An Innovate UK trial to reduce clutter for on-street electric vehicle (EV) charging has gone live.

The first chargepoints have been installed as part of the Subsurface Technology for Electric Pathways (STEP) project, funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) and delivered by Innovate UK.

The trial uses “flat & flush” chargepoints created by Trojan Energy that slot into the pavement with EV owners given a portable lance to connect. The system is designed to reduce street furniture and has been designed with input from Disability Rights UK.

The trail will see 150 charegpoints installed across the London boroughs of Brent and Camden, with the first five fitted in Mortimer Road this week.

The technology allows 15 chargepoints to be installed in parallel from one network connection, provided by UK Power Networks.

Over 140 EV drivers have already signed up to test the technology in the full trial running from September this year to March 2022. A further 75 have signed up as “prospective” EV customers, who intend to adopt an EV in the near future.

As part of the trial, Octopus Energy is offering the opportunity for customers to merge their car charging costs with their home energy bill through its EV roaming service, the Electric Juice Network.

The project has raised more than £1 million in private funding which unlocked £3 million from Innovate UK.

Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “Innovation is key to creating cleaner, greener local communities – not only in the capital, but right across the country.

“This project is a great example of how technology is being used to solve a real-world problem to ensure that our EV infrastructure fits in seamlessly in our local towns and cities. This is crucial as we build back greener and encourage more people to make the switch, which is why I’m delighted this government is backing its delivery.”

Strategic energy consultancy Element Energy is leading the project and has designed a survey with the Institute of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds to evaluate its success.

Results from the pre-trial survey suggest that 50 per cent of EV driver participants find their current charging situation inconvenient and are in need of a better solution, with over 70 per cent stating that the availability of local charging points was an important factor for their EV purchase.

Sarah Clements, principal consultant at Element Energy and the project manager, said: “The sheer volume of participants signed up to this trial demonstrates the crucial need for on-street charging in residential areas.

“STEP is tackling a key barrier to EV uptake by providing convenient access to chargers for those that cannot charge at home. One aspect we are particularly keen to understand is whether deployment of this on-street technology will give confidence to local consumers to upgrade to EV – an important policy focus in the UK today.”

Utility Week profiled the project last year.

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