Gridserve opens UK’s first electric-only forecourt

By Ellen Daniel

The UK’s first electric-only car charging forecourt has opened in Braintree, Essex.

Operated by green energy company Gridserve, the electric forecourt has the capacity to charge up to 36 vehicles at once, using high power chargers that can deliver up to 350 kW of charging power.

This means that drivers can add an additional 200 miles of range to their vehicles in just 20 minutes.

According to EDF Energy there are now over 30,000 electric vehicle charge points across the UK. However, this is the first charging station exclusively for electric vehicles.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders estimates that over 1.9m charging points will have to be built by 2030 to keep up with demand.

This is the first of the company’s network of 100 electric forecourts it plans to build in the next five years ahead of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars.

The forecourt is powered by solar panels located in canopies about the charging stations as well as energy generated by Gridserve’s network of hybrid solar farms. There is also a 6 MWh battery onsite which helps to balance the local energy grid.

Drivers using the electric forecourt will initially pay just 24p per kWh of energy, which is currently the lowest ultra-high power charging rate.

The electric forecourt will also have a retail space, featuring brands such as WHSmith Travel, Costa Coffee, Booths, Post Office, and Gourmade, as well as a waiting lounge, free wifi, exercise bikes and meeting pods.

As well as the Electric Forecourt, Gridserve is also launching the UK’s first net zero electric vehicle leasing business.

Anila Siraj, Head of Data Strategy at Kalibrate explains that this is an important moment in the adoption of electric vehicles in the UK:

“We mustn’t downplay the significance of Britain’s first ever electric forecourt opening today in Braintree, Essex. It’s a small, but necessary step that we need to take as the nation prepares for a world of electric vehicles (EVs). And with 100 more sites set to open over the coming five years, the challenge for the UK government will be ensuring that the infrastructure and network is in place to support mainstream EV adoption.”

However, she believes that the rollout of electric vehicle infrastructure, as well as incentivising consumers to make the switch, is key:

“The introduction of Tesla and subsequent cheaper EV alternatives from car manufacturers edged us into this new generation of travel. However, it’s not as simple as just buying the cars and introducing electric forecourts – effective implementation of EV infrastructures will take time and planning. We first need confidence in the charging network so that switching from diesel and petrol to electric is natural and doesn’t impact the customer’s daily life. The numbers alone are astonishing: we would need to build 4,000 individual charging points every day between now and 2030 to make the Government’s ten-point plan for a ‘green industrial revolution’ viable.

“Another challenge will be encouraging mainstream EV adoption. It’s not as simple as telling people to buy the cars, especially if the cost of EVs doesn’t come down. 2030 may well be too soon to realise the Government’s plans, but fuel retailers must begin preparing now. A well-thought out EV charging point strategy alongside a data-driven offering could help petrol retailers adapt well to the shift from fossil fuel to electric. As more people adapt to life with EVs, so too should petrol retail offerings.”

Read More: UK government announces £12m funding plans on World EV Day.