Western Power Distribution (WPD) is developing new technology to make installing rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargers at motorway service stations easier and quicker.
The ‘one size fits all’ solution is being developed as part of WPD’s £1 million Take Charge project. The technology can provide up to 20MVA – enough capacity for the installation of 40 new rapids – and is currently in the design stage, with building due to start in October.
The project will develop ‘plug and play’ components, with WPD saying that this has the advantage of being able to easily and quickly deliver capacity compared to building additional infrastructure, which is usually complex and has a large footprint.
The distribution network operator (DNO) is predicting that £0.5 million could be saved per site installation, representing a total saving of £33.3 million across the UK if rolled out to 75% of existing service stations.
It is partnering with Moto to trial the solution, with 40 rapid chargers to be installed at Moto’s Exeter site by March 2021. The installation will be trialed over a six-month period, with WPD evaluating the performance of the solution, the benefits generated and the associated learning.
WPD’s DSO development manager, Paul Jewell, said that making charging easier and quicker “in all scenarios” is needed to encourage the adoption of EVs, lauding the Take Charge project’s ability to reduce costs and make the installation of rapids easier.
“Ultimately it is our hope that this project will ensure that EV drivers on journeys of all lengths are never far away from a rapid charger and that service stations have the capacity required to meet expected demand,” he added.
The installation of chargers at motorway service stations has also found its way onto the government's radar. In the 2020 Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans for a Rapid Charging Fund, with details then unveiled two months later in May.
The £500 million fund will help pay for connection costs to enable the installation of high-powered chargers (HPC) at motorway sites across England.
The aim is for six HPCs between 150kW and 350kW to be available at motorway service areas by 2023, with some larger sites having up to 10-12 chargers.
However, the Renewable Energy Association has said that if this goal is to be met, work must start "soon", issuing eight principles to deliver the fund.