Steet light EV charge points have been installed in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, with a trial of three units a first for the capital.
The charge point lamps have been placed in Onslow Gardens, Kensington, and are designed to be used by EV drivers that previously charged at a nearby shopping centre, but who can now park and plug in at the kerb side.
The street lights have been retro-fitted with charging technology, with UK Power Networks and Ubritricity undertaking the work. Local residents use the smart cables, which monitor how much energy is used, with a bill sent to the driver either via their computer or smart phone.
The trial attempts to combat the problem found in inner city areas with a lack of off-street parking available, a significant factor in potential EV ownership. One third of households in outer London have no access to off-street parking though this number rises to 46 per cent in central London, in boroughs such as Kensington and Chelsea.
Councillor Tim Coleridge, the Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “A growing number of residents have made enquiries about the availability of electric vehicle charging points here in Kensington and Chelsea.
“The use of street lights as charging points provides electric vehicle owners and users charging opportunities closer to where they live and work. If this trial is successful we will look at exploring other opportunities for using street lights in this way.”
Mark Burton, from UK Power Networks, said: “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.”
UK Power Networks agreed to upgraded fuses at the first three points to allow more electricity to be safely drawn from the cable, making sure local electricity supplies remain safe and reliable.
Knut Hechtfischer, founder of Ubitricity, said: “UK Power Networks has been very supportive and helpful in facilitating some of the very first London based trials of Ubitricity’s unique and innovative EV charging technology. 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.
“The Kensington and Chelsea trial could not have happened without the support of UK Power Networks and the Royal Borough. The trial means that local residents can for the very first time charge right outside their front door. In one case this has removed the need for driving over to a large shopping centre once a week to charge, reducing both congestion and electricity consumption.”
In December the Department for Transport’s On Street Residential Grant Scheme (£2.5m), launched guidance for Local Authorities UK-wide to apply for funding for provision of charge points in residential areas, where there is a lack of off-street parking.