WPD project supports rapid EV charging on motorways

Charging your electric vehicle at motorway service stations could become quicker and easier in future, thanks to a breakthrough rapid charging solution developed by Western Power Distribution (WPD).

WPD’s  ‘Take Charge’ project aims not only to make rapid charging at motorway service stations easier for both service station operators and customers, but could save tens of millions of pounds too.

The company is investing more than £1million in the project to design, test and trial new technology to deliver the electrical capacity required for rapid EV chargers to be installed at service stations. WPD predict this latest innovation will mean a saving of almost £0.5m per site installation compared to the technology currently used. This would represent a total saving of £33.3m across the UK if it were to be rolled out to 75% of existing service stations.

The network operator has created a standardised, pre-constructed and pre-packaged ‘one size fits all’ solution that will provide up to 20MVA of capacity, ensuring that service station customers can simultaneously charge their vehicles at peak time. Rather than building additional complex infrastructure that requires a lot of space, the project will develop “plug and play” components which can easily and quickly deliver capacity. This will provide the capacity for around 40 rapid chargers per service station site.

The solution is currently at the design stage with the build due to start in October 2020. The project is being launched in conjunction with the UK’s largest motorway services operator Moto and is aiming to get rapid charging up and running at Moto’s Exeter service station by March 2021. The installation will be trialled over a six-month period to evaluate the performance of the new solution, the benefits generated and the associated learning.

Commenting on the project, WPD’s DSO development manager Paul Jewell said: “Government and industry have long identified the importance of making widespread rapid charging available at service stations. If we are to encourage the take up of EVs, we need to make charging in all scenarios easier and quicker. Our Take Charge project provides a ready-made solution for the installation of rapid chargers at service stations. Not only will the project cut costs, but it will make the installation of rapid chargers easier across the whole of the UK.

“Ultimately it is our hope that this project will ensure that EV drivers on journeys of all lengths are never far away from a rapid charger and that service stations have the capacity required to meet expected demand.”

Moto chief executive Ken McMeikan commented: “I am delighted to be working in partnership with Western Power Distribution on this critically important investment for the future. The pace that motorists are going to switch to electric vehicles is only going to increase and we aim to transform their experience through the addition of even faster chargers across our sites.”

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