AS the take up of electric vehicles starts to ramp up, Gridserve said it plans a nationwide network of over 100 Electric Forecourts.
The first is currently under construction and will open this summer, offering ultra-fast, low-cost charging – along with a “customer experience”.
The Electric Forecourt, near Braintree, Essex, can charge 24 electric vehicles at once with superchargers delivering up to 350kW of charging power allowing a 20-30 minute charge-up with faster times in the future as battery technologies mature.
The network will be powered by solar energy and battery storage projects to ensure carbon emission targets can be met, whilst also keeping prices low.
While vehicles are on charge, drivers will be able to use facilities including a coffee shop, supermarket or make use of an airport-style lounge with high-speed internet and meeting rooms.
The facility will also function 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.
As part of a £1bn programme, Gridserve is developing more than 100 Electric Forecourt sites on busy routes and near powerful grid connections close to towns, cities and major transport hubs.
The company aims to have the UK-wide network operational within five years and is currently in discussions with a number of local authorities with a view to having more sites planned by the end of this year
Gridserve Chief Executive Toddington Harper 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% renenewable energy, and with the best possible charging experience.”
Construction on the first Electric Forecourt on a 2.5 acre site adjacent to Great Notley, just off the A131, is supported by a £4.86 million grant from Innovate UK, one of the largest awarded last year. The site has links to Stansted Airport, Chelmsford, Colchester and the M11.
Gridserve is also developing several large solar farms, supported by batteries, to supply energy to its Electric Forecourts to ensure that 100% of the electricity is clean and low cost.
The company recently completed the UK’s most advanced solar farm, a 34.7MWp project at York with bifacial panels, sun trackers, and a 30MWh battery (https://youtu.be/jtkNKJBpVAg), and is 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.
Harper said: “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.”