New EV charging technology trialled in London

Street lights in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, West London, are being converted into charge points for electric vehicles in a trial of new technology developed by German company Ubitricity.

The installation allows two local residents to charge their vehicles from a street light near their front door, and receive accurate bills for the electricity used via their smartphone or home PC. The drivers previously had to drive to a nearby shopping centre to charge.

Announcing the trial last week, UK Power Networks said that it could pave the way for greater use of electric vehicles and tackle air pollution in London by allowing drivers to conveniently charge their vehicles closer to home overnight. In outer London, one in three households (33%) have no access to off-street parking to charge an EV, and in inner London this rises to almost half (46%).

UK Power Networks upgraded the fuses at three street lights to allow more electricity to be safely drawn from the cable.

Mark Burton, from UK Power Networks, commented: “We are delighted to work with the Royal Borough and Ubitricity on a trial to allow more EVs to charge via street lighting columns connected to our network. This technology avoids the need to build new electricity network and makes better use of the cables, particularly in the daytime when the lights are switched off.

“This solution means we can monitor how much electricity is being used in order to maintain reliable electricity supplies as more EVs connect to our networks. It should also release more parking spaces currently set aside as dedicated EV charging bays, result in less street furniture and fewer excavations to install new charging points.”

Knut Hechtfischer, founder of Ubitricity, added: “Utilising existing street lighting assets to provide low power residential smart charging is a key component of any council’s residential on-street EV charging solution. Turning an existing street light into a charge point can be done in an hour or even less.”

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