In Norway & The UK, The EV Revolution Is Reinventing The Gas Station

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Are Hansen, who heads CleanTechnica’s Norway desk, sent us a story from Elbil, the Norwegian Electric Car Association, about a new Circle K service station in the city of Kongsburg, near Oslo. Norway, of course, has the highest number of electric cars per capita of any nation in the world, thanks to aggressive government policies.

With so many EVs on the road, it was inevitable there would be changes to the service stations along Norway’s highways. The Circle K in Kongsburg is the first to re-imagine what the future will look like. The biggest change? The EV chargers are out front. If you want to purchase gasoline or diesel, you must drive around back. There are six 300 kW ultra-fast chargers and twelve 200 kW fast chargers that can service two cars at once. If they are all in use at the same time, they can draw more than 1.8 megawatts of electricity.

Image credit: Elbil

At the present time, there are no electric cars on the road that can handle 300 kW charging. The Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT come closest, at 270 kW under ideal conditions. The Hyundai 5 and Kia EV6, which both use 800 volt architecture, can charge at up to 220 kW. Clearly Circle K is preparing today for the future of electric motoring.

To supplement the local power supply, the Circle K facility has 146 solar panels mounted on its roof with a maximum power output of 50.38 kW. And to take advantage of time of use rates from the local utility company, it also has a 200 kWH storage battery system that can be expanded to 300 kWH in the future. The battery storage allows the Circle K in Kongsburg to save more the NOK 100,000 ($1,150) a month in utility charges.

Fast charging is great, but people want a comfortable space inside while their EV is charging, even if it is for only 15 to 20 minutes. The Kongsburg Circle K has a 50-seat restaurant on the second floor and an array of comfortable lounge areas on the first floor. Clean, modern, convenient. These are the hallmarks of the future of EV charging with Circle K leading the way.

New Charging Options In The UK

Image credit: Gridserve

In 2011, UK company Ecotricity began installing EV chargers at gas stations along motorways in the UK, where they are known as forecourts. A lot has changed in 10 years. Most of those original chargers are not functioning or don’t have the power to meet the needs of today’s EV drives.

According to the BBC, Ecotricity has now been acquired by Gridserve, which promises to replace all 300 of the Ecotricity chargers located at 150 forecourts with modern equipment by September. It also says it will create at least 50 ‘electric hubs’ consisting of up to a dozen 350 kW ultra-fast chargers at motorway service stations throughout the country. The Gridserve chargers will allow drivers to use contactless debit or credit cards to pay for their electricity instead of a smartphone app.

Gridserve has trademarked the name “Electric Forecourts” and plans to open more than 100 of those charging hubs in towns and cities within the next five years. Each will include shops, cafes, restrooms, and showrooms where people can learn about electric cars. Gridserve says all of its chargers are supported by solar farms, meaning that every kilowatt of electricity taken from the grid is matched by an equivalent amount of solar energy going back into it.

The UK says it will ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines beginning in 2030. Because of the ban, Toddington Harper, CEO of Gridserve, says he believes we are now entering a “mass market” for electric vehicles. “We can have the confidence to deploy much larger numbers of chargers. The business case is just completely different to what it used to be.”

The Takeaway

The only constant in life is change. Once, small business owners could make a living selling gasoline, oil, batteries, belts, hoses, tires, and maps to motorists. Then gas stations became obsolete as new technologies made cars more reliable. In response, gas stations became convenience stores, selling high fructose corn syrup disguised as soft drinks and snacks. Now things are changing again as electric cars become more numerous. The service stations of the future will feature undreamed of levels of comfort and convenience.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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