Gridserve said on Tuesday the first of its planned nationwide network of over 100 electric vehicle forecourts is now under construction and will open this summer, offering ultra-fast, low-cost charging, "with an outstanding customer experience".
The Electric Forecourt near Braintree, Essex (video), will be able to charge 24 EVs at once with superchargers that can deliver up to 350kW of charging power, enabling people to charge vehicles within 20-30 minutes initially, and "much faster" in the future as battery technology develops.
The charging network will be powered by zero carbon solar energy and battery storage projects, also constructed by Gridserve, ensuring carbon emission targets can be met, whilst also keeping prices low.
While their vehicles charge, drivers will be able to relax or shop in a two storey building which will house facilities including a coffee shop, convenience supermarket, and airport-style lounge with high-speed internet and meeting rooms. The facility will also function as an education centre for electric vehicles and sustainable energy, which will help people to learn about, test drive, and purchase or lease vehicles that are most suitable for them, with the ultimate aim of providing the confidence, and support to transition to an all electric future.
As part of a GBP1bn programme, Gridserve is developing more than 100 of these sites on busy routes and near powerful grid connections close to towns, cities and major transport hubs. Supporting the UK government's commitment to ban the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles within 15 years, the company aims to have its UK network operational within five years. Gridserve is currently in discussions with a number of local authorities around the UK and expects to have several more sites in construction and many more into planning by the end of this year.
Toddington Harper, CEO and founder of Gridserve, said: "We've designed our electric forecourts entirely around the needs of EV drivers, updating the petrol station model for a net-zero carbon future. Many more people want to buy electric vehicles but are worried about how to charge them. We will help solve that challenge and deliver the confidence needed to make the switch to electric transport.
"This will be the most advanced charging facility in the UK, and possibly the world. Drivers will be able to turn up and charge their vehicle at the fastest rate each vehicle can support, using 100% renenewable energy, and with the best possible charging experience."
Construction on the first forecourt on a 2.5 acre site adjacent to Great Notley, just off the A131, is supported by a GBP4.86m grant from Innovate UK, one of the largest awarded last year. The site has links to Stansted Airport, Chelmsford, Colchester and the M11.
Gridserve is also developing several large solar farms, supported by batteries, to supply energy to the forecourts to ensure 100% of the electricity is clean and low cost. The company recently completed what it claims is the UK's most advanced solar farm (video), a 34.7MWp project at York with bifacial panels, sun trackers, and a 30MWh battery, and is completing a 25.7MWp project at Hull using similar technology. It plans to develop electric forecourts at both sites powered by the solar produced on site.
Toddington Harper said: "We want to accelerate the electric vehicle revolution, support UK climate and clean air targets and help the grid meet the challenges of the low carbon transition. We are interested in new project opportunities and are partnering with investors, developers, local authorities, EV manufacturers, retailers, fleet operators and others who share our vision."