UK telecoms company BT Group has announced it will conduct a two-year programme of technical and commercial pilots to convert or upgrade its street cabinets for electric vehicle (EV) charging units.
The pilots will be carried out by BT’s start-up and digital incubation team, known as ‘Etc.’, and provide insight into the viability to scale EV charging to more locations across its estate.
The cabinets are currently used for providing copper-based broadband and phone services, and will be decommissioned as the nationwide upgrade to full fibre progresses.
The first phase of the EV charging pilots is planned to start in Northern Ireland this autumn and will be expanded to the public with more pilot locations added across the UK later in the year.
According to BT, the pilot team will scope a range of different technical, commercial and operational considerations with bringing the EV chargepoint network online, including:
- Technical – including cabinet location, power availability, customer accessibility, digital customer experience and engineering considerations
- Civil planning – including location, local council engagement and physical accessibility
- Commercial – including public funding options, private investment, partnership, and wider financial modelling
- Operational – as a dedicated BT Group venture or in partnership with others
Etc.’s early projections suggest that, over time, as many as 60,000 of BT Group’s 90,000 cabinets may be suitable for upgrades to EV charging points; but neither the trials nor any potential scaling of the new EV charging network would present any change or disruption to the telecommunications services supported from the cabinets.
However, decisions on any further scaling on the programme will depend on the success of the two-year pilots.
“With the ban on sales of internal combustion engine vehicles coming in 2030, and with only around 45,000 public chargepoints today, the UK needs a massive upgrade to meet the needs of the EV revolution,” said Tom Guy, managing director of Etc. at BT Group.
“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.”
BT Group said it already purchases totally renewable electricity and will continue this through the EV charging pilots, which, if successful, could also contribute to decarbonising the UK’s transport system and supporting the British government’s plans to acheive net zero.
The UK government has previously announced ambitions to grow the number of UK chargepoints from around 45,000 today to 300,000 by 2030, committing £1.6bn in public funding to the effort.
Innovations and achievements such as this will highlighted and celebrated at the second annual CiTTi Awards on 21 November 2023 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Entries are now open and close on August 21. Visit www.cittiawards.co.uk to learn more about this unmissable event for the UK’s transportation sector!