GRIDSERVE delivers solar and battery innovation at Cornwall Services Electric Super Hub
July 24 2023
Author : Jon Quirk
Charging your electric car, van or motorcycle in the summer holiday magnet of Cornwall just got a whole lot easier with the opening of our latest Electric Super Hub.
Cornwall Services near Saint Austell already boasts a Taco Bell, Costa, Rowe’s Cornish Bakers and Saltrock clothing, but it’s now home to six High Power, 350kW-capable EV chargers, plus a further six Low Power, 22kW-capable AC chargers that will please guests staying at the onsite Holiday Inn.
Importantly, this flagship Electric Super Hub features a few trick pieces of our latest equipment that have been feasibility tested in recent months to better manage the site’s limited grid capacity.
What is grid capacity and why is it an issue?
You may have seen from our previous article that the challenge of developing an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station is a complex one that requires many people with very large foreheads to solve. Our Electric Super Hubs require vast amounts of power and that often requires new, or reinforced, grid connections to support.
The trouble is that applying for more power at Cornwall Services isn’t the only thing populating National Grid’s inbox. It’s widely accepted that transforming the grid is going to be critical to achieving the UK’s energy goals and getting to net zero is going to require gigawatts of new renewable energy generation that needs connecting.
As such, the electricity system operator tasked with managing and investing in these new connections is getting inundated with requests like ours and feeling the pressure with its lengthy connection lead times.
If the UK is serious about electrifying transport (and homes) and doing so with clean energy generation projects like solar and wind, independent energy experts Regen reckon we’re going to need to double our existing generational capacity within the next 12 years. Reform and investment is clearly needed to ensure the grid doesn’t become a blocker to net zero.
Tackling the lack of grid connection at Cornwall Services
So, in summary, new capacity isn’t always a given. And even if your project is lucky enough to be granted more power, there may be myriad factors that affect the capacity, cost or timescales presented for said grid connection.
Yet in view of the climate emergency – an emergency that was declared by Cornwall Council in January 2019 – GRIDSERVE has developed a number of solutions to get Electric Super Hubs like Cornwall Services operational today.
The most noticeable upgrade is the solar canopy which, in addition to providing some much needed shelter, also generates energy that goes directly to our EV chargers. Our usage data also shows a close correlation between the profile of solar energy generation and energy consumption across our chargers over the course of a day.
Next up is the 1MW battery storage system nestled into a corner of the site. We already have batteries at our solar farms and Electric Forecourts® and they work like miniature power plants, able to store energy generated from our solar panels and either deliver this energy to our charging customers or, in times of peak demand, back to the grid to the wholesale market. This is another revenue stream that we can generate to provide sustainability for the network.
In Cornwall, however, the battery relationship is a simpler one, effectively ‘sipping’ from the grid in moments of low demand before being able to discharge energy from the batteries at the high output required by our chargers. It means the existing grid connection doesn’t require upgrading because it’s unaffected by those local surges in demand.
And there’s more…
We’ve recently submitted planning permission to build a solar farm the size of two football pitches adjacent to Cornwall Services. The idea of this so-called private wire connection would be to directly connect solar to our battery and chargers, delivering enough zero carbon energy to deliver four million miles of EV driving.
In peak summer, Cornwall Services welcomes more than 1,000 vehicles and their occupants every month. The quicker GRIDSERVE is able to deliver awesome EV charging experiences here and elsewhere, the more confident drivers will feel about electric vehicles and the quicker they’ll be willing to make the switch. There is no time to waste.