in the green revolution.”

The Agile Streets project is delivered by a consortium comprised of Samsung Research, Connected Kerb, Octopus Energy For Business, SMETS Design Limited, Energy Saving Trust and the Power Networks Distribution Centre. The project was awarded £1.5m by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to deliver the Beyond Off Street Smart Meter Electric Vehicle Charging programme.

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