BT Group's digital incubation arm, Etc., unveils a groundbreaking initiative to convert near end-of-life street cabinets into EV charging points. The pilot, starting in East Lothian, Scotland, aims to address the shortage of EV chargers on UK roads, contributing to the nation's sustainability targets. The innovative solution retrofits cabinets, sharing renewable energy with existing broadband services, providing a scalable approach to enhance the UK's EV charging infrastructure. Recognized at CES 2024 for its innovation, this initiative aligns with BT Group's commitment to connect for good and build future-ready solutions.
In a pioneering move, Etc., the startup and digital incubation arm of BT Group, announces a groundbreaking initiative to repurpose street cabinets traditionally used for broadband and phone cabling into electric vehicle (EV) charging points. The pilot, which kicks off in East Lothian, Scotland, marks the initial phase of technical trials aiming to upgrade up to 60,000 cabinets, aligning with the UK government's sustainability targets and the imperative to decarbonize transportation.
The novel concept, developed to overcome the challenges of EV charging infrastructure, explores the potential of existing street furniture to serve as EV charging points. With BT Group research revealing that 38% would consider owning an EV if charging were more accessible, and only 53,000 public EV charge points currently available in the UK, this initiative holds significance in the country's journey towards achieving net-zero emissions.
Etc. has identified East Lothian, Scotland, as the first installation location, with plans to roll out further pilots across the UK in the coming months. The UK government aims to increase the number of charge points from 53,000 to 300,000 by 2030. However, the limited access to charging poses a significant barrier to widespread EV adoption.
Acknowledging the challenges, Etc. will delve into various technical, commercial, and operational considerations during the trials. These include evaluating cabinet locations, power availability, customer accessibility, digital customer experience, civil planning aspects such as local council engagement and permissions, commercial viability through public funding or private investment, and operational feasibility as a dedicated venture or in partnership with others.
Despite being in the early stages of development, this initiative has already gained global recognition, receiving an Innovation Honoree award at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) for outstanding design and engineering in 2024.
The EV charging solution involves retrofitting cabinets with a device that enables the sharing of renewable energy for EV charging alongside existing broadband services, eliminating the need for new power connections. This approach allows for the reuse of existing infrastructure, with cabinets either in use for current broadband services or due for retirement being repurposed.
While the pilot focuses on the UK, the challenge of EV charging infrastructure is a global concern. In the US, for instance, the installed public EV chargers (160,000) are significantly outnumbered by electric vehicles (2.4 million), highlighting the urgency of innovative solutions worldwide.
Tom Guy, CEO of Etc. at BT Group, emphasizes the significance of the charging solution in bringing EV charging kerbside and addressing critical barriers faced by customers. The initiative aligns with the broader purpose of connecting for good and reflects BT Group's commitment to positive transformation for the future.
BT Group's Etc. initiative to transform street cabinets into EV charging points marks a revolutionary step in addressing the challenges of EV charging infrastructure. The pilot, starting in East Lothian, Scotland, explores the potential to upgrade thousands of cabinets, contributing to the UK's sustainability goals. Recognized at CES 2024, this innovative solution aligns with BT Group's commitment to positive transformation, connecting for good, and building products that work for the future. As the trials progress, the initiative presents a scalable and sustainable approach to enhance the UK's EV charging infrastructure, with global implications for addressing the universal challenge of electric vehicle adoption.