Gas network Wales & West Utilities has been awarded funding from Ofgem’s £450 million Strategic Innovation Fund for a project which will support the roll out of Electric Vehicle (EV) and other zero-emission transport.

The £150,000 funding will allow Wales & West Utilities to develop its HyPark project, which includes a compact, intelligently controlled, fuel-cell to charge electric vehicles via connection to the gas grid. HyPark will use smart technology to identify the best way to charge the vehicle, while keeping the impact on the electricity grid to a minimum. A gas grid connection means that in the future, the fuel cell could also be converted to run on hydrogen, enabling the fuelling of hydrogen vehicles.

With the UK targeting the decarbonisation of cars and vans by 2030, HyPark will explore how both the gas and electricity networks can support the deployment of multiple rapid EV charging points – particularly in urban locations.

Research suggests another 100,000 rapid charging points are needed across the UK, this project will help enhance EV market development, helping the UK get closer to its net zero targets.

Projects awarded funding through Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund partnership with Innovate UK address some of the biggest challenges that energy networks face in the journey to net zero. The initial call for proposals focused on heat, zero emission transport, data and digitalisation and whole system integration.

Now that Wales & West Utilities has been awarded funding it has until the end of April to carry out a ‘discovery’ phase on the proposal to further explore its potential.

Matt Hindle, Head of Net Zero and Sustainability at Wales & West Utilities said:
At Wales & West Utilities we’re committed to playing our part in decarbonising heat, power and transport. HyPark aims to support the rapid roll out of electric and other zero carbon vehicles by overcoming local network capacity constraints. The compact fuel cell could allow the roll out of rapid charging points at communal locations, and its gas grid connection means that in the future, it could enable the fuelling of hydrogen vehicles.

We are delighted to receive this funding which will now allow us to take the project to the next step, assessing the suitability of potential charging locations, and discovering which technology configuration is the most suitable to support the at-scale roll out of net zero transport across the UK.

Maximising the roll out of electric and other zero carbon vehicles is essential if we are to help people transition to green transport, and the UK to reach Net Zero.

Wales & West Utilities will now spend two months developing plans for delivering consumer and environmental benefits, before the next funding phase is open for applications.

The project is supported by electricity networks Western Power Distribution, SSE and SP Energy Networks, smart tech company PassivUK and EV charging specialists Eassee

The Strategic Innovation Fund has awarded forty innovation projects funding. After this initial two month phase those projects judged to have the greatest potential will be awarded up to £500,000 to take their ideas forward. After this there will be a further selection process, with successful projects receiving more funding and able to carry out large-scale demonstrations of their technologies.

The Strategic Innovation Fund is a five-year programme with up to £450m available to promote energy network innovation. Ofgem and Innovate UK are working to identify further innovation challenges for round two of the SIF, working closely with all energy networks, network users and consumers, and will issue another call for proposals in the autumn of 2022.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we'll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We'll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.