UK’s first ‘Electric Forecourt’ to open summer 2020
Global energy business Gridserve says it’s on track with plans to open a network of more than 100 Electric Forecourts in the UK, with the first to open this summer.
Announced a year ago, the UK-wide network will focus on bringing low-cost, ultra-fast charging, backed by renewable energy and a convenient, driver-focused charging experience.
Supported by a £4.9m grant from Innovate UK, the first site will go live in Braintree, Essex, this summer, as revealed in July 2019, and will be able to charge 24 electric vehicles at once using superchargers that can deliver up to 350kW of charging power, enabling people to charge vehicles within 20-30 minutes initially, with capabilities to ramp up as battery technologies mature.
Drivers will be able to benefit from an “outstanding” customer experience, with the two-storey facility offering a coffee shop, convenience supermarket and airport-style lounge with high-speed internet and meeting rooms.
The building will also double up as an education centre for electric vehicles and sustainable energy, which will help people to understand, test drive, and secure vehicles that are most suitable for them, with the ultimate aim of providing the confidence and support to help with government plans to phase out conventional petrol and diesels by 2035 latest.
Toddington Harper, CEO and founder of Gridserve, said: “We’ve designed our Electric Forecourts entirely around the needs of electric vehicle drivers, updating the petrol station model for a net-zero carbon future. Many more people want to buy electric vehicles but are worried about how to charge them. We will help solve that challenge and deliver the confidence needed to make the switch to electric transport.
“This will be the most advanced charging facility in the UK, and possibly the world. Drivers will be able to turn up and charge their vehicle at the fastest rate each vehicle can support, using 100% renewable energy, and with the best possible charging experience.”
The renewable energy will be supplied by several large solar farms, backed up by batteries, to supply clean and low-cost energy. Gridserve work to date has included the installation of a 34.7MWp solar farm at York with bifacial panels, sun trackers, and a 30MWh battery, and it’s completing a 25.7MWp project at Hull using similar technologies. It plans to develop Electric Forecourts at both sites powered by the solar produced on site.
Other locations in the network are still to be announced, with Gridserve currently in discussions with a number of local authorities around the UK; it says several more sites should be in the stage of construction with many more into planning by the end of this year.
Toddington Harper added: “We want to accelerate the electric vehicle revolution, support UK climate and clean air targets and help the grid meet the challenges of the low carbon transition. We are interested in new project opportunities and are partnering with investors, developers, local authorities, EV manufacturers, retailers, fleet operators and others who share our vision.”