WEL Networks and Raglan Local Energy have launched an electric vehicle (EV) smart charging and distributed energy resources (DERs) trial.

Creating an innovative and sustainable energy future
To prepare the electricity network for the future, the three-year Raglan-based trial will use smart charging units to understand the way EV drivers charge their vehicles at home and the integration impact on the WEL Network.

WEL Networks Chief Executive Garth Dibley said:
“As part of the Government’s push to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, the electrification of transportation is one of the biggest opportunities we have in the energy sector to help New Zealand achieve a low-carbon economy. As EV uptake increases, the EV network integration will have a significant impact on energy affordability and network reliability.”

The trial, made up of Raglan-based EV and DER owners, will use algorithmic EV charging with smart chargers that are fully integrated into WEL’s Distributed Energy Resources Management System (DERMS). This platform allows multiple devices to be controlled remotely (including EV chargers, solar, battery storage, hot water systems etc.) using artificial intelligence with benefits for customers, including household level protection from overloading due to increased electricity consumption and lower running costs. It also enables these DER devices to be used to support the network during periods of constraint and participate in the wider energy markets.

The objective of the trial will be to enable a better energy future for customers using a data-driven innovative service model, to improve the economics and appeal of EVs by shifting charging from times of the day when energy is more expensive to off-peak periods, and when wholesale prices are low – typically when wind and solar are generating strongly.

Smart charging enables charging at times when demand is lowest, and electricity is cheapest which reduces the impact on the network and the cost to the customer. The learnings from this trial, will allow us to prioritise the right resources at the right time to meet the increased demand that’s expected from the electrification of transport.

Neil, who lives in Raglan and commutes daily to Hamilton, is part of the trial.

“My round trip is about 83km so it’s important that my car is fully charged. It is great having a charger at home. With the price of petrol going up I’m really appreciating my EV but most of all I like the zero emissions,” he says.


Community input
The community involvement and engagement with Raglan Local Energy, which started in February 2020, has been one of the major success stories to date.

WEL Networks want to continue to encourage the local community, through proactive engagement and collaboration throughout this trial, to be part of solving the network demand issues, while also ensuring that EV owners have a positive experience using the network to charge their vehicles. They hope this trial will help us understand how we can maximise the benefits to customers by offering products that reduce their EV charging costs, as well as how we can manage EV charging in a way that helps with grid and network stability.

The trial started in March 2022.

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