Gridserve has announced that the first of a nationwide network of over 100 ’Electric Forecourts’ is now under construction and will open this summer, offering "convenient, ultra-fast, low-cost charging, with an outstanding customer experience".
Located near Braintree in Essex, the new Electric Forecourt (the name has been registered as a trademark) is being designed to charge 24 electric vehicles at once with 350kW chargers. The planned network will be powered by "clean, zero-carbon solar energy and battery storage projects", also built by Gridserve.
Drivers will be able to relax or shop in a two-storey building, which will house 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, with the ultimate aim of providing the confidence and support to transition to an all electric future.
James Cleverly, Minister of State, former Conservative Party Chairman and MP for Braintree, said: “Our government is committed to increasing the take-up of electric vehicles, to clean our air and enable us to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Gridserve’s Electric Forecourt, close to Braintree, is pioneering the world-class charging infrastructure that we need to support our policies and will inspire people in towns and cities throughout the country to have the confidence to make the move to sustainable transport.”
As part of its £1bn programme, Gridserve says it is developing more than 100 Electric Forecourt 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 a UK-wide network operational within five years. The company 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 electric vehicle 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% renewable energy, and with the best possible charging experience.”
Construction on the first Electric Forecourt on a 2.5 acre site adjacent to Great Notley, just off the A131, is supported by a £4.86 million grant from Innovate UK, one of the largest awarded last year. The site has links to Stansted Airport, Chelmsford, Colchester and the M11.
Cllr Simon Walsh, Cabinet Member for Environment & Climate Change Action, Essex County Council, said: “Taking climate action is at the top of Essex County Council’s agenda and I intend to make Essex the most sustainable authority in the country. A rapid switch to electric vehicles is essential to respond to the climate emergency and improve public health by cleaning up our air, but it is being held back by lack of fit-for-purpose charging infrastructure. The Gridserve Electric Forecourt close to Braintree is pioneering a best-in-class new solution which will deliver businesses and private drivers the confidence to make the switch to sustainable transport.”
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 Electric Forecourts to ensure that 100% of the electricity is clean and low cost. The company recently completed the UK’s most advanced solar farm, a 34.7MWp project at York with bifacial panels, sun trackers, and a 30MWh battery (https://youtu.be/jtkNKJBpVAg), and is completing a 25.7MWp project at Hull using similar technologies. 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.”