UK's first all-electric charging station opens, with plans for 100 more

Published 09 December 2020

The UK’s first all-electric car charging station has opened near Braintree, Essex - consisting of 36 electric vehicle chargers that'll deliver up to 350kW of power. 

The Braintree Electric Forecourt is operated by Gridserve, who says it represents a major breakthrough for the expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in the UK. The location consists of 36 electric vehicle chargers, with power outputs ranging from 7kW to 350kW. That’s enough to provide 200 miles of range in 20 minutes, according to Gridserve.

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With an initial cost of 24p per kWh of energy, the company estimates an average-sized electric vehicle can be charged from 20 to 80 per cent for under £10 for an average-size EV. Gridserve claims these are the lowest ultra-high power charging rates on the market today. The firm also has plans to introduce a tiered pricing structure in the future. 

The site is the first of over 100 Electric Forecourts being built by Gridserve over the next five years, with aims to make driving an EV  an "enjoyable, ultra-convenient and stress-free experience".

The station’s chargers draw power from renewable sources, including solar panels installed on the station’s canopies and the company’s network of hybrid solar farms. There’s also a 6MWh battery onsite to help balance the supply of power during peak times. According to Gridserve, "on windy winter nights the battery can store enough energy to drive 24,000 miles in electric vehicles the following day."


The station opened less than a month after Boris Johnson announced plans for the UK to ban the sale of new combustion engine vehicles by 2030.  

While vehicles charge, drivers can also browse a comprehensive retail space, with brands including WHSmith, Costa Coffee, Booths, Post Office and Gourmade. The facility also includes a waiting lounge, free superfast WiFi, high-end washrooms, dedicated kid's area, wellbeing area with exercise bikes that generate electricity, and business meeting room pods.

The Electric Forecourt is also designed to help people make the process of switching to electric vehicles as straightforward as possible. The upper floor of the on-site building showcases the latest electric vehicles, and there are multiple digitals screens that help people learn about and source electric vehicles.

In partnership with Hitachi Capital, Gridserve has also launched Electric Vehicle Solutions - the UK’s first net zero electric vehicle leasing business. The service is designed to bring the cost of driving electric well below that of petrol or diesel cars, and minimise the environmental impact of EVs. Net zero carbon energy is included in monthly leasing payments, meaning drivers can charge at Electric Forecourts without paying any additional costs.

Toddington Harper, Founder and CEO of Grideserve, said: "Together with our charging-included electric vehicle leasing business, that we are also launching today in partnership with Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC, people now have the full confidence to make the transition to an electric vehicle, knowing that charging is in-hand, and it’s actually less expensive to use an electric car than a petrol or diesel alternative."


Engineer Andy    on 9 December 2020

I'd love to know how they believe they can make their money back any time soon, given how slow (even with fast chargers, which nowhere near all EVs can take advantage of) charging is compared to filling up with petrol or diesel (4x as much minimum), and the numbers of customers per day.

Note also that the cost of the elctricity is about 50-60% more than most domestic rates. I bet they'll also be a premium on buying things at those shops, just like you experience for most items sold at petrol stations and especially motorway service stations.

The difference is this station won't make its money back by selling drivers a Mars bar, and will have to flog A LOT of other stuff at inflated prices to pay back the money spent building it all and keeping it all ok.

They'd better hope that theres a lot of EV owners in the Braintree area or who pass by all the time. Odd location for it in my view - not near enough the M25 and even 10 miles away from Stansted airport and not on a major A road.

We'll see.

   on 14 December 2020

They probably got a crappy brownfield site at a major subsidy being where it is to see how uptake really pans out, an experiment at best. 36 chargers at min 20mins, probably more like an hour due to selfish people browsing & drinking coffee etc it doesn't need Rachel Riley to figure out the maths don't add up...

I hope something like this works for proper EV use as I can't trust this government to implement anything remotely suitable for long distance i.c.e. free driving.

Martin Emm    on 14 December 2020

It is a chicken and egg issue.

The backing of Hitachi Capital is critical since this is a long term project. If they meet their target of 100 stations within 5 years the presence of these will stimulate the urge to swap over to electric faster than would otherwise been the case. 2030 is not that far away, it creeps up quickly. Electric car sales are beginning to increase now.

The big issue for me is the next new battery that will double the current range available. Keep hearing of this potential but no evidence that it is really coming soon ! When it does I would be keen to have our 2nd car as electric, provided prices moderate asap.

GTC20th    on 14 December 2020

Certainly a move in the right direction, but given the 80% charge time of around 45 minutes I can't see their turnover being great. The bottom line is that battery technology needs to improve rapidly, battery manufacture needs to grow in capacity, EVs need to come down in price, and they need to have a minimum realistic range of 300 miles before uptake increases. Manufacturers need to stop relying on buyers going into debt with PCPs and start working with us rather than trying to maintain their current profit margins. If that doesn't happen in the next 5 years I can see demand for petrol and hybrid cars rocketing coming up to 2030. Let's hope they get the finger out.

aethelwulf    on 14 December 2020

Not convinced. I shall stick with ICE and as I keep y cars a long time, I am running a 2005 Mondeo estate 2L petrol and a 2010 Piccanto, I shall not need electric cars for a long time. Clearly, I will scarp the Mondy for a newer ICE before 2030 and the Piccanto just beofre 2030.
If these electric charging stations proliferate I suspect they will encourgae electric car sales. But will these staions be working ( many are not now) and will the loony Boris have cut electric suplies by then listening to his girlfriend?

Geoffrey Brightwell    on 15 December 2020

Have you not seen the road tax hike for the next rises , my present car is £150 for the year, if I bought the same model next year with the same engine it will be £540, they will price us all out of the market by 2030 and besides that, what about all these people who live in terraced house and those without garages

robert battley    on 14 December 2020

yes yes yes i agree with everyones comments it all seems very congenial and easy going for now but what will it be like if there was 20 or 30 million evs on the road , 30 to 40 mins charging as apposed to around 5 or 6 mins fuel top up and people dont go shopping and disapear for god knows how long which cant happen in a petrol station, its very much cart before horse stuff. i have a park and ride close by with charging points they are always all used and where are the owners , off on a bus to the city for various reasons so much for a 40 min top up , ive also noticed charging points make very conveinent parking places even if you dont need a charge just plug in anyway nobody will know the difference mmmm how many people are getting a little red in the may have guest im not all in favour of an ev future i do wonder exactly where the powers that be will get the billions back from lost taxes on normal fuel there has got to be a kick in backside somewhere along the line remember these are the people that got the vast majority of us to use diesel , who are these people

   on 14 December 2020

By 2030 Boris and princess Nut Nut will be long gone and hopefully replaced by someone who is not a green nut. instead of spending all that money on Nut Nut projects, it would be better spent on making diesel and petrol cleaner, then there would be no reason to destroy peoples lives. Electric is not green, precious metals have to be dug out of the ground in far off climes and transported thousands of miles to where the battery makers live, then they have to be disposed of when they die. and when the UK has finally got rid of the 0.2% of carbon it produces, China will still be churning out the 30% it produces or even more after it has finished it's 300 coal fired Power stations. But never mind, you can tell the mother whose child froze to death that at least we have done our bit to save the World.

philthunder    on 15 December 2020

Absolute ripoff. That looks like a good profit margin with the average household paying less than 15p/kWh. With no delivery worries, a large portion self generated and no storage worries. I'm sure they are paying a lot less than domestic rates for their electricity. Captive customers waiting while charging up and probably motorway service charges, for refreshments.

Edited by philthunder on 15/12/2020 at 13:02

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