UPS uses smart grid system in London depot

In an attempt to cut electricity supply costs, UPS has installed a smart grid charging system at its Camden, London depot.

According to a statement, UPS said that the new technology “overcomes the challenge of simultaneously recharging an entire fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) without the need for the expensive upgrade to the power supply grid”.

UPS added: “The breakthrough signals the beginning of the end of a reliance upon traditional combustion engine powered vehicles by allowing UPS to increase the number of EVs operating from its central London site from the current limit of 65 to all 170 trucks based there.”

The company is using the Smart Electric Urban Logistics (SEUL) system with the UK Power Networks and the Cross River Partnership. Funding for the project comes from the UK Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

A major element of this system is the use of batteries in the depot to add charge to the system as required. While the ones installed are new, UPS say that these could come as seconds from van and car power systems. “Together with the smart-grid,” said UPS, “this will pave the way toward a UPS EV infrastructure strategy that can dynamically make use of a conventional power upgrade, a smart grid, onsite storage, and in many cases, local power generation including solar and other alternative sources.”

Peter Harris, director of sustainability, UPS Europe, commented: “UPS thinks this is a world first, right in the heart of a mega-city. We are using new technology to work around some big obstacles to electric vehicle deployment, heralding a new generation of sustainable urban delivery services both here in London and in other major cities around the world.

“Electric vehicles are an integral component within UPS’s alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet. Our collaboration with UK Power Networks and Cross River Partnership marks a major turning point in the cost effective deployment of electric vehicles which in turn will play a key role in ensuring the global trend toward urbanization is sustainable. We are applying new technology to make the charging process smarter and our delivery service cleaner.”

UPS added that, through initiatives such as this, it “believes the day is rapidly drawing closer when the acquisition costs to put an electric vehicle on the road, including those associated with getting power to the vehicle, will be lower than the equivalent costs of its diesel counterpart”.

Tanja Dalle-Muenchmeyer, programme manager electric freight at Cross River Partnership commented: “Our previous work on electric freight vehicles has shown that local grid infrastructure constraints are one of the main barriers to their large-scale uptake.

“We need to find smarter solutions to electric vehicle charging if we want to benefit from the significant air quality and environmental benefits these vehicles offer, and we believe this is such a solution.”