By Anders Lorenzen
While electric cars (EV) are still in their infancy in the UK, there are signs of growing interest and demand, as the country becomes more aware of the issues of air pollution, the impact of diesel and the need to electrify transport to tackle climate change.
One of the stumbling blocks for EV uptake is the lack of charging stations and the fact that charging takes too long and the mileage is too low. But as the technology has improved, increasing mileage range and cutting down charging time EV’s are becoming more attractive.
The advent of fast charging networks will significantly reduce charging times. One company working on this is the Dutch company Fastned, which is in the process of rolling out a network of fast charging networks across Europe. And it has now won a tender to install these stations in the northern UK towns of Sunderland and Newcastle, showing that the UK is fast becoming EV- connected. Two of the six chargers in the Newcastle area, to be installed at Newcastle University will be the powerful 175kW & 350kW enabled chargers, which will charge an EV up to 100 times faster than at home.
Due to the innovative technology, drivers of many of the new EV models that will be released from 2018 onwards will be able to add 125 miles of range to their cars in less than ten minutes. One of the other concerns about EV`s green credentials is, of course, how their electricity is generated. But the chargers installed in Sunderland and Newcastle will be powered by renewables. As you charge your car you will be sheltered by Fastned’s solar photovoltaic canopies. Additionally, all EVs already on the road will still be able to visit the stations to top up their batteries at their maximum charge capacity.
As part of the agreement struck with the university, Fastned will be collaborating closely with Newcastle University’s researchers to develop a greater understanding of the impact of EV charging on local electrical grids, and the potential roles for EVs and battery storage in the smart electrical grids of the future. At the same time, Fastned will work with North East Combined Authority (NECA) to research and understand business models for electric vehicle infrastructure in the region.
The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), and the UK Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). The company will manage the stations’ design and construction, and operate and maintain them as part of its growing network.
So what’s next in this move to electrify Britain’s roads? Fastned aims to build many more multi-charger stations all around the UK over the next three years. The company says that it will give freedom and flexibility to EV drivers, and help to usher in a revolution in decarbonised transport. And it will be heading south soon too as in 2017 Fastned won a tender with Transport for London (TfL) to build and operate fast charging locations in the Greater London area. TfL is currently in the process of developing sites and making them available for Fastned and four other selected parties to bid for.