Virgin Media owner unveils plans for 1,200 on-street EV chargers

Telecommunications giant Liberty Global, the owner of Virgin Media, has unveiled detailer around a new project aiming to "revolutionise" on-street electric vehicle (EV) charging in the UK.

Around 40% of UK properties do not have off-street parking, meaning they'll need on-street infrastructure to support home charging of an EV. Image: Virgin Media

Around 40% of UK properties do not have off-street parking, meaning they'll need on-street infrastructure to support home charging of an EV. Image: Virgin Media

The project will see 1,200 EV charging points deployed across the UK over the next 18 months – all of which will be powered via Virgin Media’s street cabinets and ducts. Nationally, the company owns and operates 40,000 street cabinets and 170,000km of ducts.

All of the EV charging points will be connected to Virgin Media’s digital networks, in a model which Liberty Global claims is future-proof and scalable.

Virgin Media received funding for the scheme, called Virgin Media Park & Charge, through the UK Government’s Innovate UK arm. The company is additionally receiving support from Vattenfall, SMS, Cenex, Ginger Town, Fully Charged, Connected Kerb, DETA and Loughborough University.

The charging points will be installed in regions covered by the local authority partners of the scheme, namely the West Midlands Combined Authority; Oxfordshire County Council; Worcestershire County Council; Northamptonshire County Council; Liverpool City Council; Croydon Council; Wandsworth Council; Hammersmith & Fulham Council; Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Belfast City Council.

“Leveraging street cabinets allows Liberty Global to look beyond traditional uses of telecom infrastructure and make a positive impact on the environment and in communities throughout the UK,” Liberty Global’s vice president for energy and utilities Jason Simpson said.

“By bringing more EV chargers and associated connectivity to Britain’s streets, we are making a significant contribution to Innovate UK’s ambition to encourage more people to buy electric cars.”

Pivot!

In related news, EDF’s UK renewables arm has today (4 November) acquired grid-scale battery and EV infrastructure firm Pivot Power, as it strives to bring an additional 10GW of energy storage capacity online by 2035.

The deal will form part of EDF Renewables UK’s plan to become the “leading” e-mobility firm in the UK, France, Italy and Belgium by 2022.

As for Pivot Power, it will enable the company to up to 2GW to its network of transmission-connected batteries, which serve to help decarbonise the power sector. The first two projects will soon begin in Cowley, Oxfordshire, and Kemsley, Kent, with further arrays expected to be commissioned in 2020.

Pivot Power claims that each of these projects has the potential to support hundreds of rapid EV chargers.

There are plans to install batteries connected directly to the high-voltage transmission system - with a total capacity of up to 2 GW. The first two storage projects at Kemsley (Kent) and Cowley (Oxford) have land, planning and grid connection agreements in place and are expected to be commissioned in 2020. As part of its projects, Pivot Power will develop a private wire infrastructure to enable, among other opportunities, the development of mass rapid charging points across the UK.

Each of Pivot Power’s projects has the potential to host a battery capable of exporting 50 MW of power and to provide support for hundreds of rapid EV chargers, potentially suitable for large retail sites, logistics centres, bus depots and park and rides.

“Battery storage and electric vehicles are two key technologies which will help lower carbon emissions, alongside generation from renewables and nuclear,” EDF Energy’s chief executive Simone Rossi said.

“The acquisition of Pivot Power shows EDF is investing in a wide range of projects to deliver the huge shift to low carbon energy the UK will need to reach net-zero by 2050.”

EDF recently acquired PowerFlex Systems in the US and now reportedly has its sights set on a takeover of UK-based EV charging firm PodPoint.

Sarah George



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