Gridserve opens Electric Forecourt charging hub in Norwich
The Norwich Electric Forecourt features 36 ultra-rapid chargers, more than doubling the number of high-powered charging points in the region
Gridserve, the company behind the Electric Highway charging network, has opened its first ‘Compact Electric Forecourt’ in Norwich. The new location features a total of 36 rapid-charging points, including eight Tesla Superchargers and 22 units capable of 350kW charging speeds.
The opening of the Norwich Electric Forecourt more than doubles the number of high-powered EV chargers in the region. The proportions of EV charging points per person in the East of England lags behind the UK average of 42 chargers per 100,000 people having just 29 chargers per 100,000 people – roughly one point per 3,448 people.
The Norwich Electric Forecourt, located at Broadland Gate Business Park in Postwick, is supplied with 100% renewable energy, and features amenities like a Costa Coffee and M&S Food, plus bookable meeting pods. Gridserve hopes its new charging hub will become an “EV experience destination”, with visitors able to learn about electric vehicle ownership, explore EV leasing options with Gridserve, and even test drive electric cars while at the site.
Gridserve's Electric Forecourt at Gatwick Airport will be the next to open in autumn 2022. Located on the Ring Road South approach to the airport's South Terminal and next to the M23 motorway, the Gatwick site will enable 36 EVs to charge simultaneously. Multiple charging connectors will cater for all types of electric cars. There'll be a cafe, lounge, supermarket and children’s play area, too.
Planning permission has also been granted for further Electric Forecourts in Uckfield, Gateshead, Plymouth and Stevenage, while work is underway to secure permission for an additional 30 sites in the near future. By 2025, Gridserve is planning to have a total of 100 Electric Forecourts in operation around the UK. Each of will feature a range of retail outlets, including WH Smith, Costa, Post Office and the grocery Booths.
Separate to the Electric Forecourts, Gridserve successfully replaced all of the Electric Highway 300+ motorway charging points, less than a year after it acquired the network from former owner Ecotricity in mid-2021. You can read more about the Electric Highway in our guide.
Gridserve Electric Forecourt Braintree
Gridserve's first Electric Forecourt in Braintree, Essex, opened to the public on the morning of 7 December 2020, offering simultaneous charging for 30 vehicles, plus a building with food outlets, shops and an electric vehicle education centre. It has chargers supplied by ABB, comprising 12 350kW CCS units, 12 90kW CCS and CHAdeMO units and six 22kW Type 2 units. Customers are charged 24p per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for charging. In addition, there are six Tesla Superchargers.
Customers aren’t required to have an account, and the Electric Forecourt has been designed to be as simple to use as possible. You plug in, tap your contactless card, smartwatch or phone on the card reader mounted on each point and drive away once you've finished charging. In time, Gridserve will roll out an app, while membership options could drive down the cost per kWh further. Gridserve will also roll out 'plug and charge' technology. Once set up, this will allow chargers and vehicles to recognise each other, meaning charging costs will be debited automatically from the user's account.
Above the shops sits an education centre and a lounge with free wi-fi, bookable meeting pods and a wellness centre, featuring exercise bikes that can generate electricity that's fed back to the chargers. While the chargers are available 24 hours a day, the retail units and meeting rooms are open from 6am to 10pm.
The Braintree site, which is around 17 miles from the M11 and Stansted Airport and a similar distance from Colchester and Chelmsford, has been net-carbon-neutral from the start. Gridserve has acquired a 10MWp (megawatt peak) solar farm with a six-megawatt battery near Flitwick, Bedfordshire, which provide net-zero-carbon energy. In addition, there are 200KWp (kilowatt peak) solar panels on the Braintree site.
Many of these panels, which feature photovoltaic cells on both sides to maximise the amount of energy generated, form shelters above the main rows of chargers. Each Electric Forecourt will be futureproof, allowing Gridserve to add more chargers and adapt to a changing market. Its on-site energy storage can even supply power equivalent to 24,000 miles of charging in the event of a power outage.
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