UK sustainable energy company Gridserve is to invest £1 billion into building a UK network of futuristic petrol station-style charging stations for electric vehicles. The initial network, consisting of over 100 solar charging forecourts is to be UK-wide and built over the next 5 years. Work is scheduled to begin later this year on the first 2 sites, located in Hull and York. 80 sites have already been secured beside busy traffic arteries across the country.
The UK government has the stated ambition to have banned the sale of all new diesel and petrol vehicles by the 2040. Despite some calls that is not a realistic target, with over 20 years to go, it surely has to be achievable. But for the full transition towards electric vehicles to be a success in the UK, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, a prerequisite is an extensive network of fast charging points.
The Gridserve network, each forecourt of which is planned to host 24 charging bays for cars and another area for larger vehicles, will run on solar power. The panels that will generate the electricity are to be placed along roofs of the forecourts and next to them in compact solar farms. The forecourts will resemble futuristic petrol stations with shops, toilets and ‘airport style’ cafe lounges for drivers and their passengers to wait while their vehicles charge.
The latest technology in the world of batteries and charging should mean most vehicles receiving a full charge in less than 30 minutes and the smallest in less than 10. Charging ‘slots’ will be pre-bookable through an app. As charging tech develops Gridserve is confident that times can be brought down to as low as ten minutes for most vehicles.
The sleek aesthetic of the forecourts’ design is the work of design and engineering company Arup. Ricky Sandhu, the company’s lead designer, commented:
“It is vitally important that we transition quickly to sustainable, clean new modes of transportation and energy production.”
Data company Emu Analytics estimated that the UK had a total of 16,500 charging points for electric vehicles. It estimated that demand by 2020 would mean the need for 100,000 to be in place to provide an adequate infrastructure. Most of these points are also not the kind of ‘rapid chargers’ that can charge an average EV battery to 85% in around half an hour. Across the whole country there were only around 1500 rapid charging stations.
With the range of a fully charged EV typically somewhere between 100 and 200 miles, a rapid build-up of charging infrastructure is required to stimulate adoption of the vehicles.
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