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Kent County Council, The Rural Road to Zero

Case Study: Kent County Council  

Installing future-proofed charging infrastructure in rural areas, creating a long-term revenue stream. 


Project Overview
 

Kent County Council issued a tender through the KCS Professional Services (KCS) framework to procure electric vehicle charging infrastructure across 20 Kent Parish Council sites to improve accessibility for EV motorists and encourage a wider shift to EVs. 

Of the 11 suppliers available on KCS’s procurement system, Connected Kerb was selected to carry out works across the 20 sites. A total of 40 charging units are being installed, each rated at 7kW.   

The project is financed from a range of sources, including funding received from the Kent Lane Rental Scheme; the DFT to support sustainable travel; Parishes themselves have contributed and for some locations 75% of the costs were financed through the UK Government’s On Street Residential Charge Point Scheme (ORCS), available to all local authorities in the UK.

The challenge: providing electric vehicle charging across areas not currently well-served.   

Kent County Council sought to alleviate the risk of charging ‘blackspots’ by extending its public charging network across more rural areas within its county.  

Installing charging infrastructure outside of busy urban areas has typically been a challenge for the industry and there is massive disparity in the distribution of EV charging points across the UK.  

For example, over 30% of the UK’s public charging network is located in London,  equivalent to 63 public chargers per 100,000 people i. This compares to areas like Gravesham, Kent, which has just 3.7 chargers per 100,000 people ii. 

In more rural areas, lower grid capacity and fewer connections can increase upfront cost, with lower footfall compounding the challenge by extending the return-on-investment period. The project in Kent faced similar challenges, with constraints on power supply in some locations.  

Further, with a considerable number of stakeholders involved, the project’s complexities increased the risk for potential complications and inefficiencies.

The solution:installing future-proofed, cost-effective charging infrastructure that provides access to a long-term revenue stream.

Kent County Council mitigated the challenge of selecting an installer by utilising the KCS purchasing system, where suppliers are vetted on quality prior to featuring on the framework.    

Connected Kerb was selected based on its future-proof and cost-effective charging solution. Its infrastructure, which is uniquely deployed with the bulk of the charging components sitting beneath the ground, is designed to last significantly longer than anything else on the market.  

This design, with only discreet charging sockets above the ground, minimises ongoing maintenance and additional construction activities, meaning uptime is maximised – imperative for rural areas.  

The chargers can also support additional smart capabilities in the future, such as, air quality monitoring, parking management, CCTV, road sensors, 5G connection, autonomous vehicles, route planning and power demand forecasting. These features, plus the long lifespan, improve the cost-effectiveness of the charging infrastructure and create a business case for installing it in more rural areas.  

This long-term approach means Kent County Council will have access to a sustainable a revenue stream. 

This substantially improves the economics of rural charge point deployment by making it more affordable to install, ultimately reducing costs for drivers and creating cleaner, quieter communities for all people.  

Connected Kerb simplified the procurement and deployment process, by offering end-to-end services, including planning, site surveys, installation, liaising with UK Power Networks for new supplies and ongoing maintenance and back-office support.  

Conclusion 

The Kent County Council deployments across Parishes is an example of how a large range of stakeholders can collaborate successfully to deliver a high-quality, streamlined EV charging project.  

This project provides a blueprint for local authorities across the UK to deliver  sustainable, affordable and accessible EV infrastructure to hard-to-reach UK communities. 

Notes 

The 20 sites across Kent were in partnership with: Dymchurch Parish Council, Ash-Cum-Ridley Parish Council, Meopham Parish Council, Swanscombe and Greenhith Town Council, Walmer Parish Council, Swanley Town Council, Farningham Parish Council, Swanley Town Council, Borden, Benenden, Appledore Village Hall, Ditton parish Council, Southborough Town Council, Stone Parish Council, Sutton Valence Parish Council, Chartham Parish Council, Turner Gallery. 

https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry-news-technology/analysis-do-ev-charging-firms-need-government-support 

ii Guardian analysis: Regional disparities in electric car-charging points revealed