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May 31, 2022

Pop-up mini solar car park launched in UK

The new mini solar pop-up can be deployed in 24 hours and is manufactured from recycled shipping containers.

By David Leggett

3ti, the team behind the UK’s largest solar car parks, has launched Papilio3, a pop-up mini solar car park. It says the pop-up is deployable in 24 hours and manufactured in the UK from recycled shipping containers.

Papilio3 is a modular unit providing up to 12 fast EV charge points, designed to expand EV infrastructure rapidly and provide a much improved, more reliable, safer destination and workplace charging experience for EV drivers.

Papilio3 combines solar photovoltaics and battery storage with existing local electricity infrastructure to optimise EV charging, bringing benefits of on-site energy to EV users, transitioning away from the traditional service station ‘refuel’ model.

3ti’s Papilio3 system also reduces draw on carbon-intensive peak grid electricity, further accelerating decarbonisation of the UK transport sector.

3ti claims Papilio3 tackles the UK’s need to expand electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure ahead of the government’s proposed ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles in 2030.

Papilio3 is available from 3ti on a rental contract and therefore requires no capital investment by customers.

“Overnight charging at home generally provides the most cost effective, carbon efficient, sustainable form of EV charging, but in the UK, around 50% of households will not be able to do this,” explains Tim Evans, 3ti founder & CEO, and leader of the teams responsible for the two largest SCPs in the UK, at Bentley Motors, Crewe and JP Morgan, Bournemouth. “If you live in a flat, a tower block, a rented house, in temporary accommodation or even in a £10m terraced town house in Chelsea, you’re probably not going to be able to charge an EV at home.  

“We believe that solar and battery boosted destination and workplace charging will become the best EV charging solution for drivers, irrespective of the type of home they live in,” he continues. “By utilising dwell times of several hours, when cars are parked at work or when the driver is visiting a shopping or leisure venue, for example, 3ti’s system ensures that EVs can achieve a level of charge that covers day to day driving needs and does it in the most low carbon way.”

Papilio3 is fitted with three modular canopies that support 36 solar panels and has battery storage capacity of up to 250 kWh. It has been developed by 3ti with Cambridge Design Partners, and has been designed for roll-out at workplaces and public destinations such as hospitals, hotels, meeting venues, sports or shopping centres, tourist attractions and town centres. Each unit offers sheltered, illuminated and secure parking, plus a convenient, available and reliable EV charging experience that supports a mixture of 7, 11 and 22 kilowatts.

“Widespread adoption of SCPs will turn underutilised spaces into renewable energy generating assets, and adding batteries and EV charge points will accelerate decarbonisation of the UK’s transport sector,” added Evans. “Allowing businesses to generate renewable energy right outside their front door not only gives them greater control of energy costs, it also makes a huge statement to customers and visitors that they are serious about tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions. By deploying fast charge points, up to 12 at a time, with Papilio3, we will provide much needed, cost effective charge point infrastructure and expand the UK’s network of public EV charge points.”

Papilio3 integrates three technologies that are more usually considered individually: solar photovoltaic electricity generation, Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) and EV charge points. Combining the three offers a range of benefits, including the ability to use grid energy, solar power and battery storage to optimise the speed and carbon intensity of EV charging. Onsite renewable energy generation from solar panels also reduces energy costs and gives businesses greater control over energy supply. 

“Papilio3 isn’t just about providing the UK with a broader range of EV charge points,” says Evans. “It also focuses on the capture and management of renewable energy, as a way of reducing the country’s draw on carbon-intensive energy for EV charging at peak times.”

Long lead times caused by complex planning approvals and investment requirements were traditional barriers to SCP installations. Papilio3 units are owned by 3ti, provided on a monthly rental basis and require limited approvals, overcoming these hurdles by enabling a 24-hour deployment and installation time, and requiring no capital investment by customers.

“One of the best things about owning an EV is that you don’t have to visit a petrol station to fill up,” says 3ti Chief Technical Officer, Mark Potter. “As EV drivers, we want to charge when we stop, not stop to charge. Rapid charging with 50-250 kW is fine for en-route charging during long journeys, but it’s not the right solution for regular use – it increases battery degradation and pushes up electricity prices for everyone, not just those who are charging. If you can’t charge at home, it’s best to charge when you arrive at where you’re going. Cars are parked 95% of their time – that’s when and where they should be charged. Destination and workplace charging is a more sustainable option, better value and more much more convenient. The three technologies integrated in Papilio3 enable the system to store and use the cleanest, lowest cost energy from its own solar panels and the grid supply. That means we can reduce the demand on peak hours grid energy without compromising EV charging speed.”

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