About us

We work with you to solve your energy challenges through innovative solutions, delivering resilience, cost efficiency and sustainability

About us overview
UK Power Networks Services builds renewables portfolio
UK Power Networks Services builds renewables portfolio

We are expanding our portfolio of key infrastructure assets with the acquisition of UU Solar, from SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust LLP (SEEIT).

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Sustainability

Our SCADA technology accelerates the transition to a decarbonised future
Our SCADA technology accelerates the transition to a decarbonised future

With continued investment in an innovative facility that allows us to control, manage and monitor substations and other electrical infrastructure on behalf of our clients, we are helping the industry to accelerate its transition towards a decarbonised future.

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Industries

Our clients include some of the highest profile public and private sector organisations with critical infrastructure in complex environments.

Our industries
Supporting Transport for London in the delivery of 54 new trains for Docklands Light Railway
Supporting Transport for London in the delivery of 54 new trains for Docklands Light Railway

UK Power Networks Services continues to support Transport for London in its strategic ambitions to add 54 new trains to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) by 2024.

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Revolutionising road freight: the future of HGV electrification

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We work with logistics companies and fleet operators to optimise their existing energy infrastructure and integrate electric vehicle technology

Revolutionising road freight: the future of HGV electrification

The UK transport sector is a crucial area for decarbonisation if the UK is to reach Net Zero by 2050, as it accounted for 29% of the UKs total emissions in 20231 with petrol and diesel road vehicles the main source of these emissions. Furthermore, despite only making up 6% of the road vehicle miles travelled in the UK in 2021, Heavy Good Vehicles (HGV) accounted for 21% of road transport emissions due to their large weight and substantial average mileage when compared to other road vehicles. Additionally, their large weight requires HGVs to burn more fuel to move, therefore leading to higher emissions. The UK government has taken a policy decision to ban the sale of all new non-zero emission HGVs weighing up to 26 tonnes from 2035 with larger HGVs being phased out from 2040. It is therefore essential for fleets in the UK to begin planning for their transition to zero-emission vehicles.

 

Benefits

Firstly, it is important to have an overview of the benefits electric HGVs have over their diesel counterparts:

  • They can operate with zero tailpipe emissions, whilst diesel HGVs emit vast amounts of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and other greenhouse gases.
  • When considering the total cost of ownership, which includes purchase price, fuel costs, insurance, tax and maintenance costs, analysis shows that electric HGVs are more cost effective over the lifetime of the vehicle due to lower running costs.
  • Electricity is generally cheaper than diesel, leading to lower fuel costs.
  • They offer operational benefits such as reduced downtime as they require less maintenance and better performance.
  • Batteries can provide high torque instantaneously, allowing for better acceleration and driving on hills much easier.
  • They reduce noise pollution as they are much quieter than diesel vehicles.

 

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Overcoming Challenges

Electrification of HGV fleets would be a significant step towards the UK’s Net Zero targets and national sustainability goals. Despite the benefits, HGV electrification also presents challenges that need to be addressed, below we explore these challenges and present possible solutions:

 

Challenge: Long haul journeys

The UK is a small island with population density concentrated in a few areas, meaning that HGVs generally do relatively short journeys within the country. The average length of haul is a key metric that is utilised in the transport and logistics industry to understand and optimise their operations. It is found by dividing the total distance that all shipments had covered by the number of shipments made over a specific period. The average length of haul for HGVs in the UK was 67 miles in 20222 and many HGV manufacturers have electric models which far exceed this average. However, issues can arise for electric HGVs, in which the range may not be able to cover the required distance for long haul journeys when taking into account payload, weather conditions, or simply if the distance is longer than the range of the vehicle.

Solution: Megawatt Charging System (MCS)

The Megawatt Charging System is a new international standard in EV charging that has been in development for some time and is expected to be commercially available in 2024. This new innovative charging system can deliver up to 3.75 MW of power, significantly reducing the amount of time HGVs will take to charge and allowing for longer, uninterrupted journeys. Such systems will be installed at motorway services and truck stops, in which HGV drivers will be able to take advantage of these extremely high-powered chargers, reducing dwell times by 90% compared to if they were to use 400 kW chargers. They can also be installed at warehouses and logistic centres, allowing for very fast top-up charging. However, it is important to note that fleet operators will have to acquire HGVs that can take this level of charging power.

 

Challenge: Lack of public infrastructure

Overnight depot charging can ensure that electric HGVs are fully charged for their next day’s operations. Destination charging is where HGVs arrive at the end of a journey, eg reaching a warehouse or logistics centre, and have ample time to charge their batteries during loading and unloading. National Grid expects that 70-90% of charging for HGVs can take place in depots or at destinations. However, if the journey is a particularly long distance, then HGVs would require top-up charging in a public charging station along the way. Due to their large battery capacities and weight, HGVs typically require ultra-rapid chargers at these public stations, defined as 150kW or above. However, only 6% of public EV chargers are of this rating or above, which is clearly an issue for fleet operators as they cannot complete long journeys without having to wait long periods of time to charge with lower-powered chargers. In addition, due to the size of HGVs, dedicated spaces and charge points are needed to accommodate them. However, with less than 3% of all new HGV registrations in Q1 2023 being electric, these dedicated spaces are yet to be seen nationally.

Solution: Investing in shared infrastructure

Another way for fleets to install charging infrastructure for their HGVs is through joint ventures with other businesses, pooling their resources together to invest in charge points. Investing in charging infrastructure, particularly the high-powered chargers that HGVs would require, can be very expensive and underutilisation is a big financial risk. However, through joint ventures, businesses can reduce their investment and risk and share the operation and maintenance costs, whilst ensuring that charge point utilisation is maximised.

 

Challenge: Site and grid constraints

The electrical capacity required to charge a fleet of electric HGVs will vary depending on the size of fleet and time required to charge; however, peak depend for charging will likely be significantly higher than the existing site capacity because chargers with ratings of 150 kW to 300 kW will need to be installed to meet the demands of the vehicles. This will require major upgrades to the existing on-site electrical infrastructure and upgrade of the existing grid connection. Obtaining this large site capacity can be difficult, as costs for upgrading the network infrastructure can be very expensive and can involve complicated projects that can take months to complete. In addition, DNOs may not be able to offer a connection for a number of years.

Solution: Behind-the-meter solutions for depots

Behind-the-meter solutions such as integrating renewable energy generation and use of smart charging systems can be utilised at depots to reduce the peak demand and therefore the required site capacity, they need to enable their fleet to be fully charged. Not only does this reduce the level of infrastructure upgrades that may be required and therefore costs, but it also minimises the impact on the grid as it offers the opportunity to reduce the peak demand of the site.

 

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How we can help

We have developed a methodology that takes a holistic approach in developing an effective EV transition strategy for HGVs, incorporating technical, economic and environmental considerations to ensure a sustainable shift to EVs that is resilient to future changes.

  • Fleet Analysis: Firstly, we conduct a comprehensive analysis of telematics data and operational details of the HGV fleet, such as mileage and destination locations, which enables us to identify suitable EV equivalents to complete daily operations. We then calculate, based on mileage, operational requirements and battery capacity, what the daily charging requirements will be for each vehicle. Additionally, we review telematics data to assess the routes that the HGVs use for their deliveries to underpin any suitable locations for enroute charging that could be utilised if required.
  • Site Demand Assessment: For overnight charging at depots, we assess the existing power demand, considering any expansion plans and future projects that the business may be planning. This assessment provides us with a baseline requirement for the site, before we consider the EV charging demand, to determine the extent to which the existing electrical infrastructure can support the additional load from EV charging, minimising the risk of power shortages or overloads. We also assess the potential of installing satellite charging stations if sites can be utilised as a hub for enroute charging.
  • Fleet Charging Profile: All this information is then fed into our bespoke in-house EV charging model to develop a fleet charging profile. This allows us to determine the specification and number of charge points that the site will require for a fully charged fleet. The model also highlights current available power capacity and potential future constraints.
  • Site Survey: From this, we carry out site surveys to identify opportunities to connect to existing infrastructure and potential challenges in connecting new loads. We inspect the site’s electrical intake and associated infrastructure and identify potential civil engineering implications for installing the charging infrastructure.
  • Infrastructure Assessment: We are then able to develop various infrastructure options for the site, including grid upgrades, smart-charging, load management, energy storage and renewable energy integration, to optimise and reduce the required grid connection capacity for the site. We assess different charging technologies such as MCS and ultra-fast charging that can support enroute charging if required. We consider adjustments to fleet location arrangements and site-specific constraints such as space and operational constraints where necessary.
  • Techno-economic Appraisal: We then determine the optimal solution, considering technical factors and whole life cost, which considers both economic and emission variables, ensuring the design is futureproof. Additionally, we carry out assessments to determine whether a shared infrastructure model with other businesses would be feasible to reduce costs and risk of underutilisation of charge points.
  • EV Road Map: We will finally develop an EV Road Map where we provide a planned phasing in electrifying your HGV fleet. This incorporates a schedule for procuring EVs and installation schedules for charge points and recommended behind-the-meter technologies. We also provide high-level detail of the necessary change management policies that the business must consider when transitioning to EVs.

 

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Overall, UK Power Networks Services are uniquely placed to empower businesses in their transition towards electrifying their HGV fleet, carefully tailoring solutions to their unique operational profile. We focus our detailed approach on optimising existing assets, integrating renewable energy generation and EV charging infrastructure and delivering commercial benefits. We provide an end-to-end integrated solution, from initial feasibility studies through to design, build, and smart operation and ongoing maintenance, which leads to a comprehensive strategy to electrify HGV fleets which is efficient and effective.

 

1. Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, 2024, 2023 UK greenhouse gas emissions, provisional figures (publishing.service.gov.uk)

2. Department for Transport, 2024, Domestic road freight activity (RFS01) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

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