The UK’s first all-electric car charging forecourt has opened today in Essex with capacity for up to 36 cars at a time – all powered by solar. The forecourt is just outside Braintree, Essex and comes from Gridserve, a company which specialises in solutions for electric vehicles and alternative energy.
The project has been on the go since March and officially opened this morning.
In terms of the energy source, a common misconception about electric cars is that all the energy comes from fossil fuels anyway but Gridserve have ensured the all the energy that is used for charging comes from renewable sources. At the charging station, the overhead canopies all have solar panels, as does the main building and surrounding edges of the car park.
Any additional load needed will come from UK’s first subsidy-free solar farms at Clayhill in Bedfordshire as well as a network of solar farms, also operated by Gridserve.
The forecourt has 36 bays for electric cars in total, with 6 of them being Tesla Superchargers in the corner. The other 30 are in the main area, underneath the canopy. Tesla chargers offer up to 250kW and the main forecourt overs up to 350kW for super fast charging, which Gridserve says is enough to add 200 miles of driving range in 20 minutes to an EV.
For Tesla owners, there is a dedicated outdoor WiFi network for cars to download software updates if needed.
Inside the main building as a plush lounge, as well as shops such as WHSmith, Booths supermarket, Costa Coffee, Post Office as well as meeting areas, children’s play area and exercise bikes that generate electricity. There is also a place to buy or rent an electric car.
“At WHSmith, we have been serving customers on their journeys for over 200 years and we understand how important convenience is to people on the go. We’re therefore delighted to be partnering with GRIDSERVE’s Electric Forecourt to deliver a new first-class customer experience, with fantastic service and a tailored retail offer including WHSmith, Post Office, Costa Coffee and Booths. It’s a great concept and we look forward to playing our part over the next hundred years with the future of electric cars.”
Toby Keir – Managing Director at WHSmith
Each charging bay just takes contactless card or Apple Pay, removing the complexity of the app based networks, and each with two types of chargers, CHAdeMO and CCS. Price per kW is 24p which is currently the lowest rate for high power EV charging. A typical ‘fill up’ will be around £10.
“Today’s announcement represents a major milestone in achieving GRIDSERVE’s purpose to deliver sustainable energy and move the needle on climate change. 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. 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 – a full decade ahead of the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars. Together with our charging-included electric vehicle leasing business, that we are also launching today in partnership with Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC, people now have the full confidence to make the transition to an electric vehicle, knowing that charging is in-hand, and it’s actually less expensive to use an electric car than a petrol or diesel alternative.”
Toddington Harper – Founder and CEO of GRIDSERVE
A few days ago, Robert Llewellyn from Fully Charged had a look at the new station in the video below.
A&T Tech’s Take
This new charging station is a good step in the direction to make electric vehicles more popular, the government announced last month that by 2030 all new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from sale and that by 2035, all hybrids will follow suit. Until now, there have been charging stations for electric cars with more than a couple bays, but not many have amenities such as toilets. This is the first of 100 electric forecourts that Gridserve is planning to build in the next five years and if anything can be done to convince people this is the future, faster charging and more of these kind of hubs is the right way to go about it.