The next five years are crucial for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure to meet net-zero targets. At SSE Energy Solutions, we want to install charging points in good locations that are accessible for everyone.
That’s why we’ve just announced our intention to build out no less than 300 rapid EV community charging hubs over the next five years to provide the spine of a national network of chargers. We will be opening our first hub at Castlebank in Glasgow as we help accelerate the national switch to EV. The site is due to launch in the autumn and will consist of 6 bays being fed by three 150kW chargers.
So, it was great to rub shoulders with Dame Sarah Storey at our recent Decarbonisation Summit in Manchester. She was in attendance as Greater Manchester's new active travel commissioner and as the winner of no less than 17 gold medals in the Paralympics; she knows a thing or two about taking on big challenges!
Enlightened places like Manchester want to crack on with net zero themselves – they are not waiting to be told what to do. Alongside Dame Sarah, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and his team are already taking huge strides towards making Manchester one of the UK’s greenest cities. Last year, the city-region announced plans to become first in Britain to adopt an accelerated carbon reduction plan and committed to radically reducing carbon emissions by a million tonnes over three years.
At our Decarbonisation Summit, we explained our plans to create large charging bays, which are suitable for mobility vehicles, as well as vans and bigger cars to help fast track the UK’s transition to EV. We also want this to be a key consideration for our customers and partners when they install charging points.
We need landowners such as local authorities and businesses to work with us to establish not only locations for EV infrastructure but also where there is suitable land to put it in place. Land use and availability is a key focus for us; with the first 17 hubs being rolled out by the end of this year.
At our Decarbonisation Summit we also showed a model of what could be the ‘EV Hub of the future’ given its canopy is made from recycled wind turbine blades. The idea came from our own DE employee innovation app called ‘iDEas’ and would use end-of-life wind turbine blades; stripping them back and cutting them into canopies that offer protection from the elements for users of EV charging hubs.
The project is still in early stages of development with costs of designing and converting blades into canopies still being explored to assess whether there is a viable business case. SSE Renewables is supporting us in the initial demonstration phase of the project. Should it progress, we have secured a broken section of blade material and we can explore sites for a proof concept build later this year.
Canopies and shelters are key to a positive user experience and fundamental to the design of EV hubs. With our plans to build 300 rapid charging hubs in the next five years, repurposing of blades could provide a unique solution. It’s a very exciting project – so watch this space!