The first of the 100 electric forecourts that are planned to be developed in the UK over the next five years is already charging EVs, and the company behind it, Gridserve, is proud of the result. The all-electric forecourt is located outside Braintree, in Essex, just by the A131.
The site houses a massive 6 MWh battery that is filled by using solar power coming from panels that are installed on the roof above the 36 charging stations. Each of them outputs 350 kW of electric power which comes at £0.24 per kW, the cheapest rate in the market right now.
At this charging rate, a typical EV would get 200 miles worth of energy in only 20 minutes. A full charge would cost the driver around £10, depending on the car model and cell capacity (all OEMs are covered).
For those who want or need to spend some time at the station, there’s a ‘Costa Cafe’ where they can relax for a while, and recharge with a cup of coffee or a fresh juice.
There, people could chat with owners of other brands, exchanging opinions and experiences, and celebrating the dawn of a new age, that of the electrification of cars. It is really happening, and there’s already a lot of diversity.
But is a solar-powered charging forecourt reliable enough to include it in your trip planning or should you opt for a home-based installation and the additional cost that comes with it? Gridserve says, even on windy winter nights, the battery can store enough energy for the following day. The figure they gave is 24,000 miles worth of charge, which is a bit cryptic.
If our calculation is correct, that would be the equivalent of having all 36 chargers outputting their max charging power for just over an hour, so it’s quite good actually.