Welcome Break’s South Mimms services on the Junction of the M1 and M25 has become the first site on the motorway to offer an electric car-charging point for electric vehicles.

The ‘top-up zone’ at South Mimms is part of Ecotricity’s first installation phase of a national motorway network of electric car-charging points, which will see points at 12 Welcome Break sites by September.

Each post will be located outside the main entrance, with two sockets that can be accessed by registering for a free swipecard, and within 18 months all 27 Welcome Break motorway services will have charging points.

Every charging post will be powered with 100% green energy made at Ecotricity’s wind and solar parks across the UK, and means that electric car drivers (and motorcycle riders) will be able to drive from London to Edinburgh or Exeter completely free and with vastly reduced emissions.

This breakthrough in electric car infrastructure removes one of the main barriers for people wanting to buy electric cars – range anxiety – which currently restricts people to driving within their own city.

Electric cars can top-up in 20 minutes using rapid recharge points (32A supply) or fully charge in two hours; while those using the slower (13A supply) will be able to recharge fully if staying overnight at motorway service hotels.

Dale Vince OBE, founder of Ecotricity, said: “Until now, charging posts have all been in city centres like London, but this is where you need them the least. Statistics show that it’s not in towns and cities where electric cars need to recharge, but on longer journeys between cities – and that means motorways.

“We’re creating the infrastructure to get Britain’s electric car revolution moving. This marks the beginning of the end for the old combustion engine. With world oil prices going through the roof, you’ll now be able to get around Britain using only the power of the wind. It costs 1p a mile in an electric vehicle, compared with 10p in a petrol car (at today’s oil prices).

“We consume 25 million barrels of oil every year in the UK to do the 250 billion miles we drive every year. But we could power all that with 10,000 of today’s windmills, or just 5,000 of tomorrow’s.”

Rod McKie, CEO of Welcome Break, said: “We are very excited about working with Ecotricity. There is no doubt that the electric car will arrive on Britain’s motorways and Welcome Break wants to be at the forefront of giving the modern motorist what they want, when they want it. As hybrid and electric cars become part of everyday life, Welcome Break will have the facility to fast-charge these cars, giving electric car drivers the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of the UK.

“Welcome Break operate throughout the UK with locations as far afield as Scotland and down to the south-west and south-east of England, serving 80 million customers a year.”

As well as its Welcome Break network, Ecotricity has also installed a charging post at its windmill next to the M4 motorway in Reading. It is the first charge post to be powered directly from a windmill.