UK Opens Free, Solar-powered Plug-in Vehicle Charging Network

UK Opens Free, Solar-powered Plug-in Vehicle Charging Network

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UK electric cars get free solar charging-Ecotricity photo

For first time electric vehicles will be able to travel the length and breadth of Britain using the world’s first solar national charging network at motorway service stations across the country.

According to Ecotricity, the company that installed the network, range anxiety has now been removed from the electric vehicle equation in the UK.

Every charging post will be powered with 100% green energy made at Ecotricity’s wind and solar parks across the UK, and means that electric car drivers (and motorcyclists) will be able to drive from London to Edinburgh or Exeter completely free and with vastly reduced emissions.

The first such station has been installed at Welcome Break’s South Mimms services [at the Junction of the M1 and M25], and the first phase of the network spread across 12 motorway services will be completed by September. Each post will be located outside the main entrance, with two sockets that can be accessed by registering for a free swipecard. Within 18 months all 27 Welcome Break motorway services will have charging points.

Electric cars can get a quick charge in just 20 minutes using rapid recharge points (32A supply) or fully charge in two hours; while those using the slower (13A supply) will be able to recharge fully if staying overnight at motorway service hotels.

“Until now, charging posts have all been in city centres like London, but this is where you need them the least,” said Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity. “Statistics show that it’s not in towns and cities where electric cars need to recharge, but on longer journeys between cities – and that means motorways.”

“We’re creating the infrastructure to get Britain’s electric car revolution moving. This marks the beginning of the end for the old combustion engine. With world oil prices going through the roof, you’ll now be able to get around Britain using only the power of the wind. It costs 1p a mile in an electric vehicle, compared with 10p in a petrol car (at today’s oil prices).

map of electric car charging network in UKWelcome Breaks operate throughout the UK with locations as far afield as Scotland and down to the south-west and south-east of England, serving 80 million customers a year.

A driver doing a year’s typical 12,000 miles of motoring could save almost £2000 annually in petrol costs at today’s prices, and cut around 2500kg in CO2 emissions.

Electric car owners who want to register for a free swipe card can visit Ecotricity’s website.

As well as its Welcome Break network, Ecotricity has also installed a charging post at its windmill next to the M4 motorway in Reading. It is the first charge post to be powered directly from a windmill.

2011 has been dubbed ‘The Year of the Electric Car’, with major manufacturers launching all-electric mass-market models including the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi MIEV and Peugeot iOn. Ford will also launch an all-electric version of its Ford Focus, on sale in 2013.