‘Electric Forecourts’ and Hubs bringing ultra high-power charging to UK EV drivers
Image credit: Gridserve
The biggest motorway EV charging upgrade to date in the UK will soon be underway, with the announcement from Gridserve of 11 new ultra-high-power 'Electric Hubs', plus two new 'Electric Forecourts' including a world-first flagship charging site at Gatwick Airport.
Claimed to be the biggest upgrade of motorway electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in UK history, Gridserve has announced that more than 20 ‘Electric Hubs’ – each featuring between six and 12 350kW ultra-high-power chargers with contactless payment, capable of adding up to 100 miles of range in less than 10 minutes – will open at motorway service stations across the UK by Q2 2022, with the majority planned to be installed by the end of March. In the following phase, a further 50 Electric Hub sites will follow.
Two 'Electric Forecourts' situated adjacent to major transport routes and motorways, including a flagship site at Gatwick Airport – the first in the world to be hosted at an international airport – and another in Norwich, are also under construction and due to open in 2022.
Additional Electric Forecourt sites across the UK also now have planning permission, including Uckfield, Gateshead, Plymouth and Bromborough, with more than 30 additional sites under development as part of the company’s commitment to deliver over 100 of the charging facilities.
The investment programme forms part of Gridserve's plan to revolutionise EV charging across the UK, following the acquisition of Ecotricity’s 'Electric Highway' network in June of this year. Some of the forthcoming Electric Hubs are also located in areas that have been somewhat neglected in the EV transition to date, including Wales and Cornwall. The proposed broader provision is intended to help deliver Gridserve's vision of giving all drivers the confidence to go electric well ahead of the government's impending 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars.
Since the acquisition of Ecotricity, Gridserve said it has invested tens of millions of pounds in the network to develop its new Electric Hubs, to replace more than 300 existing motorway chargers, which it inherited from Ecotricity, and to install 130 additional AC chargers to cater for all types of EVs. The company states that over 75 per cent of the existing Ecotricity motorway charging network has already been upgraded, with chargers for the remaining 25 per cent ready and awaiting approval to be installed.
Toddington Harper, CEO of Gridserve, added: “Our mission is to deliver sustainable energy and move the needle on climate change and that is exactly what we are doing – delivering. Getting people into electric vehicles is a big part of our vision but to do that, charging has to be simple and free of anxiety, which is why we’ve designed our network entirely around the needs of drivers, listening to our customers’ needs and providing the best possible level of customer service to deliver the confidence people need to make the switch to electric transport today, eight years ahead of the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars.”
The new sites announced today include the two new Electric Forecourts in Gatwick and Norwich, which will follow Gridserve's blueprint of the world’s first Electric Forecourt, which opened in Braintree, Essex, in December 2020. That site was recently awarded 'Charging Destination of the Year'.
The flagship Gatwick Electric Forecourt site – developed in partnership with Gatwick Airport – will serve the tens of millions of passengers, commuters, staff, local residents and businesses that pass through the airport and its surrounding motorway network each year.
Located on the Ring Road South approach to Gatwick’s South Terminal, adjacent to the M23, it will enable 36 EVs to be charged simultaneously, with high-power chargers that can deliver up to 350kW of charging power, capable of adding 100 miles of range in less than 10 minutes. Multiple charging connectors will cater for all types of electric cars.
This site is scheduled to open in autumn 2022 and will host a café, comfortable waiting lounge with free superfast Wi-Fi, convenience supermarket, children’s play area and a dedicated educational space to increase awareness around electric vehicles (see artist's impressions, pictured above and below). As with all of Gridserve's chargers, the site will also be supplied with low-cost, 100 per cent renewable net-zero carbon energy generated by Gridserve's own solar farms.
Commenting on the Gatwick site, Harper said: “Gatwick isn’t just an airport, it’s an ecosystem of commuters, travellers, staff, taxi drivers, car rental companies, local residents and businesses, all culminating in a transport hub that hosts tens of millions of drivers every single year. The Gatwick Electric Forecourt will give these drivers and businesses the confidence to switch away from petrol and diesel cars, making electric journeys to and from one of the country’s most important transport hubs straightforward and sustainable.”
The Electric Forecourt also forms part of Gatwick Airport’s own commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions for its internal operations before 2040 and its broader aspirations to become the UK’s most sustainable airport, including through involvement in UK industry plans to reach net-zero aircraft emissions by 2050. The Airport also contributes to majority stakeholder VINCI Airports’ global environmental action plan – the first in the industry to be applied to a network of 45 airports in 12 countries – to develop carbon-free energy for passengers and users.
Jonathan Pollard, chief commercial officer, Gatwick Airport, said: “Gatwick is pleased to partner with Gridserve to deliver this fantastic and sustainable service. We are on a journey to create a low-carbon economy and Gatwick is keen to play an important role by providing new infrastructure that everyone can use, so that together we can start reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
“Our new high-powered charging facility will help meet the increasing need for electric-vehicle charging infrastructure at the airport, including the growing number of our passengers who own electric vehicles and need fast, convenient and effective charging facilities.
“The new charging infrastructure will also benefit people right across our community, including thousands of staff who live locally, businesses looking to introduce electric vehicle fleets – even those operating busses and trucks – and also local residents who may be considering buying an electric-powered car but were undecided due to the lack of charging facilities.”
The Norwich Electric Forecourt, already nearing the end of its construction and scheduled to open in April 2022, will mirror the set up at Gatwick and provide unprecedented access to East Anglia for EV drivers.
Gridserve is also developing several large-scale hybrid solar and battery farms to supply renewable solar energy as part of a 'sun-to-wheel' ecosystem. Every kW of energy taken out of the grid by a Gridserve EV charger is netted off against a kW of zero-carbon solar energy put back into the grid by a Gridserve solar farm, creating a net-zero carbon, low-cost transport system. This has in turn enabled Gridserve to offer highly competitive rates for high-powered charging. The company also leases EVs, with 100 trees planted for every EV leased to further offset embodied emissions.
A map of all Gridserve EV charging sites is available online.
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