The electric-only forecourt is the first of more than 100 such charging stations to open across the UK over the next five years
The UK’s first electric-only forecourt has opened this week near Braintree, Essex, representing a breakthrough for the mass expansion of the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Gridserve, the clean energy firm behind the project, said it plans to open more than 100 of the charging stations across the UK over the next five years in a £1bn programme.
Its chargers use net zero-carbon energy by utilising solar power sourced from one of the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farms at Clayhill in Bedfordshire. The forecourt also has a battery that is capable of storing enough energy to drive 24,000 miles, and overhead solar canopies.
Toddington Harper, founder and chief executive of Gridserve, said the forecourt is a major milestone in the company’s goal to “move the needle on climate change”.
The British public needs to have confidence that the UK will have the charging infrastructure required for mass electric vehicle adoption well ahead of the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars, Harper said.
“It’s our collective responsibility to prevent greenhouse gas emissions rising further, and electric vehicles powered by clean energy represent a large part of the solution,” he said.
“However, charging has to be simple and free of anxiety, which is why we’ve designed our electric forecourts entirely around the needs of drivers, updating the traditional petrol station model for a net-zero carbon world and delivering the confidence people need to make the switch to electric transport today.”
The development has been welcomed by the government, which last month brought forward the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to 2030 as part of a “green industrial revolution”.
James Cleverly, minister of state and MP for Braintree, said: “Our government is committed to increasing the take-up of electric vehicles, to clean our air and enable us to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as quickly as possible, which is why we have just brought forward the ban on new petrol or diesel to 2030.”
He said the forecourt is “the most advanced charging facility in the world”.
The Braintree Electric Forecourt, near Great Notley, just off the A131, allows 36 electric vehicles to be charged simultaneously, with high power chargers that can deliver up to 350 kW of charging power, enabling people to add 200 miles of range in 20 minutes.
Drivers will initially pay just 24p per kWh of energy, which is currently the lowest ultra-high power charging rates on the market today – meaning a typical charge from 20 per cent to 80 per cent costs under £10 for an average-size electric vehicle on the market today.
While vehicles charge, drivers can make use of “state-of-the-art” facilities, which include a waiting lounge, free super-fast wifi, “high-end” washrooms, a children’s area, a wellbeing area with exercise bikes that generate electricity, and business meeting room pods. There is also a retail space, which includes branches of WHSmith Travel and Costa Coffee, and a post office.
Gridserve also wants to urge drivers to switch to electric vehicles, and so the forecourt is also designed to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible, said the company. The upper floor of the forecourt’s building showcases the latest electric vehicles while digitals screens help people learn about and source electric vehicles.
With more than 200 types of electric vehicles now available, the company is also hiring electric vehicle enthusiasts to help educate people about electric vehicles, and arrange test drives.
A company statement read: “The ultimate aim [is to] provide people with the confidence and support to make the transition to an all-electric future.”
36electric vehicles can be charged simultaneously
350 kWof charging power can be delivered per vehicle
24 pper kWh of energy
£ 10is the typical charge