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New portal to make electric vehicle charging point installations easier

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An online tool has been launched to make it easy for homes and businesses to know whether they can connect domestic electric vehicle charge points, heat pumps, battery storage or solar PV to the local electricity network.

It was developed by electricity distributor UK Power Networks (UKPN) in collaboration with Octopus Electric Vehicles to replace the old process for domestic vehicle-to-grid projects which UKPN called “confusing and time-consuming”.

The distributor manages local power lines and substations for around eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East and the East of England.

It is forecasting that up to 700,000 electric heat pumps and 4.5m electric vehicles could be connected to its networks by 2030.

A think tank recently said that the UK needs to ramp up the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charge points by five times the current rate if the plan to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 is to be achieved.

The new UKPN service is designed to make life easier for specialist installers of low carbon technologies and help domestic customers ensure their electricity supply is ready to connect them.

The new portal will automatically refer customers if their electricity supply needs to be upgraded to manage the additional power. Installers will also be able to see the current status of multiple applications at the click of a button.

UKPN’s head of customer service, Ian Cameron, said: “Millions of electric vehicles will connect to our networks over the next decade, so it is critical that we find faster, smarter ways to facilitate the connection to the network and streamline the customer journey as customers go electric.

“We worked with experts in their fields to create a new customer journey that’s more responsive to their needs and will make a tangible difference to anyone looking to upgrade to low carbon technology in their home.”

Albena Ivanova, Powerloop project manager at Octopus Electric Vehicles, said: “Smart Connect is a huge step forward for the decentralisation and digitalisation of the grid. The launch of the portal will be a game changer for customers and installers alike, making the connection assessment and process fast and transparent.

“The simplified documentation required from customers along with the high level of visibility of the application progress will markedly improve the customer experience.”

Last week, National Grid agreed to purchase the UK’s largest electricity distribution business, Western Power Distribution, from US firm PPL Corporation for £7.8bn.

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