Gridserve is bidding to create a national network of electric vehicle charging networks, professing to do for EV charging what Amazon has done for online retail.

The renewables and battery storage developer has unveiled plans to develop ‘Electric Forecourts’ up and down the country to offer EV drivers a “totally new customer-focused charging, retail and services offering”.

Toddington Harper, chief executive at Gridserve, said the company’s plan was to make EV charging “simple, price competitive and [with] a great customer experience”.

Unveiling the plans yesterday at the EV Infrastructure Summit, Harper said that the forecourts will closely resemble existing petrol stations, featuring a number of rapid EV chargers alongside retail opportunities for consumers while their vehicles are charging.

He added a number of criteria that Gridserve was aiming to meet, such as having the requisite infrastructure to keep charge times down to a maximum of 30 minutes – 10 minutes in the future – and an uptime guarantee of at least 99% for each individual charging bay.

But perhaps most eye-catching was Harper’s stated aim of ensuring that the prices charged at Gridserve’s forecourts remained competitive with home charging.

Pricing has proven a contentious point in regards to public EV charging. When Shell announced its move into EV charging last year it revealed that after an introductory price of 25p/kWh, it would be charging 49p/kWh at its EV charging bays in comparison to the 30p/kWh tariff maintained by Ecotricity for its Electric Highway chargers.

If Gridserve was to keep costs competitive with that of home charging – the average cost per kilowatt hour in the UK is around 15 pence – its forecourts would stand to radically undercut its competitors.

Harper explained that it would aim to keep costs down by ensuring locally generated renewable power was sourced, and by ‘stacking’ revenues using the developed infrastructure. No specific details were disclosed, but in co-locating the EV chargers with battery storage, the sites could generate additional revenues through providing flexibility services to the grid.

Gridserve will also partner with retailers, developers and land owners to bring its Electric Forecourts to market, and intends to have its first forecourt open within a year.

Also high on Gridserve’s agenda is the ease of use, with Harper explaining at the summit that he was motivated to develop the forecourts venture after experiencing difficulty in travelling from England to France in an electric car.

“We want to make it extremely easy to have an electric vehicle… [and] take away the fear,” he said.

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