Researchers model battery for UK’s first ‘electric forecourt’

Researchers are helping to design the UK’s first all-electric EV charging station to build up the UK’s charging network.

The demo ‘electric forecourt’, being built in Braintree, Essex by the energy company Gridserve, and will feature 24 ultra-fast charging bays capable of recharging an EV in less than half an hour.

Brunel University London is modelling the forecourt’s main 5 megawatt (MW) electric battery, which will be connected to the national grid.

It is hoped that the forecourt will be the first of 100 such sites to become operational over the next five years. If successful, they could even eventually replace traditional petrol stations.

‘We’ll be modelling the battery and its performance with respect to the ebb and flow of the numbers of drivers arriving throughout the day,’ said Dr Colin Axon, a senior lecturer for Brunel’s Institute of Energy Futures.

‘The challenge is to determine how the batteries deteriorate in real-world conditions as this start-stop regime is not ideal for preserving the life of a battery. But of course, that’s how it needs to be used – now we need to see how that peaky-ness of demand affects the battery.’

While the first ‘electric forecourt’ is already well underway, Brunel’s work will help to inform the design of subsequent sites, with the next two expected to be in Hull and York.

The lifespan of the forecourt’s electric battery will determine how viable the forecourts will be, especially in urban locations where demand will be high and space is at a premium.

Brunel is set to hire a new researcher for the 18-month project to help them complete the work.

‘The site at Braintree is located on the edge of town, close to a main road. But in towns and cities you haven’t got all this space, and people won’t want to drive to the periphery to charge their cars,’ said Dr Axon.

‘In those circumstances, the modelling we do might inform how small a battery you can use and still maintain the level of service expected by EV drivers.’

Earlier this month, the Science and Technology committee urged the government to speed up the deployment of EV charge points to help the UK hit its climate targets.

The cross-party group of MPs recommended working with public services and owners of public land, such as schools and hospitals, to obtain space for charging points.

Photo Credit – Brunel University London