Electric vehicle 7

EV trial begins at Bruntwood buildings

Bruntwood has started installing electric charging points at its buildings in and around Greater Manchester as part of an Innovate UK Prospering from the Energy Revolution project in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Electric Vehicle ownership is increasing year on year, with the most recent industry figures showing 10.5% of all new cars registered in the UK were either pure-electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

In light of this, Bruntwood is looking at the best strategy to meet the needs of customers who drive electric vehicles and to promote the uptake of EVs across the customer base and beyond.

In July 2020, Bruntwood joined a two-year Innovate UK-funded project as part of a consortium comprising of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Ovo Energy, Regen, Cornwall Insights, Carbon Coop, Hitachi, Graham Oakes Limited, Electricity North West, Cadent Gas and Northwards Housing to create a Local Energy Market for Greater Manchester.

The project is looking at how the existing electricity markets work and what is needed to allow for a more fluid and local market that will allow people and organisations to trade energy. It will allow businesses to purchase energy at a local level from renewable sources, and also allow organisations to sell their excess energy. The project is looking at both commercial and domestic usage and generation so that at the outcome of the project, this will be fully inclusive and accessible, allowing anyone to participate. This forms part of the five-year environment plan for Greater Manchester and environmental vison for the region – to become carbon neutral by 2038.

The increase in EV ownership and the need for drivers to charge vehicles will have a major impact on the local energy distribution system in coming years which, through the project, Bruntwood is looking to address with the introduction of smart EV charging points. These will operate and charge vehicles while monitoring the buildings electrical draw and adjust the amount of power that is supplied to the vehicle to ensure the local network and building’s supply are not affected. This approach will allow buildings to deploy a greater number of charge points without the need to upgrade the building’s supply capacity. This is something it hopes to replicate in other regions across the portfolio, and will be replicable across the UK.

Bruntwood is trialling a number of smart controlled EV chargers which will be available to Bruntwood customers and the wider public. This will allow Bruntwood to become a leader in the field of EV charging in commercial buildings, whilst protecting both the building and local energy infrastructure by monitoring power consumption and adjusting the delivered power to ensure a balanced, sustainable and safe energy system.

The trial will also provide Bruntwood with data on EV drivers’ charging habits to help inform the next phase of deployment across its portfolio.

It is hoped that the trial will also allow for the public use of the charging infrastructure when not in use by the building and outside normal business hours. This will allow EV drivers that live close to Bruntwood buildings, who may not have home charging available, to connect and charge their vehicle. This innovative approach has the potential to influence decision-making of the purchase of electric vehicles from drivers that may not otherwise be able to charge at home, but could charge at a local building through a bookable system.

Funding for the trial was secured from Innovate UK. Charging points are now being installed at sites throughout the Bruntwood Manchester portfolio. These trial sites have been chosen due to their proximity to the city centre and areas where EV charging is needed.

A bigger roll-out of EV charging points is expected to follow across the Bruntwood portfolio soon.

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