An innovative project looking to optimise energy usage in EV charging is now close to completion in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough.
Our greener future is nearly here: sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned in the UK in 2030, with Net Zero emissions set as a target for 2050. But are local authorities in Wales ready for the transition?
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council (CBC) are taking an innovative step towards a zero emissions world. Their challenge, launched via the KTN Innovation Exchange platform and supported by the CCR Challenge Fund, aims to optimise energy use in EV (electric vehicles) charging at the council’s depots.
After opening the challenge for applications in 2021, the council evaluated proposals from 20 different companies, with the tender for the technological innovation eventually awarded to SWARCO. Local companies were also involved in works at the new charging site, supporting the region’s economy. The project is now close to being completed; the new charging system will be inaugurated soon. This will bring the council’s fleet of around 160 vehicles closer to its 2025 zero emissions goal (2030 for HGVs).
As Merthyr Transport Manager Ioan Vantu explains, a common obstacle to scaling up EV charging is not being able to generate enough power. The new EV chargers at the Merthyr depot will all be connected together through an intelligent digital system, ensuring they consume only as much electricity as is actually required: “That way, instead of 60 separate chargers always using 22 KW each, we could, for example, only use 800KW overall for 14 hours of active charging. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will decide where the power needs to be directed”.
Funding from the CCR Challenge Fund was essential to getting the project off the ground, as novel technologies can be a tough sell for local authorities over business as usual. Merthyr’s innovation, once seen in action, could conceivably be scaled up and adopted by other councils throughout the region.
“Innovation is not always easy, but it is necessary. We have to learn to work with new things most of us haven’t been taught about in school or university, because they didn’t yet exist”, says Mr Vantu.