My Electric Avenue - Participants Needed

Slowly – very slowly – electric cars are gaining a foothold. This is a good thing, of course, because quite apart from any ecological considerations it’s time to recognize that the air we’re breathing in cities has become dangerously polluted. Earlier this year Beijing saw a reading of 755 on the Air Quality Index--a scale devised by the US Environmental Protection Agency where a score of 50 reflects good air, anything over 200 is rated as ‘Very Unhealthy’ and air with a score of over 500, well, it doesn’t say. The scale climaxes at 500 with the description ‘hazardous’ with risk of “serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly”. The US embassy in Beijing also recommends “everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors”. Air pollution is a big problem in the world’s megacities.

That’s all very dramatic, but it might pique your interest in joining a field trial (the largest ever in the UK) investigating the effects of electric car charging on local power grids and how such situations might be managed. With increased EV ownership will come potentially terminal repercussions to power cables as they’re asked to carry huge levels of charge. Replacing cabling is expensive and – as you’ll know – extremely disruptive. Instead, a smart solution needs to be implemented.

EA Technology and Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution are working with Nissan to simulate an electricity network of 2030, complete with electric cars (post mass-uptake, presumably). The trial, called My Electric Avenue, requires clusters of ten electric vehicle owners – ideally on the same street – so that the ‘Esprit’ charging system, which will stagger charge by duration and time, can be tested. The scheme itself needs people who feel like owning an EV, along with their neighbours, to sign up. You’ll have to check to see whether you live in the right area, but should you manage to recruit nine others for your cluster (or be recruited yourself) you’ll have access to a Nissan LEAF for £100 a month (18-month contract) and a charging point will be installed at your home. If you’ve not been put off by range anxiety (possibly from not having complete control over charging) by the end of it all, there will be the option to purchase the vehicle at the end of the trial.

There's a full FAQ section on the webiste but in terms of cost it's normally £2-3 for a full recharge and insurance isn't covered, although breakdown cover is provided.

Visit My Electric Avenue to apply.

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