Industry

17 FEB 2023

NATIONAL HIGHWAYS’ £8M TO POWER ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE

An £8m investment is set to create a new high-powered charging infrastructure for drivers of electric vehicles.

National Highways has announced Ameresco will be contracted to upgrade seven motorway service areas, where currently the grid supply is not enough for high-powered charging infrastructure.

These areas will be upgraded using Energy Storage Systems, which are essentially giant battery packs.

The work will be supported by Costain and aims to help bring an end to ‘charge anxiety’ by improving access to chargepoints across England’s motorways at sites with poor national grid connectivity.

Malcolm Wilkinson, head of energy for National Highways, said: “We are working differently and innovating to support the switch to zero emission journeys. 

“Whilst we have limited control over the number of petrol and diesel cars on the network, by supporting the expansion of the high-powered charge points network, we hope to increase EV drivers’ confidence for all types of journeys, both long and short. 

“These new Energy Storage Systems and the high-powered chargers they supply will help ensure that motorists are unlikely to be caught without somewhere to charge, which is a fantastic move for drivers and the environment accelerating the speed in which we transition to new electric vehicles.” 

Mark Apsey, managing director of Ameresco Ltd, added these systems will facilitate the uptake of EVs, by creating the infrastructure needed for people to “switch with confidence”. 

"Transport accounts for around 27% of UK GHG emissions and it is imperative we switch as quickly as possible if the UK is to meet its target to decarbonise by 2050,” he said.

The Energy Storage Systems support high-powered chargers, with the aim that all motorway service areas will have at least six high-powered, open access chargepoints by the end of 2023. 

With a typical storage capacity of 2MWh, the batteries in each system - which will charge overnight when spare electric is available - have enough energy to support more than two million miles of zero emission motoring each year.   

To put the energy in perspective, just from a single charge, a system would be capable of meeting the electrical needs of a typical home for roughly eight months. 

Priority sites for the upgrade include, Beaconsfield on the M40, Corley on the M6 Northbound, Clacket Lane on the M25, both Eastbound and Westbound and Maidstone on the M20.

Taunton on the M5 Northbound and Tebay on the M6 Northbound are also priority sites for this development.

Jesse Norman, transport decarbonisation minister, said: "Expanding the UK’s rapid charging network is essential if more people are to switch to electric vehicles, and should make charging cheaper and more convenient.

"Drivers today are never more than 25 miles away from a rapid charge point anywhere on England's motorways and major A roads. 

“But this news marks another innovative step to making sure that rapid charging is accessible and reliable for drivers.”

Energy Storage Systems comprise of grid-scale batteries safely housed in a heated and air conditioned 40ft shipping container, which can support additional high-powered (150kW) electric vehicle charge points at those motorway service areas.    

Ameresco will work closely with the motorway service area operators Extra, Roadchef, Welcome Break and Westmorland to support them making applications to the local authority for planning permission and to the distribution network operators to secure permission to connect the Energy Storage System to the grid.      

National Highways has previously demonstrated its commitment to electric vehicles, with Energy Storage Systems among a host of measures it is taking to improve air quality and tackle carbon emissions from road transport as Britain takes steps to become a zero-carbon economy by 2050. 

The scheme has been made possible by National Highways’ Designated Funds programme designed to benefit people, the economy and the planet with an overall investment of £936m between 2020 and 2025. 

The moves are all part of National Highway’s net zero carbon plan, which will see it rapidly cut corporate carbon emissions by 2030, as well as from road construction, maintenance and operations by 2040 and support the transition to zero-by 2050 emission vehicles.

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