Northern Powergrid facilitates mass electric vehicle-planning as game-changing
AutoDesign tool launches
Yorkshire and the North East’s councils recently took part in the area’s first co-working session as part of an event led by Northern Powergrid, the electricity distribution network operator for the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, to support the launch of its AutoDesign tool.
Using the new tool live at Leeds’ Cloth Hall, 29 local authority stakeholders and associated consultants from 15 councils across Yorkshire and the North East were able to pinpoint the most practical and cost-effective locations for new electric vehicle (EV) charging points.
The AutoDesign tool, which is free, enables users to identify the best new charging point connection locations. The innovative tool uses real-world network data to provide an indicative connection cost and personalised budget estimates in minutes, instead of the usual 10-day turnaround. It enables informed decisions by providing greater transparency around network capacity and clear indicators of possible and most cost-effective locations to install EV chargers across Northern Powergrid’s operating area.
Setting the scene at the event, Cllr Naheed Mather, Cabinet Member for Greener Kirklees – the first local authority in Yorkshire to declare a climate emergency – talked about Kirklees Council’s pioneering EV charging project and the need for deliverable net zero solutions.
Cllr Mather commented: “In Kirklees we have invested in introducing up to an additional 100 electric vehicle charging points over the next few years. To have the opportunity to come and test the new Northern Powergrid AutoDesign tool alongside my local authority peers and hear about their plans was really valuable. I was delighted to be able to set the context for the day about the need for action against the backdrop of the escalating climate breakdown.”
In a first for Northern Powergrid, attendees were invited to bring details of ongoing EV projects to work on during a live co-planning session during the morning to trial the AutoDesign tool. Local authority representivites were able to use the innovative system for the first time and offer valuable feedback on the tool, as well as discuss features for future iterations.
Ann Wilson, the Strategic Freight Advisor at Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “The launch event provided a valuable opportunity to test AutoDesign using real life locations and scenarios. Cost and availability of power are two vital considerations when undertaking EV planning and AutoDesign will be an essential tool in streamlining what was previously a lengthy process.
“It was also useful to discuss the challenges of EV charging with both Northern Powergrid and our fellow local authorities. Understanding EV plans for the region will help us realise our ambitions to introduce a number of EV charging hubs across the Tees Valley.”
Clare Roberts, Northern Powergrid’s System Design Engineer, said: "The AutoDesign tool has been customer-led since day one. We have been engaging extensively with local authorities for over a year and their feedback has driven the tool’s development.
“The electrification of transport is a vital part of the decarbonisation process. The feedback we receive from connecting with local authorities around EVs will help shape future business plans and priorities and drive the transition to a net zero future across our region.”
With more people mapping a ‘road to zero’, Northern Powergrid has launched the tool to put more accurate real-world information in customers’ hands and improve the experience for those looking to connect.