Using AI to break down the barriers to electrification for global fleet operators
Scientists agree that global warming is caused mainly by human activity. Transport has the highest reliance on fossil fuels of any sector and accounts for 37% of CO2 emissions. Therefore, in order to rapidly decarbonize transport and create a cleaner energy system, EVs will play an indispensable role.
Until recently, fleet electrification has primarily focused on consumer vehicles, but that’s quickly changing. Commercial fleets made up of medium or heavy-duty vehicles (MHDV) — such as the freight electric vehicles used by UPS — are already steadily adopting electric vehicle technology.
UPS, a global leader in logistics, is committed to growing its electric vehicle fleet at its central London depot as part of its sustainability strategy. However, charging large numbers of vehicles simultaneously puts significant demand on the depot’s electricity supply. Due to a capacity limitation on the local electricity network, integrating more EVs at UPS’s depot would require a significant network upgrade to meet the demand.
We are thrilled to have been supporting UPS’s transition to fleet electrification by leveraging our Gridshare technology to optimize intelligent charging and help UPS cut its fleets’ costs and carbon emissions while avoiding costly network reinforcements.
In 2020, our Gridshare software supported the EV Fleet-Centred Local Energy System (EFLES), a UK-based innovation project designed to facilitate the electrification of UPS’s fleet. We joined forces with other thought-leading partners in the UK, such as UPS, UK Power Network Services, and Cross River Partnership (CRP).
EFLES’s goal was to deliver an AI solution that could build on UPS’s existing electrical infrastructure to reduce operational costs and unlock additional revenue streams via grid support activity.
The team demonstrated a prototype of the EV Fleet-Centred Local Energy System (EFLES) to stakeholders at UPS’s central London package center. The project successfully showed how AI could accelerate electrification for global fleet operators by maximizing EVs’ cost and carbon savings.
Gridshare software played a critical part in delivering the project, using AI to predict and optimize the charging schedule for UPS’s vans when energy was at its cheapest and cleanest. It also enabled the site to participate in revenue-generating flexibility services that help balance the local grid.
Gridshare also performed dynamic electrical load shaving by limiting the charging power of the EV based on real-time metering data. The goal was to prevent the overloading of the building power supply. During the EFLES project, this feature has helped UPS reduce the costs of upgrading the sub-station and installing charging infrastructure.
Finally, working closely with UK Power Networks, we helped UPS explore future electrification scenarios through on-site energy modeling by incorporating Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as solar PV, ESS, and shared charging infrastructure. By leveraging Gridshare software, we run simulations to show that all these assets could be managed using one platform without needing multiple software packages.
The successful completion of this pilot will mean that UPS will be able to use a single platform to optimize their transport and depot energy demands at the site level.
The project's success could also incentivize other fleet operators to adopt the technology, customizing it to suit their site needs. This is particularly compelling considering that 87% of five million vehicles will be electric by 2040.
These achievements led us to be nominated for several awards, such as the EI Awards, and to win the Major Project of the Year at the National Sustainability Awards. We are grateful for the recognition and even more committed to creating reliable, clean energy for all.
UPS: United Parcel Service (UPS) is an American multinational shipping & receiving and supply chain management company founded in 1907. Originally known as the American Messenger Company specializing in telegraphs, UPS has grown to become a Fortune 500 company and one of the world's largest shipping couriers.
UK Power Network Services: UK Power Network Services are part of UK Power Networks. The latter is the UK’s biggest electricity distributor — a company licensed to distribute electricity in the UK — making sure the lights stay on for more than eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East, and the East of England.
Cross River Partnership: Cross River Partnership (CRP) is a non-profit and impartial partnership organization that has been delivering positive change for London’s residents, businesses, and visitors for 25 years. CRP’s vision is to address sustainability challenges collaboratively in London and beyond.
“UPS is deploying a fleet of electric final mile distribution vehicles as part of a global program to decarbonize its network and reduce urban air pollution and noise. A vital part of this work is the development of smart fleet charging technology to minimize the cost of recharging the vehicles and thereby increase the rate at which they can be deployed.”
Peter Harris, Vice President of International Sustainability, UPS
- Maximizing UPS’s fleet cost and carbon savings using Gridshare’s AI
- Avoiding costly network reinforcement for UPS
- Enabling the site to participate in revenue-generating flexibility services
- Accelerating electrification for global fleet operators by optimizing intelligent charging