Northumbria University has developed a formula to help predict the impact electric vehicles (EV) will have on the national grid. The new formula was developed as a collaborative effort between the University and the Charge your Car project, a Government programme that is overseeing the rollout of over 1,000 electric car charging points across the North East.

Dr Ghanim Putrus, Reader in Electrical Power Engineering in the School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences, led the project which aimed to create an easy-to-use tool to help policy makers prepare for an increase in EVs whilst determining the affect on the national grid of the increased draw from EVs.

Putrus’ ‘grid capacity calculator’ measures an area’s existing energy consumption and then calculates the likely future demand for, and impact of, having increased numbers of electric cars drawing from the area’s power supply.

Putrus said: “The resource will help policy-makers, developers and network operators to analyse the impact of electric vehicles in the presence of micro generators and low carbon technologies. It will help to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. This tool will help to build the infrastructure around electric cars and can be used inside and outside the region, as well as in international contexts.

“Any electricity usage scenario can be tested using this tool, giving a picture of what can happen to existing grid infrastructure and helping to plan future power networks or smart grids.”

The project coincides with the UK naming the North East as the first designated low carbon economic area (LCEA), as a result, significant EV infrastructure will be put in place in the region by 2013. With the infrastructure in place it is expected that more people will switch from petrol or diesel cars to electric ones. These changes will mean that more people will be charging their cars, placing further pressure on an already over-stretched grid.

The team behind the project are currently discussing a follow up project with Charge your Car, which will look to develop the tool further to provide analysis of ‘smart charging’ of electric vehicles.