Ecotricity announces new ‘electric highway’ for electric vehicle recharging in the UK

27 Jul 2011

Claiming it’s the world’s first national charging network, Ecotricity in the UK has revealed plans for a new ‘electric highway’ that will allow electric car users to make journeys the length and breadth of Britain and help get the country’s electric car revolution moving.

While there are just 2,000 pure electric vehicles on the UK’s roads at the minute, green energy firm Ecotricity is hoping its new electric charging network, which it is terming the ‘electric highway’, will open up Britons to the eco-friendly and pocket-friendly credentials of electric vehicle driving, as well as the possibilities for making longer journeys via electric cars.

Right now, there are about 400 charging points in cities around the UK, with 250 of these concentrated in London, and belonging to various networks.

Ecotricity is teaming up with motorway service station company Welcome Break to install the first battery recharging points at its South Mimms service station in July. The first phase of the network, which will be spread across 12 motorway services, is set to be ready by September. Within 18 months, Ecotricity says all 27 Welcome Break motorway stations will have charging points.

When its network is completed, Ecotricity predicts both electric car users and motorbike riders will be able to travel from London to Edinburgh or Exeter, helping to eliminate one of the main barriers it claims people in the UK have when contemplating going down the electric vehicle route – that of ‘range anxiety’.

The company says every charging point will be powered by 100pc green energy created at Ecotricity’s wind and solar parks across the UK.

It says people will be able to ‘top-up’ their electric car batteries in 20 minutes using rapid recharge points (32A supply) or fully charge them in two hours. For people who are staying overnight at motorway service hotels, they will be able to fully charge their electric car batteries overnight via a 13A supply.

Getting Britain’s electric car revolution moving

“Until now, charging posts have all been in city centres like London, but this is where you need them the least. 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,” said Ecotricity founder Dale Vince.

“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).

“We consume 25m barrels of oil every year in the UK to do the 250bn miles we drive every year. But we could power all that with 10,000 of today’s windmills, or just 5,000 of tomorrow’s,” he added.

As well as its Welcome Break network, Ecotricity has also installed a charging post at its windmill next to the M4 motorway in Reading.

The Nemesis car – aiming to impress Jeremy Clarkson

Nemesis car UK

Dale Vince founder of Ecotricity, pictured with the Nemesis wind-powered sports car

Last year, Ecotricity also launched the Nemesis, a wind-powered sports car that can reach 0 to 100m/ph in 8.5 seconds, achieving a top speed of 170m/ph. A team of ex-Formula 1 engineers created the car, with the the brief given to them at the time that the car would “blow the socks off” Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

The Nemesis will drive from Land’s End to John O’ Groats this summer.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic