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Gridserve has unveiled new partnerships with retail, service and technology companies at the UK’s first electric forecourt, due to open near Braintree, Essex, this November.

The retail partners include WHSmith, Costa Coffee, the Post Office, Booths and Gourmade, alongside charging infrastructure partners ABB, Tesla and customer support from the AA.

“Our UK-wide network of over 100 customer-focused Electric Forecourts will eliminate range and charging anxiety by making it easier and cheaper to charge an electric vehicle than to fuel a petrol or diesel alternative,” said Gridserve founder and CEO, Toddington Harper.

“The UK’s first electric forecourt represents so much more than an electric equivalent of a modern petrol station; it will deliver a fully loaded customer experience, offering the best of British retail and customer service to cater for a full range of consumer and driver needs.”

The first electric forecourt near Braintree, Essex, will be the first of more than 100 sites to be built by Gridserve in the next five years, as part of a GBP1bn (US$1.3bn) programme.

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Electric forecourt has been financed by Gridserve together with Hitachi Capital UK and Innovate UK. Some 30 electric vehicles can be charged simultaneously with high power chargers, which can deliver up to 350kW of charging power, enabling drivers to add 200 miles of range in 20 minutes and much faster in the future as battery technologies within the cars mature.

Customer support will be provided by the AA via a dedicated team of electric vehicle experts. Drivers will be able to call a dedicated helpline from each supercharger and receive advice on any technical questions related to the charger or their vehicle.

Some 24 of the electric forecourt’s chargers – half of which can deliver up to 350kW of power – are provided by ABB and will be able to charge every electric vehicle on the market today. In addition, there are six Tesla superchargers specifically for Tesla vehicles, a format Gridserve plans to replicate or enlarge with the automaker at other electric forecourt sites in the future.

Gridserve has secured exclusivity at 100 sites along busy routes, near grid connections and close to populated areas or transport routes. Planning applications for two additional sites in Uckfield and Norwich East have been submitted.

Gridserve’s network of electric forecourts will be powered by zero carbon solar energy and battery storage projects, ensuring carbon emission targets can be met.

To achieve this, Gridserve is developing several large solar farms, supported by grid-scale batteries, as part of its ‘Sun-to-Wheel’ initiative to ensure 100% of the electricity used at its forecourts is renewable and, from the grid’s perspective, sustainable.

Gridserve recently acquired the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm – the Clayhill Solar Farm in Bedfordshire – to guarantee all the energy used at the Braintree electric forecourt comes from net zero-carbon solar power.

Gridserve also completed what it says is the UK’s most advanced solar farm; a 34.7MWp project at York with bifacial panels, single axis sun trackers and a 30MWh battery and is finishing a 25.7MWp project at Hull using similar technologies.