1 February 2019 Company News, EV Charging

SMS Ltd partners with Virgin Media on EV charging innovation project

charging electric car

SMS Ltd is pleased to announce a partnership with Virgin Media for the Virgin Media Park and Charge (VPACH) project.

The VPACH project is part of the Electric vehicle charging for public spaces: feasibility studies competition, funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) in partnership with Innovate UK.

OLEV and Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million across a two-phase competition. VPACH is one of 27 feasibility studies being funded to develop business cases and deploy new approaches to electric vehicle (EV) charging.

About the VPACH project

Starting on 1 January 2019 for a period of three months, the VPACH project will assess the feasibility and then demonstrate the opportunity to build a fully integrated, scaleable and timely EV charging network for on-street residential parking. The project will leverage existing and widespread power and communications network assets in Virgin Media’s access network infrastructure of cabinets and ducts as a foundation.

This innovative business model would re-purpose and evolve existing infrastructure
assets to meet EV charging market needs, minimise the clutter of new street furniture, and benefit from access to a high-speed data communications network.

Virgin Media, which has one of the largest powered communication networks in the UK, has actively been looking at how it can use this street-based infrastructure in innovative ways to support smart city applications such as Electric Vehicle charging, IoT and other communications networks and a variety of monitoring applications.

On average, 28%* of the UK population does not have access to off-street parking, this rises to 38%* of households within large towns and cities. With on-street parking being the main source of parking real-estate in these areas, there is a large market for the development of an on-street charging solution.

*Source: RAC Spaced Out

On-street residential parking is seen as a challenging market segment to address for charging operators due to high costs and time of deploying infrastructure, complexities of installation and significant amount of up front capital required. However, exploitation of Virgin Media’s deep network of street based residential network assets would provide a significant stepping stone to establishing an EV charging network cost effectively and in a timely manner.

This project, led by Virgin Media’s metering and grid connection partner, SMS Ltd, will assess the ability to deliver kerb side EV charging connectivity that is also hardware agnostic.

SMS has a strong relationship with Virgin Media, having nationwide responsibility for the delivery of power across their network of cabinets. SMS provides engineering, metering and energy consultancy skills on a range of activities, from new build rollouts, to energy efficiency and optimisation, metering and data.

The wider project consortium contains partners from across the value chain to ensure that the feasibility prepares the ground for a technically, commercially and regulatory viable demonstrator project. The consortium includes Virgin Media, SMS Ltd, eMotorWerks, Cenex, Loughborough University Transport Studies Group, Oxfordshire County Council and Transport for West Midlands.

About the innovation funding programme

The VPACH project will be funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) in partnership with Innovate UK as part of the Electric vehicle charging for public spaces: feasibility studies competition.

The first phase of the funding programme will see 27 feasibility studies analyse the application and impact of innovative technologies for EV charging. In particular, 18 feasibility studies will focus on how a well-design, well integrated EV charging infrastructure in public spaces can help facilitate the adoption of EVs among local residents without access to home charging due to lack of off-street parking.

A further nine feasibility studies will also focus on the application of Wireless EV charging to commercial users, reducing business disruptions to charge the vehicles and therefore increasing the attractiveness of the EV proposition.

These projects will define feasibility and sustainable models to maximise effectiveness and impact of infrastructure deployment. The wide variety of technologies and business models analysed in these studies will help implement a charging infrastructure that is affordable, dependable, and fair for all road users, and making owning an EV an attractive proposition for all.

In a subsequent phase of the funding round, the best projects will be competing for funding for implementation of real-world demonstrators.

About SMS Ltd

SMS Ltd is always innovating, and always evolving in order to stay ahead of our industry and achieve our mission: to deliver the future of smart energy.

Find out more about our EV charging solutions here.