UK’s largest public EV charging hub opens in Birmingham

The facility was officially opened by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt at the exhibition centre on Thursday (7 September). The £8m project is believed to mark the UK’s biggest private investment deal in EV charging infrastructure, which the Chancellor has dubbed “a huge vote of confidence” in the sector.

Venue operator NEC Group partnered with The EV Network and bp pulse to develop and deliver the new ‘Gigahub’. The facility hosts 150 rapid charging points and 16 ultra-rapid charging points, all of which are capable of operating simultaneously. There are also accessible bays with rapid chargers, bringing the total number of chargers to 180.

Some seven million people visit the NEC each year. Additionally, more than 50 million other vehicles pass through the local road system each year, given its proximity to the M42 and M6.

NEC Group’s chairman Paul Thandi said the ‘Gigahub’ “provides NEC Campus customers, commuters, and those working for local regional or national businesses, a reliable and convenient way to recharge and support a lower-carbon travel future”.

Further clarity on government funding

The new ‘Gigahub’ contributes to the UK Government’s vision to ensure that it is cheaper and easier to charge an EV than to refuel with petrol or diesel by 2030. This is supported by an ambition to quadruple the number of publicly available rapid chargers by the end of 2025, against a 2020 baseline.

Upon announcing these targets in 2022, the Government outlined spending plans for £1.6bn. Some £950m was allocated for public chargers across England’s motorway network, and the remainder made available on a competitive basis to local authorities to fund infrastructure on streets and at busy locations within communities.

The first round of this local authority funding pot, called the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Capital Fund, was officially opened to applications earlier this week. Councils will be able to take a share of £343m and the Government has listed several local authorities it believes would have the strongest chances, including the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Since that announcement regarding the LEVI was made, two consortiums of 13 councils across the Midlands have signalled their intention to bid for more than £39m of the funding.

The bids will be made through two partnerships. The first comprises Nottinghamshire County Council, Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council, Nottingham City Council and Staffordshire County Council. The second includes Lincolnshire County Council, Herefordshire County Council, Leicestershire County Council, Rutland County Council, Shropshire Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Telford and Wrekin Council and Warwickshire County Council.

These councils estimate that the region will need to install more than 17,400 additional public EV charging points by the end of 2025.

Midlands Connect chief executive Maria Machancoses said: This funding will improve the lives of those living in the Midlands, particularly for those who do not have access to off-street parking and may struggle to charge their vehicle otherwise.”

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