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BT to trial converting old street cabinets into EV charge points

BT’s green street cabinets are a very familiar sight – even if most of us don’t really know what they are – but they will soon become obsolete and BT are looking at an innovative way of repurposing them: turning them into EV charge points.

The cabinets are currently used for providing phone services and broadband but will be decommissioned as the country is upgraded to full fibre. 

BT’s start-up and digital incubation team, Etc., will spend the next two years, conducting pilots to explore the viability of scaling EV charging to more locations across its estate.  

The first phase of the EV charging pilots is planned to start in Northern Ireland in Autumn of this year, with more pilot locations added across the UK later in the year. 

The pilot will investigate a range of different technical, commercial and operational considerations such as power availability, customer accessibility, funding options and whether it is a solely BT venture or in partnerships with other operators 

Etc.’s early projections suggest that, over time, as many as 60,000 of the Group’s 90,000 cabinets may be suitable for upgrades to EV charging points; but they emphasise that neither the trials nor any potential scaling of the network would present any change or disruption to the telecommunications services supported from the cabinets. 

Tom Guy, Managing Director, Etc. at BT Group said: ‘With the ban on sales of internal combustion engine vehicles coming in 2030, and with only around 45,000 public charge points today, the UK needs a massive upgrade to meet the needs of the EV revolution.

‘We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect for good in a whole new way by innovating around our cabinet infrastructure. The pilots are critical for the team to work through the assessment and establish effective technical, commercial and operational routes to market over the next two years.’

The UK Government has announced ambitions to grow the number of UK charge points from around 45,000 today to 300,000 by 2030, committing £1.6 billion in public funding to the effort. 

Ben Nelmes, CEO, New Automotive, said: ‘The need for more EV charging represents an exciting business opportunity, so it is great to see BT Group announcing plans that could play a key role in growing the number of charge points and helping enable more people to make the switch to an electric car.’

Helen Clarkson, CEO at Climate Group, said: “’We’re seeing more and more ambitious commitments from corporates to grow their EV fleets in the coming years. Programmes like BT Group’s are an incentive for other businesses and drivers to go electric. But we need the UK government to play its part – wider availability of charge points right across the country, not just in London, will help build confidence that switching to an EV is the right option.’

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