Gridserve has unveiled plans for a £1 billion network of superfast electric vehicle (EV) charging stations powered by solar farms and batteries.

The company intends to build 100 “electric forecourts” across the UK over the next five years.

The forecourts will typically include 24 bays with chargers rated at up to 500kW for cars and vans and multiple megawatts for lorries and buses.

As the name suggests, they will feature a range of facilities including coffee shops, convenience stores and “airport-style” waiting lounges with high-speed internet access. A new queuing system will be used to minimise waiting times and drivers will be able to reserve charging slots in advance though a software app.

The charging stations will be supplied by a series of solar farms with batteries also being developed by Gridserve. The combined capacity of the solar farms is eventually expected to surpass 1GW.

The company recently signed a £62 million deal with Warrington Borough Council to build the first two, near York and Hull. Construction of the former has already begun and is expected to be completed by October. Work on charging stations at both sites is scheduled to commence before the end of 2019.

Batteries will also be installed at those charging stations not directly connected to the solar farms to the minimise the size, and therefore cost, of the required grid connections.

“We plan to make charging electric vehicles as easy as using petrol stations,” said Gridserve chief executive and co-founder, Toddington Harper. “The latest generation of electric vehicles are awesome, and ready for mainstream adoption, but drivers still worry about if or where they can charge, how long it will take, and what it will cost.

“We plan to eliminate any range or charging anxiety by building a UK-wide network of customer-focussed, brand new electric forecourts that will make it easier and cheaper to use an electric vehicle than a petrol or diesel alternative.

“Within five years we plan to have more than 100 electric forecourts in use, with each supported by solar energy and battery storage. This infrastructure will accelerate the electric vehicle revolution, serve the grid, and help the UK meet climate and clean air targets.”

Artist’s impression

Source: Gridserve and Arup

Gridserve has partnered with Chargepoint to build the new network. It’s managing director for Europe, Christopher Burghardt, said: “The electric mobility revolution is upon us and Chargepoint continues to work to help create an open and accessible network that enables drivers to enjoy an effortless charging experience everywhere they live, work and play throughout Europe.

“Chargepoint is committed to collaborating with partners like Gridserve to build out the EV charging network of tomorrow and make driving electric vehicles more accessible and seamless than ever. Gridserve’s electric forecourts bring the driver experience to the fore, which will be the key to make electric travel throughout the UK easier.”

Gridserve has already secured sites for 80 charging stations located on busy roads close to towns and cities and with suitable access to the power grid.