Project Partners

East Border RegionDundalk Institute of TechnologyHITRANS (Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership)Louth County CouncilSouth West CollegeUlster UniversityUniversity of Strathclyde

Project Overview

Governments across the world are exploring options to transition their population away from internal combustion vehicles towards alternative low and zero-carbon technologies. For small ‘light-duty’ personal and commercial vehicles, the transition towards battery-powered electric vehicles appears to be the candidate solution.

In Scotland since 2013, more than £50 million has been invested into a nationwide electric vehicle (EV) charging network consisting of more than 2,400 charging points. Statistics for the year 2022 indicate that more than 2 million vehicle charging sessions took place on the public charging network in Scotland (not including third-party operators nor private charging points) and delivered approximately 43 GWh of energy to vehicles.

As sales of EVs continue to grow in Scotland, current and future charging infrastructure must provide adequate geographic coverage across the country while also being sized appropriately to service user demand. While it is important to make sure that there is adequate provision to support demand, it is also necessary that there is a fully country-wide charging network to create user confidence in nationwide travel. Ensuring provision in rural and islanded communities is an important factor when deploying this national charging network.

Project Aims

The FASTER project deployed 73 publicly accessible journey charge points throughout Western Scotland and the border region between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The project is a €6.4 million Interreg VA project led by East Border Region Ltd in partnership with the University of Strathclyde and HITRANS (Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership).

Interreg Europe is an interregional cooperation program, co-funded by the European Union. HITRANS is one of seven Regional Transport Partnerships in Scotland which were established through the 2005 Transport (Scotland) Act. East Border Region is a local authority-led cross-border organisation serving six local authorities along the east coast of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The FASTER project worked with several rural local authorities across Western Scotland, as outlined below, to identify suitable locations for 23 journey charge points, which were installed throughout 2023.

FASTER local authority regions - Scotland
FASTER local authority regions – Scotland

 

PNDC’s Role

 
While local authorities have good local knowledge of their area, they have limited visibility of EV growth projections and the associated impact on the power distribution network in their region. A major limitation is the lack of visibility of the power distribution network topology and the available capacity – particularly at low voltage levels, where most costs and upgrades apply.

To assist local authorities in the deployment of new charging infrastructure, the team at PNDC has implemented a layered modelling approach to help identify candidate sites for rapid charger deployment. This methodology considers charging demand forecasts, geospatial coverage, existing usage rates and site-specific metrics including land ownership and user convenience.

Time isochrones for the existing network with an area of poor coverage outlined via the dashed circle.
Time isochrones for the existing network with an area of poor coverage outlined via the dashed circle.

 
The model produces a ranked-order list and an interactive GIS (geographic information system) mapping file to help local authorities and transport partnerships understand priority locations for EV infrastructure. The data-underpinning the entire process is from publicly available sources helping to create an open and transparent process for local authorities and third-parties to re-use.

Detailed view displaying EV demand density in an urban population centre

Detailed view displaying EV demand density in an urban population centre.

Example extract from the distribution company GIS network map

Example extract from the distribution company GIS network map.

 

Project Outcomes

 
This project developed an open methodology to site high-powered EV charging in rural communities across Scotland. The process builds on open and publicly available datasets allowing future replication. The project deployed 23 journey charge points across rural communities in the country. Several recommendations have been provided in the paper to help provide an improved user experience, particularly concerning the parallel deployment of multiple sites of similar specifications.

PNDC’s Impact

Delivery of 23 Rapid EV charging sites across the west coast of Scotland (Highland Council, Western Isles + Argyll & Bute).

Process and learnings fed into Transport Scotland and Energy Saving Trust‘s best practice documents.

Several international conference papers including a featured IEEE magazine article on the process.

FASTER (Facilitating A Sustainable Transition to EVs in the Region)

Testimonial

HITRANS started working with Ryan Sims and Lewis Hunter at PNDC on the FASTER electric vehicle charger project. They developed a robust and replicable methodology for charger site selection, encompassing network gaps, forecast demand, electrical capacity and local knowledge. Their specialist skills and knowledge was always pitched to their audience and they were helpful and generous to work with. We have since explored whole energy systems and telecommunications in rural areas with PNDC. We thoroughly recommend working with them!

Gemma Robinson – HITRANS

Publications

L. Hunter, R. Sims and S. Galloway, “Open Data to Accelerate the Electric Mobility Revolution: Deploying Journey Electric Vehicle Chargers in Rural Scotland,” in IEEE Power and Energy Magazine, vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 56-67, Nov.-Dec. 2023, doi: 10.1109/MPE.2023.3308221.

L. Hunter and R. Sims, “Faster: a site-selection methodology for journey EV chargers,” CIRED Porto Workshop 2022: E-mobility and power distribution systems, Hybrid Conference, Porto, Portugal, 2022, pp. 369-373, doi: 10.1049/icp.2022.0729.

L. C. Hunter, G. Robinson, R. Sims and S. Galloway, “From planning to deployment – insights into installing publicly-accessible journey EV charging infrastructure,” EVI: Charging Ahead (EVI 2023), Glasgow, UK, 2023, pp. 98-101, doi: 10.1049/icp.2023.3133.

Get in touch

For further information on this case study and to discuss collaborative opportunities, please contact the PNDC project lead, Dr Lewis Hunter.

Established in 2013, PNDC is one of the University of Strathclyde’s industry-facing innovation centres and focuses on accelerating the development and deployment of novel energy and transport technologies through multiple collaboration models and open access facility provision.

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