Western Power Distribution (WPD) in partnership with Ricardo Energy and Environment, confirmed the site for its innovative DC Share project, trialling a new method which will help deliver an estimated 217,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers in urban spaces across its licence area by 2023. The technology will help to get over 3 million EVs moving across the Midlands, South Wales and South West by 2023.

The DC Share project, which has received over £4.7 million in funding through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition will test a new method of pooling extra network capacity from several local substations. This will enable low carbon infrastructure, such as EV charge points or battery energy storage, to be quickly connected without the need for expensive network reinforcement.

DC Share’s approach will be particularly useful in dense urban communities, where the adoption of low carbon technologies can be slowed by constraints and a lack of available space for building a larger network of substations.

The trial in Taunton, Somerset, which will be led by project partners Ricardo Energy and Environment, will use smart DC meshing technology to link four local substations from across the town centre, sharing their unused capacity to power 15 EV chargers. This will include five 100kW rapid chargers able to fully recharge the average electric vehicle in around 30 minutes. Taunton was selected due to site suitability and the proactive engagement of the council.

If successful, DC Share technology will be rolled out across WPD’s network to enable rapid installation of EV charging in towns and cities. With a high proportion of WPD’s 7.8 million customers living in highly built-up towns and cities, this technology will ensure that network constraints will not limit or delay customers’ access to ultra-low emission transport, renewable generation, and local energy storage.

By reducing the need for costly network reinforcement, the DC Share approach will also help keep customer bills down, with initial savings from implementing the technology rising from £50 million in 2030 to an estimated £162 million a year in 2050, across the UK.