UK utility, National Grid, has identified 50 motorway sites where it would offer rapid recharging facilities for electric vehicles.

FT reports that the company is planning to install a fleet of superfast charging points along Britain’s motorways that would feed directly off the electricity transmission network. The FTSE 100 utility company operates the country’s high-voltage power grid.

The plan would go some way to allaying range anxiety, the fear EV owners have of running out of charge on a motorway.
National Grid

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National Grid has mapped Britain’s motorways and transmission networks and identified 50 strategic sites, said Graeme Cooper, project director of electric vehicles at the group.

Those locations mean that more than 90 per cent of drivers would be able to drive in any direction from any location in the UK and be within 50 miles of an ultra-rapid charger. The chargers would provide up to 350 KW of power and would allow a driver to charge their car in five to 12 minutes, a big improvement on the 20 to 40 minutes it currently takes. That would make electric charging comparable to the seven minutes it currently takes on average to fill up a petrol car. If 100 chargers were installed on each of the chosen motorway sites, it would equate to about 35 MW of electricity — enough to power 14,000 homes.

“It’s the critical infrastructure that’s key,” said Mr Cooper. “It’s about future-proofing the network so it has the capacity to charge cars as quickly and efficiently as possible. Range anxiety is listed at the top of [drivers’] reasons for not buying an electric car.”

National Grid, he added, was “engaging with various parts of government” and was offering this “scenario planning” as “a potential answer” to show “what’s possible”.

The grid infrastructure would cost between £500m and £1bn, or about 60p per driver per year if all motorists shouldered the cost, according to National Grid estimates.

Analysts also believe superfast chargers connected to the transmission network could also help prevent local power shortages.

In a statement to Power Engineering International, Graeme Cooper said, “This is not about National Grid charging vehicles , but enabling the charging to happen.We think the rollout of the charging points should be structured and co-ordinated. Rather than connecting one customer at a time and having a piecemeal approach, provide the infrastructure in a co-ordinated way.”

“We need a sufficient number of chargers to avoid queues at peak times and rapid chargers to minimise the time batteries charge. 350kw chargers would allow for quicker charge; as car batteries get bigger they will take longer to charge. If you overlay the motorway network over the transmission network, there is a synergy.  The electricity transmission network runs close to motorway network and likely to be most efficient connection at many sites.”
Matthew Trevaskis, Head of Electric Vehicles at the Renewable Energy Association, said: This is an important milestone for the development of a strategic, accessible, and reliable electric vehicle charging network in the UK. National Grid will play an increasingly crucial role in EV rollout and it is excellent to see some big-picture thinking from them on this issue.”

“The pace of progress relating to EV rollout from automotive manufacturers, charge companies, and grid operators is rapidly increasing, and it is now up to Government and regulators to build on the excellent work done to date and to implement documents such as the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan.”