Renewable energy specialist Gridserve, the operator behind the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm at Clayhill in Bedfordshire (opened in 2017), has opened the first of 100 planned electric forecourts, located just off the A131 near Braintree in Essex. The facility will now enable up to 36 electric vehicles to charge at a time, offering high power chargers delivering up to 350 kW and allowing motorists to recharge for 200 miles of range in just 20 minutes.
Charge times offer clear potential for complementary retail
While cars charge, drivers can relax and shop in state-of-the-art facilities catering to a wide range of needs. This includes an extensive retail space housing a number of partner brands including WHSmith Travel, Costa Coffee, Booths, Post Office, and Gourmade. The main building also includes a waiting lounge, free superfast WiFi, high-end washrooms, dedicated kid’s area, wellbeing area with exercise bikes that generate electricity, business meeting room pods and an education centre communicating the benefits of electric vehicles.
Average car charge to cost £10
Drivers charging at the electric forecourt will initially pay just 24p per kWh of energy, currently the lowest ultra-high power charging rate in the UK. This means that a typical charge of 60% of capacity costs under £10 for an average-size electric vehicle. To deliver additional flexibility Gridserve also has plans to introduce a tiered pricing structure in the future. The Braintree site is part of Gridserve’s wider ‘sun-to-wheel’ infrastructure, built to deliver low cost, net zero carbon energy to every vehicle that uses one of Gridserve’s chargers. Electricity is supplied from both the solar power canopies above the chargers, and Gridserve’s network of hybrid solar farms. There is also a 6 MWh battery onsite to help balance the local energy grid and shift energy to periods when it is more valuable. In partnership with Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC, Gridserve has also launched Gridserve Electric Vehicle Solutions, the UK’s first net zero electric vehicle leasing business. The service is designed to bring the cost of driving electric well below that of petrol or diesel cars and minimise the environmental impact of EVs.
Toddington Harper, Chief Executive, Gridserve commented:
‘This announcement represents a major milestone in achieving Gridserve’s purpose to deliver sustainable energy and move the needle on climate change. It’s our collective responsibility to prevent greenhouse gas emissions rising further, and electric vehicles powered by clean energy represent a large part of the solution. However, charging has to be simple and free of anxiety, which is why we’ve designed our Electric Forecourts entirely around the needs of drivers, updating the traditional petrol station model for a net-zero carbon world and delivering the confidence people need to make the switch to electric transport today – a full decade ahead of the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars.'