BT Group to trial convert street cabinets to EV charging points

BT Group is set to begin a trial converting or upgrading its street cabinets into electric vehicle (EV) charging units via its startup Etc.

While at an early stage, if successful the pilot could make an important contribution to decarbonising the transport system and supporting the UK’s plans to net zero.

BT managing director Tom Guy said the UK needs a “massive upgrade to meet the needs of the EV revolution,” especially with “the ban on sales of internal combustion engine vehicles coming in 2030, and with only around 45,000 public charge points today.”

The news follows last year’s government announcement to grow the number of UK charge points from around 45,000 today to 300,000 by 2030, committing £1.6 billion in public funding to the effort.

Early projections suggest that, over time, as many as 60,000 of BT’s 90,000 cabinets may be suitable for upgrading to EV charging points; but neither the trials nor any potential scaling of the new EV charge network would present any change or disruption to the telecommunications services supported from the cabinets.

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However, decisions on any further scaling on this programme will depend on the success of the two years of pilots.

BT will scope a range of different technical, commercial and operational considerations with bringing this EV charge point network online, including:

  • Technical – including cabinet location, power availability, customer accessibility, digital customer experience and engineering considerations
  • Civil planning – including location, local council engagement and physical accessibility
  • Commercial – including public funding options, private investment, partnership, and wider financial modelling
  • Operational – as a dedicated BT Group venture or in partnership with others.

The cabinets are currently used for providing copper-based broadband and phone services, and will be decommissioned as the ambitious nationwide upgrade to full fibre progresses.

The first phase of the EV charging pilots, open to Openreach and BT Group colleagues, is planned to kick off in Northern Ireland in the autumn of 2023, and will be expanded to the public with more pilot locations added across the UK later in the year.

EnergyNet zeroNewsTransport

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