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Gridserve opens the UK’s first service station dedicated to electric vehicles

Gridserve Braintree Electric Forecourt

Gridserve has officially opened an Electric Forecourt near Braintree, Essex, the first of a new chain of service stations dedicated to electric vehicles. 

In September this year, Electrical Review detailed some of the facilities that will be available at an Electric Forecourt location, including an array of electric vehicle chargers, as well as toilets, eateries and shops. Now, the first location is finally open and welcoming the first set of EV drivers. 

The Braintree site is the first of over 100 Electric Forecourts being built by Gridserve over the next five years. The company hopes that its unique service station concept will help ease people into the transition to electric vehicles, especially those worried about the lack of charging infrastructure on UK roads. 

A number of different chargers, mostly manufactured by ABB, have been installed at the Braintree location. The chargers range in speed, with the fastest designed for heavy goods vehicles and cars with quick charging speeds. Those chargers will be the Terra HP 175/350 kW units from ABB, of which there will be 12 in Braintree. Most electric cars will be content with the 12 Terra 94 units, which provide a charging speed of up to 90 kW, while those only capable of slower charging speeds may want to opt for one of six Terra AC 22 kW chargers. Additionally, there are Tesla Superchargers on location. 

Considering the recent announcement that new diesel and petrol vehicles will be banned from sale in 2030, the Gridserve Electric Forecourt concept could not have come at a better time. The next five years will see the number of these service stations swell, which should give consumers confidence in the viability of electric vehicles, and the UK a much welcome boost on the EV charging capacity front. 

Toddington Harper, founder and CEO of GRIDSERVE, commented, “Today’s 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

“Together with our charging-included electric vehicle leasing business, that we are also launching today in partnership with Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC, people now have the full confidence to make the transition to an electric vehicle, knowing that charging is in-hand, and it’s actually less expensive to use an electric car than a petrol or diesel alternative.”

The Braintree Electric Forecourt, adjacent to Great Notley, just off the A131, enables 36 electric vehicles to be charged simultaneously, with high power chargers that can deliver up to 350 kW of charging power, enabling people to add 200 miles of range in 20 minutes, and much faster in the future as electric vehicle battery technologies mature. Together with Gridserve, the project has been funded by Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC, Innovate UK and OZEV.

James Cleverly, Minister of State, former Conservative Party Chairman and MP for Braintree, noted, “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 as quickly as possible, which is why we have just brought forward the ban on new petrol or diesel to 2030. Gridserve’s Electric Forecourt, close to Braintree, is the most advanced charging facility in the world and is pioneering the world-class infrastructure required to support our policies and drive the confidence we need to make the move to sustainable transport in the UK.”

A cleaner way to travel

The Electric Forecourt 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 generated from both the solar power canopies above the chargers, and a network of hybrid solar farms, also operated by Gridserve. 

The UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm in Clay Hill is paired with Braintree Electric Forecourt, providing 100% renewable energy via the National Grid. There is also a 6 MWh battery on-site which helps to balance the local energy grid and shift energy to periods when it is more valuable. For example, on windy winter nights the battery can store enough energy to drive 24,000 miles in electric vehicles the following day, helping to maximise the value of renewable energy resources, stabilise the grid, and keep prices low.

Drivers charging at the Electric Forecourt will initially pay just 24p per kWh of energy (including VAT), which is currently the lowest ultra-high power charging rates on the market today – meaning a typical charge from 20% to 80% costs under £10 for an average-size electric vehicle on the market today. To deliver additional flexibility Gridserve plans to introduce a tiered pricing structure in the future.

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