Current Affairs

Who is Gridserve?

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If you live in Essex or Norfolk, you’ve likely heard of Gridserve, the company which opened its first ‘Electric Forecourt’ in Braintree and is now expanding rapidly, including a recently opened site in Norwich and a facility close to Gatwick Airport opening soon. The Essex location became a destination for electric vehicle owners thanks to its ultra-fast chargers and convenient facilities, such as shops and even a Post Office. Now Gridserve has taken over Ecotricity’s ‘Electric Highway’ and plans many more electric forecourts around the country, including already gaining planning approval for sites in Plymouth in Devon and Basildon in Essex.

Electric Forecourts

While EV chargers have traditionally been found at motorway services, or in the car parks of other shops or shopping centres, Gridserve was one of the first charging providers in the UK to create a destination EV forecourt. Its first site was in Braintree, Essex, using a formula that “completely reimagines the EV charging experience” according to Toddington Harper, Gridserve’s Chief Executive. Along with 12 350kW chargers, 12 90kW chargers, 6 Tesla superchargers and 6 22kW chargers, the facility also offers office pods, a picnic spot, a dog walking area, shops, a café, and a Post Office. Charging at Gridservere Braintree also uses 100% renewable electricity, thanks to electricity supplied by a solar farm at nearby Clay Hill. The mission is to deliver sustainable power from “Sun-to-Wheel”. 

The second Electric Forecourt has now opened in Norwich, and highlights include 22 ultra-fast 350kW chargers able to individually add up to 100 miles of EV driving range in 5 minutes. This single installation has more than doubled the number of ultra-fast chargers in the region. Gridserve expects this single location to help boost low EV adoption around Norwich, where EVs currently only account for 1% of cars on the road, and there are just 29 chargers per 100,000 people, compared with 102 per 100,000 capita in places like London.

Later this year, London Gatwick Electric Forecourt is due to open on the Ring Road South approach to the Airport’s South Terminal, serving both drivers flying off to sunnier climes and the local community. 

Electric Highway and Electric Super Hubs

In July 2021, it was announced that the vital “Electric Highway” network of Ecotricity chargers at motorway services had been purchased by Gridserve. This was big news for EV owners who use their cars to travel further afield, and who have often run into trouble charging when they need a top-up most. During its first phase, Gridserve focussed on replacing the charging equipment with new kit and upgrading with contactless payment systems, and this was completed in spring 2022.

Now well into its second phase, Gridserve is creating ‘Electric Super Hubs’ at many service areas to rival the facilities at Tesla Superchargers. There are now 12 of these across the network, at Moto services as varied as Burton-in-Kendal in the north to Exeter in the south. These all offer between 6 and 12 350kW chargers, allowing most EVs to top up to 80% in less than half-an-hour. 

To make life more convenient for customers, every site has CCS and CHAdeMO connectors, 24-hour support, contactless payment and real-time status updates for charger usage which are shared with popular EV charging maps for easy viewing.

According to Gridserve, every kW of energy used by an EV charger is “netted off against a kW of zero-carbon solar energy put back into the grid by a Gridserve solar farm, creating a net zero carbon, low-cost transport system today.”

Gridserve Car Leasing

Gridserve also offers electric vehicle leasing, with several benefits offered to customers. The company plants 100 trees for every car leased and currently offers three months of free charging on the Gridserve Electric Highway. It’s also possible for customers to test drive EVs from its Electric Forecourt locations in Braintree and Norwich. These can be booked online and allow drivers to sample electric vehicles from a variety of different manufacturers, with back-to-back tests of different models and impartial advice.

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