Rapid EV charging ‘forecourts’ to open in Norwich and at Gatwick airport in 2022

Pictured: An artist's CGI impression of the Gatwick facility. Image: Gridserve/Greenhouse

The Gatwick location is due to open in autumn 2022, adjacent to the M23, off the Ring Road South approach to the airport’s South Terminal. It will host 36 rapid EV charging points which can add up to 100 miles of range in 10 minutes, depending on the vehicle model.

As well as charging facilities, the location will host a café, convenience store, waiting lounge and play area for children. This set-up is modelled after Gridserve’s first electric forecourt, which opened in Braintree, Essex, in December 2020.

Gatwick Airport’s chief commercial officer Jonathan Pollard said: “Our new high-powered charging facility – delivered by GRIDSERVE – will help meet the increasing need for EV charging infrastructure at the airport, including the growing number of our passengers who own electric vehicles and need fast, convenient and effective charging facilities.

“The new charging infrastructure will also benefit people right across our community, including thousands of staff who live locally, businesses looking to introduce EV fleets – even those operating busses and trucks – and also local residents who may be considering buying an electric car but were undecided due to the lack of charging facilities.”

Gatwick is notably targeting net-zero by 2040 at the latest, but has come under fire from green groups, who have asked how this target will be delivered when expansion is planned. Since the Airport announced that target, the UK Government has mandated that all airports and domestic flights achieve net-zero by 2040. 

Gridserve unveiled a £1bn programme in March 2019 to construct more than 100 “Electric Forecourts” across the UK. It believes it can deliver on this vision by 2026. The Norwich forecourt will host 34 rapid chargers.

Broader vision

As well as the forecourts,  Gridserve is developing smaller ‘electric hubs’, and has this week revealed that more than 20 locations are set to open in the first quarter of 2022. The firm is using a combination of chargers acquired from Ecotricity when it purchased the company’s ‘Electric Highway’ network of motorway infrastructure, and new infrastructure, to deliver its network.

Each hub will feature between six and 12 chargers, with the same 350 kW fast charging capacity as those at the forecourts. Hub locations include Cornwall, Devon, Wales, East Sussex, Tyne and Wear and Wirral.

All hubs and forecourts will be powered with 100% renewable electricity, self-generated by Gridserve at its portfolio of solar farms and onsite solar arrays. Gridserve is investing in grid-scale solar farms to match every kW of charge with equivalent generation, where electricity cannot be directly sent from PV panels to chargers. The firm notably purchased the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm from developer Anesco last summer and is planning further acquisitions in the future.

Charging ahead

It has been known for several years that rates of current and planned charging point installations in the UK are being outpaced by the growth of the nation’s EV stock. The 2020 Budget saw Chancellor Rishi Sunak reveal that the government was developing plans to ensure that EV drivers are never more than 30 miles away from a rapid charging point. 

Recent research from organisations including the Transport Select CommitteeCentrica and the Guardian has since highlighted a “postcode lottery” for charging infrastructure, with urban regions generally hosting better networks than their rural counterparts.

This challenge will need to be addressed if the UK Government is to make good on its levelling up commitments and to support the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales from 2030, on the road to net-zero by 2050.

Private sector charging providers are increasingly stepping into this gap in the market. Late last month, carmakers participating in the IONITY joint venture – which is planning to create a “super” network of rapid EV chargers across mainland Europe and the UK – announced an investment package aimed at quadrupling the project’s charging stock by 2025.

Sarah George

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