EV-olving Demand: The SAPC Response to Changing Consumption

March 16, 2021

The way people use energy in their homes and businesses is changing. Learn how SAPC is being introduced to meet this challenge.

EV charging

The way we consume energy, and the things we do that consume energy, have changed drastically in recent years.

From smart buildings to electric vehicles, electricity grids are under greater pressure to respond to consumers’ needs. Registrations for pure-EVs increased by a whopping 127% in the UK between September 2019 and September 2020, with this upward trajectory set to continue in the years ahead.

The challenge faced by distribution network operators (or DNOs), utility providers, smart meter manufacturers and consumers is broadly similar: how can this additional consumption be managed safely without risking grid integrity? 

Introducing Standalone Auxiliary Proportional Controllers (SAPC for short), the latest innovation to be implemented as part of smart metering in the UK by the Data Communications Company. These controllers enable network operators, energy suppliers and consumers to manage electricity loads to multiple high power demand devices such as EVs, thus balancing the needs of the grid infrastructure with those of the consumer. Having a SAPC device as part of a home’s smart meter system will soon become a mandatory requirement in the UK. This will help ensure the grid can carefully control and balance load demand.

While the broader benefits felt by DNOs, utilities providers, smart meter manufacturers and users themselves may be similar, each will feel the impact of SAPC in slightly different ways. How can each navigate the greater control and autonomy SAPC grants users?

Distribution network operators

DNOs are responsible for the volumes of energy distributed across the network, and so the increased demand of modern energy usage – as well as the control that SAPC brings - will have an impact on network capacity. Activities like charging EVs require copious amounts of energy, and so DNOs will need to be prepared to manage this in a way that minimises the chance of loss of supply. 

DNOs will face some key considerations with the forthcoming introduction of SAPC, including: 

  • Is the infrastructure within the DNO’s network suitable to manage the increased electricity loads that EV charging will demand? 
  • How will SAPC help balance electricity loads across the network? 
  • Can excess energy be returned to the grid in an efficient manner? 

As both utility providers and consumers become more energy-conscious, the ability of DNOs to manage energy flow will become more integral to everyday operations. It will be incumbent on the DNOs and energy suppliers to ensure sufficient energy supply across the network. 

Smart meter manufacturers

Smart meter manufacturers will need to ensure they are SAPC-ready by having standalone or fully integrated proportional controllers, allowing management of energy flows to high-draw devices such as EVs and Home energy storage devices. Critical has already created the software that will allow the control required.

It may also be the case that In Home Displays (IHDs) are also required to show rates of energy flow to the home and to the devices that are connected via a Proportional Controller. This will help homeowners understand and manage energy consumption.

Utility providers

Utility providers will need to handle the increasing electricity load demand, as with smart meter manufacturers, but they will also need to find ways to best ‘sell’ this to their customers. They will need to ensure they can extract data about their customers’ consumption, with which they can create attractive tariffs which price energy based on each customer’s actual, real-time usage. 

As more and more digitally savvy competitors emerge, and customers become more accustomed to pricing linked to real-time energy usage, customers will demand more control over their energy consumption; offering deals based on real-time data will allow established providers to remain relevant. 

SAPC: a requirement for the future 

SAPCs offer a more energy-efficient future for DNOs, smart meter manufacturers, utilities providers and users themselves. But adding them to smart meters, which is due to become mandatory in the UK within the next two years, will bring significant infrastructure control demands. That’s why it is key for manufacturers, network operators and energy suppliers to prepare for the upcoming SAPC requirement. 

Discover what SAPC will mean for your meters and networks, and how Critical Software can help you adapt to the changes, by booking a 20-minute conversation with one of our SAPC experts below.