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Charging trifecta: fast, flexible, future-proof

Case Study: Bedford Borough Council

Deployment of reliable on-street charging infrastructure to support residents without driveways
CK Bedford v2

Video - Interview of the Elected Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, MBE

Project Overview 

Bedford Borough Council made a successful bid for over £96,000 to the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) to install 30 on-street residential electric vehicle charging points (EVCPs). The EVCPs were installed in five streets across Bedford as part of the Council’s on-going efforts to support Bedford Borough’s transition to greener transport while working to improve local air quality.

The Council project team selected Connected Kerb (CK) after issuing a tender through the Kent Commercial Services framework. CK were commissioned to deploy reliable, technologically advanced charging infrastructure with an aim to actively encourage resident transition to electric vehicles (EVs).

The challenge: providing charging infrastructure for residents without off-street parking while successfully meeting tight installation timeframes.

Currently, a lack of charging solutions for UK residents without driveways or the ability to install a home charger, some 60% of the population, is a major barrier to electric vehicle adoption.

The challenge remains to provide these residents with convenient EV charging today, while ensuring that the infrastructure installed endures the technological advancements of tomorrow. Bedford Borough Council sought a low-risk on-street solution that was future-proof and flexible to upgrades, with minimal ongoing operating costs.

Further, the solution needed to meet OZEV’s funding requirements by being successfully installed prior to the end of the financial year.The funding was awarded at the end of January 2021, leaving just two months to have sites selected, design and planning complete, and charge points installed and commissioned.

The solution: installing low-risk, revenue-generating on-street charging infrastructure that supports local EV uptake today and is flexible to technologies of tomorrow.

Connected Kerb worked with the Council throughout February to identify suitable sites, submit required permits and prepare for the commencement of ground works. Installation across the five streets began on 2 March and all 30 charging points were successfully installed and commissioned by 29 March, despite unforeseen delays.

The unique design of the CK system sees the bulk of the charging components sitting beneath the ground, while only discreet charging sockets are visible above ground, and which blend into the surrounding landscape. This design minimises further construction activities and disruption to residents. It also results in quick maintenance or repair times, meaning charge point uptime is optimised.

Deploying infrastructure alone, without effective community engagement and education, tends to lead to low utilisation and has little impact on EV adoption. Healthy ongoing utilisation rates has been identified as a key deliverable and a resident outreach campaign has been undertaken to support this. An exclusive elmo EV subscription discount has also been offered to Bedford residents who want to trial an EV without the commitment of buying or leasing.

The ultimate goal is to create EV ambassadors within the community, increasing awareness and knowledge, debunking perceived barriers to EV ownership and accelerating adoption rates.

What’s more, installation of charging infrastructure does not have to be a sunk cost. Good utilisation rates also produce sustainable revenue. The income generated from the charge points will support the Council with further investment into community projects.

Offering more than solely EV charging, CK’s solution also supports a wealth of add-ons, including Wi-Fi and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies – namely air quality, environmental and parking sensors. These, along with upgrades in charging technologies, like wireless charging, can be added with ease to existing sites once available and requested by the client.

Conclusion

Providing a convenient on-street charging solution is key to ensuring those without driveways are not left behind on the Road to Zero.

The installations in Bedford are an example of how on-street charging can be quickly and successfully deployed to support these residents today, while being flexible to the possibilities of e-mobility and smart tech of the future.

The project is easily replicable and if adopted at scale by councils across Britain, would help to drive adoption of electric vehicles, and crucially, improve air quality across the country.