London will be home to an electric vehicle (EV) charging pilot scheme to help prepare the rest of the country for a major push in the use of electric vehicles. 

Five electric charge points are to be set up in central London, 10 in east London, and 50 others in popular London sites.

The trial is being organised by UK Power Networks, who act as the distributed network operator for London and the south east of England.

The trial is part of UK Power Networks’ ‘Low Carbon London’ project to research the use of low carbon technologies in London.

Also helping run the trial is electric vehicle charger manufacturer, POD Point and Smarter Grid Solutions who provide utilities with alternatives to expensive grid upgrades and expansion.

In July last year, a survey by international electrical supply distributors, Rexel, and pollster Censuswide revealed over 40% of British drivers would consider buying an electric or hybrid vehicle in the next five years, but cost and infrastructure worries are stopping them.

POD’s carbon synch software is being tested from December to April with Smarter Grid Solutions’ active network management system, the innovative grid technology will ensure enough energy at varying periods of peak and low demand is available so drivers always have sufficient charge.

Erik Fairbairn, CEO of POD Point, said: “The software used in this trial monitors in real time the demand, the status of all charge points in the network, and the level of charge required by each car in real time. This information is fed into a control algorithm which carefully manages the charge point to ensure the driver gets a full charge without exceeding local capacity.”

Information on live electricity demand will be used by the Imperial College London to estimate the impact to cables and sub stations.

Smart systems are required to prevent overload from increased demand, and to prevent having to upgrade substations or digging up cables under busy roads for repair.

Alan Gooding, commercial director and co-founder of Smarter Grid Solutions, said the network management system being piloted has already proven successful at distributing renewable energy to busy networks, and the trial is “a great opportunity” to show how the system can also assist in integrating electric vehicles to existing networks.

According to the WWF, if the UK is to meet its agreed carbon reduction target of at least 80% by 2050, around 1.7 million EVs need to be sold by 2020 and 6.3 million by 2030.

It’s estimated if there is a 25% increase in EVs by 2030, without the use of smart grids, around half of local electric transformers would need upgrading, using smart grid solutions could help mitigate the costs associated with switching from petrol to electric vehicles.

Michael Clark, Low Carbon London programme director, said: “Success in these trials could reduce the cost and disruption associated with building new power infrastructure to support the expansion of EV charging systems, benefiting consumers across the country.”

It’s hoped the trial will significantly assist in electricity replacing fuel and diesel as a main transport energy source. The government’s current carbon plan stipulates 10% of UK transport energy is to come from renewable sources by 2020.

The trial should help combat the major concern raised in the survey: that an electric or hybrid would run out of energy before completing journeys: 62% of respondents said a lack of charging stations make electric cars seem impractical over petrol and diesel cars. An alarming 72% of drivers said they have never even seen an EVcharger.

There are more than 3,000 publicly accessible charge points in the UK, but 50% of those surveyed were concerned that they wouldn’t know where to charge their vehicle and 30% of Brits have no idea who they would go to for advice on EVs and how to charge them.

Last year a House of Commons transport select committee report on plug-in car policies said emissions from cars account for over half the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions.

In February last year, the coalition invested £37million in installing electric car chargers.