Lock-up garages are a common if overlooked part of the London landscape, but their potential to provide a new generation of electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs is about to be unlocked.
A unique partnership will combine the EV infrastructure expertise of SSE Enterprise and access to hundreds of lock up garage sites across London managed by InfraTech Property Solutions (IPS).
A lock up garage site could make way for smart charging sites, known as Digital Community Hubs (DCHs) which combine rapid charging with 5G and Edge computing technology. A DCH will consist of 10-20 rapid charging bays and even an onsite coffee van for waiting drivers.
The project team are hoping to pilot one site near Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 later in the year – a prime position to serve local delivery and taxi EVs. Solar and battery technology, as well as distributed energy generation will also be deployed at the hubs to ease pressure on the electricity grid.
The charging sites will be located across the capital to provide round the clock charging where it is needed most. Rapid and even ultra-fast charging technology will cut charging times to 30 minutes and even 10 minutes for top-ups.
The EV hub infrastructure will be designed, developed and operated by SSE Enterprise, with the aim of being rolled out across London and the Home Counties at up to 1,000 IPS managed sites.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has set a target of providing 50,000 charge points across London by 2025. This new partnership could potentially meet around 10% of this required capacity.
Kevin Welstead, SSE Enterprise EV Sector Director, said if the community hub network was rolled out fully, it could charge over 100,000 cars every year – or 4% of the 2.66m cars in London today.
He said: “This project has the capability to provide the mass rollout of EV charging that London is crying out for as more and more consumers switch to EV. Space in the capital to build charging hubs is like gold dust, but thanks to the network of lock up garages tucked away across the city managed by IPS, we can build a network that could charge a tenth of all EVs in London.
“If we’re serious about bringing cleaner air to the streets of London then we need this kind of innovative thinking to meet demand. It is certainly a project with huge potential for London.”
Harriet Dudding and Steve White, Founding Partners of IPS, said: “We are excited by partnering with SSE Enterprise as it means we can maximise usage of over 1,000 sites for EV drivers in London to re-charge with total confidence.
“Local communities will benefit hugely from our Digital Community Hubs with the provision of the latest technology in EV charging, local Edge computing facilities, 5G telecoms and energy generation effectively in a one stop shop facility. We are proud to be playing a role in London’s clean growth strategy and helping deliver cleaner air for Londoners.”
Ian Anderson, Chief Executive of Iceni Projects, which is advising SSE Enterprise and IPS on planning and property matters, added: “We are excited to be working with SSE and IPS on this innovative venture and we look forward to engaging with local authorities, communities and City Hall to formulate working solutions for all parties.
“Community connectivity is in increasing demand and is now rightly regarded as essential infrastructure for a city of London’s status. Iceni see the implementation of SSE and IPS proposed Digital Community Hubs as a sustainable model to future proof London’s fast-growing needs for EV and digital infrastructure.”
Last year the Mayor of London also hosted a Clean Air Summit and introduced Ultra Low Emission Zones to address the capital’s air pollution levels which regularly breach World Health Organisation (WHO) limits.
According to Department of Transport statistics, van emissions increased by 65% in 2016, and in the same period van traffic almost doubled. It is also estimated that online shopping could grow by a third by 2030.
As part of EV100 commitment, the wider SSE Group has also pledged to switch 3,500 of its own fleet to electric, as well as installing additional charging points for its employees to use in various offices, depots, and other locations.