Retailers sign up to co-locate on UK's first electric forecourt
A host of retailers including WHSmith, Costa Coffee, Booths and Gourmade have enrolled into a new partnership with the UK's first electric forecourt, which is due to open near Braintree, Essex, this November.
WHSmith, Costa Coffee, Post Office, Booths, and Gourmade, will all be retail brands located onsite at the Braintree forecourt being developed as part of the ambitious Gridserve's project aiming to develop more than one hundred electric forecourts across the UK. Ground was broken in March 2020 on the installation and it is set to be ready for drivers in November.
Charging infrastructure and technical advice and assistance will also be provided by ABB, Tesla and the AA. The wider forecourt ambitions aim to drastically improve charging availability for electric vehicle drivers, while spurring uptake in the technology.
Gridserve chief executive Toddington Harper said: “Our UK-wide network of over 100 customer-focused Electric Forecourts will eliminate range and charging anxiety by making it easier and cheaper to charge an electric vehicle than to fuel a petrol or diesel alternative.
“The UK’s first electric forecourt represents so much more than an electric equivalent of a modern petrol station – it will deliver a fully loaded customer experience, offering the Best of British retail and customer service to cater for a full range of consumer and driver needs.”
Hitachi Capital will back the Gridserve project, which will be delivered over the next five years. Gridserve unveiled a £1bn programme in March 2019 to construct more than 100 "Electric Forecourts" across the UK, which combine renewable energy, battery storage and rapid chargers to meet the needs of EV drivers.
Each forecourt will follow a similar structure to the Braintree location; they will all combine onsite renewables, multi-megawatt batteries and a dozen or more rapid EV chargers. Some will be co-located with solar farms currently being developed by Gridserve, including arrays in York (34.7MWp) and Hull (25.7MWp) as part of a partnership with Warrington Borough Council.
Each of the charging points at the forecourt will be able to deliver up to 350kW of charge, which users can adjust in line with their vehicle’s technology. Gridserve claims this means many models will be able to charge within 20 or 30 minutes. Energy to power the chargers is generated using onsite solar panels, which are connected to battery storage arrays to balance out variable outputs. Any additional electricity required will be procured through a 100% renewable energy tariff. In total, 24 of the Electric Forecourt’s high power chargers will be provided by ABB.
The forecourt is being built in Braintree, next to the Horizon 120 Business and Innovation park, planned for Great Notley, after Braintree District Council granted planning permission last summer. The site has links to Stanstead Airport, Chelmsford, Colchester and the M11, and will play host to meeting rooms, an airport-style lounge including a WHSmith retails shop, a Costa Coffee and business meeting room hub.
WHSmith’s managing director of travel Toby Keir said: “At WHSmith, we have been serving customers on their journeys for over 200 years and we understand how important convenience is to people on the go.
“We’re therefore delighted to be partnering with Gridserve’s Electric Forecourt to deliver a new first-class retail experience, with fantastic service and a tailored product offer. It’s a great concept and we look forward to playing our part over the next hundred years with the future of electric cars.”