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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Going electric

Electric cars still have huge problems, not least the cost, weight and longevity of the batteries (and that is before I mention the precious metals dug up in important wildernesses to make them), but for me and many others living in terraced housing, the biggest issue has to be how we can regularly recharge them overnight.

That is why I am intrigued by the pilot scheme in north west London, where an “electric avenue” has been developed by converting lamppost into chargers for battery-powered cars.

The Times says that, in what is thought to be the first of its kind, a street in the capital has been transformed into a hub for the vehicles to promote their use in residential areas. Twenty-four lampposts over a half-mile stretch of Sutherland Avenue in Maida Vale, northwest London, have been converted to contain charge points, allowing residents without driveways to power up electric vehicles overnight:

The project, led by Siemens, which was completed yesterday, is the first time a street has been fully converted to cater for on-street car charging.

The conversion comes amid concerns that a perceived shortage of public chargers may be preventing many motorists from ditching petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric vehicles. The majority of charging is done at home but this can be practically impossible for many people living in flats without a dedicated parking space or homeowners on residential streets without their own driveway.

Figures published this month showed that 6,500 new electric cars were sold in the first two months of this year, more than triple the number in the same period in 2019. However, they still make up only 2.9 per cent of new cars in the UK and experts say that a significant upsurge in charging infrastructure is needed to push sales.

The paper adds that most lampposts use new energy efficient LEDs, which means that additional energy can be fed from the supply without turning off the street light. All charging equipment is housed within the post and motorists plug in vehicles to a power point. Charging wires are locked at each end, meaning that passers-by cannot disconnect vehicles. The 5.5kW chargers typically take eight to ten hours to charge a vehicle.

They say the system is designed for slow charging rather than the far more powerful rapid charge points that can power up a battery in only half an hour but require a significant upgrade to the supply.

If this can be replicated countrywide then there may well be a future for electric cars after all.
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