Electric van project brings cleaner way to provide back-up electricity in power cuts
Electric vans are being trialled as a means of providing power to customers during power cuts and planned works, replacing noisy and polluting diesel generators.
Dubbed ‘Silent Power’, the two-year trial is being run by Northern Powergrid along with Hyperdrive Innovation and Offgrid Energy, and could signal a huge clean-energy shift in the temporary power industry.
The Nissan e-NV200 vans are the result of a collaboration between Northern Powergrid and Hyperdrive, a designer and manufacturer of lithium-ion battery systems, and Offgrid Energy, a specialist developer of hybrid generator systems, and feature a prototype 40kVA battery inverter generator unit that could power up to three homes or a small community centre for 24 hours – even longer if those homes have domestic solar generation. The first vehicle will be on the streets of Northern Powergrid’s operating area this month, in particular targeting vulnerable customers.
Northern Powergrid currently deploys more than 2,500 diesel generators annually to provide temporary power restoration during planned and unplanned power cuts each year, bringing air and sound pollution issues that the vans would eliminate.
The electricity from the Silent Power batteries also aims to be more reliable than diesel generators, which can trip out. In addition, diesel generators cannot be deployed to homes that export power while some areas also have access issues.
“Traditional diesel generators have been great at restoring power to keep vulnerable customers safer and more comfortable during a power cut. However, the noise and air pollution means there are limits to where they can be deployed,” explained Ross McFarlane, innovation project manager for Northern Powergrid. “Alongside the direct customer benefit, we are very excited by the wider positive environmental impact of this trial. Many industries need temporary power supplies, if this can be shared across other sectors, we have another way to bring more renewable sources into our energy mix.”
During the two-year trial, Northern Powergrid and its partners will assess the usability, benefits and economic viability of the battery inverter generator units. The findings will be shared with other electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) across the UK, as they continue the transition to become increasingly active Distribution System Operators (DSO).