Gridserve has begun construction of an ‘Electric Forecourt’ near Braintree, Essex. The project was granted an electricity generation licence last week. It will have capacity to charge 24 electric vehicles at once, with chargers rated at 350kW that allow a vehicle to be charged in 20-30 minutes. The company says it hopes to speed that up as battery technologies mature.
Construction at the 2.5 acre site adjacent to Great Notley, just off the A131, is supported by a £4.86 million grant from Innovate UK. The site has links to Stansted Airport, Chelmsford, Colchester and the M11.
While vehicles charge, drivers will have access to a range of 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 understand, test drive, and secure vehicles that are most suitable for them.
Gridserve says this will be the first of a £1 billion programme to build more than 100 Electric Forecourt® sites on busy routes and near powerful grid connections close to towns, cities and major transport hubs. It aims to have a UK-wide network operational within five years, and says it is 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”.
Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: “This ultramodern forecourt will provide residents and businesses in our district with access to a dependable source of green energy which will make owning an electric vehicle far more viable. The availability of this technology will put Braintree at the forefront of the low carbon transport revolution and will go a long way in helping us meet our climate targets.”
Gridserve is also developing several large solar farms, supported by batteries, to supply energy to its forecourts. The company recently completed 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 technologies.
Toddington Harper, chief executive and founder of Gridserve, 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.”