While the UK is known for its cooler climate and rain, energy technology start-up Lightstate, founded in 2022 and headquartered in London, says it is the perfect place to harness solar power for EV charging.

Dedicated to creating the next generation of green infrastructure for clean mobility, it is on a mission to design and scale the world’s most customer-centric energy hubs while also addressing the challenges of vehicle electrification in the UK.

Its ‘Lightstations’ (rapid EV charging hubs) will utilise solar panels on its rooftops. Contrary to popular belief, these work optimally in temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). Currently there are three initial sites confirmed for 2024, with more to follow.

To learn more about the firm’s plans for the future, we interviewed Lightstate CEO Alex Hearn who brings 23 years of experience in entrepreneurship for a carbon and combustion-free future.

Alex Hearn

Dani Cole (DC): Tell us a bit about yourself and how you conceived the idea of Lightstate – when was that ‘lightbulb’ moment?

Alex Hearn (AH): I’ve always tried to develop ideas that solve big problems – especially in and around the environment. When I stumbled across the solar punk movement, I began to wonder why so many projects or solutions in the world of electrification don’t create a sense of wonder or joy.

I firmly believe that we need to entice people to step into the new green world by making it better than the old, dispelling negativity around the challenges presented by renewable technology and looking at this transition as an opportunity for positive change.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

It was after considering this for a while that I started to explore the technology in electric vehicle (EV) charging, energy hubs and solar power to see if there was a different complementary approach, one that was more aspirational and an experience in itself. One that delivered on the vision of the future – but also firmly rooted in what was achievable and deliverable.

I firmly believe that we need to entice people to step into the new green world by making it better than the old.

Alex Hearn

DC: Solar powered EV charging sounds like a gamble in the UK – talk us through the tech: how will it work?

AH: It’s less of a gamble and more of a calculated risk! The UK is actually quite a good environment for solar due to the relatively stable temperatures – not too hot, not too cold.

We have spent a lot of time developing the arrangement of the solar panels in our charging hubs, determining the optimum configuration and specification in order to maximise the sunlight achievable in the UK.

Our intelligent energy management systems are designed to optimise the use and storage of energy based on the prevailing conditions, considering renewable energy intermittency, grid constraint, solar availability and customer demand among other factors.

Solar is just one part, albeit an important part, of the overall energy mix on our sites and the UK’s net-zero carbon strategy.

DC: For people anxious about how the Lightstations might fare compared to other chargers in regards to time and efficiency, what reassurances do you have for them?

AH: Our vision is to create energy hubs that fulfil the promise of e-mobility. It’s in our DNA therefore to ensure customers get the best experience whether that be in the use of our ultra-rapid charging points themselves or the overall interaction with Lightstate – which is designed to be seamless and engaging throughout.

Our Lightstations are not just petrol stations with a plug – these are designed to be havens for travellers where they can sample locally sourced goods and relax in an environment that is in complete contrast to the traditional refuelling experience.

It’s important that drivers feel that the experience is as good as or better than their use of an internal combustion engine car.

Alex Hearn

DC: Solar EV charging seems like a novel idea to many unfamiliar it – how to you see this form of EV charging developing the future?

What we are seeing is a need to embrace multiple technologies to deliver real-world solutions on the journey to net zero. We like to think of solar as an important asset in our toolbox but not the only one.

We envisage a world where multiple technologies come together to create the best-fit solution based on the application and need. In our world, the world of energy hubs and EVs, we see the combination of incredible design, great technology bases, solar, grid and battery assets working together to provide the flexibility to enable the rollout of EV charging to otherwise unsuitable locations.

This really helps us get to the infrastructure gaps that would otherwise be unserviceable – this is an essential part of encouraging adoption of EV’s – by making sure everyone has access to great quality, high-speed charging in an environment that is engaging, safe and relaxing.

We like to think of solar as an important asset in our toolbox but not the only one.

Alex Hearn

DC: Can you share details on your growth plans? How many more sites are you planning following the initial three for 2024?

AH: Whilst we are only just breaking cover as a business, we have been busy. We have three sites slated for launch within Q1 next year, and plan to roll out five per year after that. Our ambition is to have 35 to 40 sites in our network across the UK.

DC: AI and machine learning are now key elements in the EV industry – can you talk us through how important this tech is for Lightstate?

AH: Technology underpins everything we do. We are integrating the very latest technological advances in machine learning (ML) to evolve our ability to serve customers and manage energy systems on-site and across our network.

Our Co-Founder and CTO, Dr. Rob McInerney is a PhD in ML and his approach enables us to accelerate decision-making and development across the business. We can’t talk too much about the specifics as it remains proprietary but our ability to service customers at the right location and holistically manage our energy mix are all influenced by these new technologies.

DC: In ten years’ time, how much share of the world’s major markets do you expect ICEs to hold?

AH: The speed of change is rapid in some countries and slower in others. It starts with the availability of clean renewable energy through the grid or local power sources, alongside the affordability of mass EVs and their attraction to consumers.

It’s important that drivers feel that the experience is as good as or better than their use of an internal combustion engine car. We are attempting to solve the last of these challenges.