EV Charging

BT Group installs first EV charger repurposed from street cabinet

Pilots aim is to extend usefulness of near end-of-life green street cabinets as EV charge points

Back in January, BT Group’s  start-up and Digital incubation team Etc. powered up its first EV charging unit built from a street cabinet traditionally used to store broadband and phone cabling.

Etc. has today, installed its first EV charge point in Haddington, East Lothian, as it prepares for a wider rollout across the UK.

The charger will be for the use of local residents, who will be able to charge their electric vehicles at no cost until the end of the trial period on May 31.

EV owners will also be able to connect their car to the app to get live updates on battery levels, estimated costs and charge times, and access to charging history at a glance. Throughout the pilots, BT Group will test elements ranging from the digital customer experience to engineering and technology choices, operational and commercial options.

Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for transport at Scottish Government, said: 

“This is an exciting and innovative development in the provision of electric vehicle charging so I’m really pleased that the first trial in the UK is taking place in East Lothian. 

“This government is committed to supporting people to make the switch from petrol and diesel vehicles, and our vision for Scotland’s future public EV charging network highlights the need for private sector finance and delivery to build on our significant investment in the network to date.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing more partnership working like this as we continue to help people in Scotland to make greener transport choices.”

This marks the first step in the rollout of new technical trials, exploring the potential to upgrade up to 60,000 cabinets to help meet government sustainability targets and decarbonise the transport system in the UK.

Developed to help solve EV charging infrastructure needs by repurposing existing street furniture, the pilots will explore how this solution could be scaled to address the lack of chargers on UK roads.

BT Group has identified up to 4,800 street cabinets that could be used for potential upgrade in Scotland to meet increasing demand.

Through the trials, Etc. will scope a range of different technical, commercial and operational considerations with bringing this EV charge point network online, including:

  • Technical – cabinet location, power availability, customer accessibility, digital customer experience and engineering considerations
  • Civil planning – location, local council engagement, permissions and physical accessibility
  • Commercial – public funding options, private investment, partnership, and wider financial modelling to establish a route to commercial benefit for the Group
  • Operational – as a dedicated BT Group venture or in partnership with others

The charging solution works by retrofitting the cabinets with a device that enables renewable energy to be shared to a charge point alongside the existing broadband service with no need to create a new power connection.

EV charging can be deployed to cabinets that are in-use for current copper broadband services, or in those due for retirement, depending on the space and power available to the unit. Once the cabinet is no longer needed for broadband, as nationwide full fibre rollout progresses, the broadband equipment is recycled, and additional EV charge points can be added.

This allows re-use of existing infrastructure while deploying more charge points at pace.

Tom Guy, managing director, Etc. at BT Group, added:

“We are delighted to launch the first phase of our pilots in Haddington, East Lothian working with the local council, to provide this electric vehicle charging point for local residents.

“Our research shows that 78% of petrol and diesel drivers see not being able to conveniently charge an EV as a key  barrier to purchasing one.  We want this to change. 

“It’s critical that we all start to play our part in looking at existing infrastructure to drive innovation at speed to support government set sustainability targets.  We’re proud to be partnering with local councils across the UK as part of this trial, which presents a unique opportunity to tap into existing assets to drive the important transition to electrification in the UK.”

The next BT Group Electric Vehicle charging trial location will focus next on West Yorkshire, with the business hoping to roll the trial out to up to 600 sites across the UK.

Users can access the charge point  by downloading the trial app from the App Store or Google Play Store.

Download from Play Store

evve charge
Version: 1.1.2
Updated: April 11, 2024
Category: Maps & Navigations
Requirements: Android 5.1+
Price: Free
Developer: EE
Contains Ads: No
In-App Purchases: No
Family Sharing: No

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Download on App Store

evve charge
Version: 1.1.1
Updated: April 16, 2024
Category: EV Charging
Requirements: iOS 13.0+
Price: Free
Developer: EE
Contains Ads: No
In-App Purchases: No
Family Sharing: No

QR Code