Bright idea: There will be 50 new charge points retro-fitted into lamp posts in London by the end of January 2018
By 2040 the Government expects the nation’s drivers to buy nothing other than electric and hybrid cars.
But with just 14,000 public charge points in the UK and some 45million UK licence holders to cater for, the powers that be have a huge task ahead if they want to provide enough plug-in locations for motorists in 23 years’ time.
One solution could be to convert lamp posts into charge points, which has already been trialed in London with seven installations.
On Monday, a further 50 have been given the green light in the capital.
The new car-charging lamp posts will be in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
They will allow electric vehicle owners to draw 100 per cent renewable energy from the council’s street lights, the suppliers said.
It’s part of a new tie-up between the local authority, green energy provider OVO and German technology company Ubitricity, which provides the ‘SimpleSockets’ charging conversions that are fitted to each lamp post.
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Not only is it cheaper than having to erect new charge points – which cost a rumoured £6,000 a piece – but it also means there’ll be no additional roadside furniture cluttering our streets.
This is Money brought you the news of the original trial back in June, which resulted in seven of the £1,000 conversions being fitted to lamp posts in streets in Barnes, Chelsea, Kensington, Richmond, Twickenham and Westminster.
And with London being the focal point of emissions reductions with the introduction of the T-Charge on top of the Congestion Charge last month – and Ultra Low Emissions Zones due in 2019 – the expansion will provide some additional battery top-up solutions for electric- and plug-in hybrid vehicle-owners in the capital.
How much will it cost to charge an electric car?
It sounds good, but it won’t be cheap for drivers to access.
Users will need to buy a compatible charging cable with an inbuilt electricity meter from the service provider, Ubitricity, with two pricing options:
On top of that, both options also require an additional £1 for each charging session and a charge of £1 per hour if drivers leave their cars plugged in for more than 24 hours to ensure the lamp posts aren’t always occupied by the same users.
The council will be handed these additional charges in full, which will be used to help maintain the equipment and potentially fund future deployments and replacements.
The smart charging cable holds all metering and billing information that is then relayed to the user’s mobile electricity contract. At the end of each month, drivers receive an email showing all their charging sessions and total cost for the electricity used.
When OVO asked 2,003 drivers what the biggest deterrent was when it came to purchasing an electric car, more than half of those living in the capital said it was due to a lack of charging facilities.
Councillor Gerard Hargreaves, Kensington and Chelsea Council Lead Member for Transport, said: ‘There is growing demand for charging facilities and a growing number of electric vehicles in Kensington and Chelsea.
‘Most residents do not have access to off-street parking to charge an electric vehicle.
‘Retro-fitting street lamps with charging technology allows drivers to conveniently charge their vehicles closer to home, while helping to tackle air pollution in London.’
In order to access the charging street lamps, electric vehicle owners will need to pay for the smart cable (up to £299) and varying usage fees depending on whether you have a subscription with Ubitricity
There are 7 lamp posts in London that have already been retro-fitted with the car charging SimpleSockets. The one pictured here is in Richmond
Installation of the conversion kits will begin this month and all 50 of the new charge points will be operational by the end of January 2018.
A spokesperson for the provider told This is Money that each socket can be fitted to the street lights in under 30 minutes and can be removed within three minutes, if necessary.
Many of the street lights have their bulbs switched to LEDs – these use less energy and free-up excess electricity for vehicles to charge.
London charge points to double in 2018
Earlier this year, London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed a £4.5million investment in electric vehicle charging points across the capital next year.
A proposed 1,500 new chargers will be installed – doubling the current figure in London.
This will be on top of the 150 rapid chargers Transport for London has promised to taxi drivers and commercial fleets in 2018.
The new residential charge points will help those without access to off-street parking to make the switch from polluting vehicles to zero-emission vehicles and will be available in 25 different boroughs across the city.
The age of the lamp post also appears to be of little issue either.
Ubitricity has already installed sockets to heritage-listed lamp posts in Kensington and Chelsea under approval of the council.
With 7.5million street lamps in the UK – according to Highways Agency figures – some believe it could be the most affordable answer to the nation’s need for an improved EV infrastructure.
This in turn would make plug-in vehicles more practical for the wider market and to reduce the exceedingly high pollution levels in urban areas.
Tom Pakenham, head of electric vehicles at OVO, said: ‘With one million electric vehicles expected on the UK roads by 2022, it is important we continue to invest in technologies that solve the infrastructure challenges facing our cities.
‘We want to remove barriers to electric vehicle adoption by providing innovative, simple and widely available urban charging solutions at a cost well below that of running a traditional car, and by giving people more control over their total energy usage.’