Council installs pop-up mini solar car park to charge EV fleet

Surrey County Council (SCC) has become the second council in the UK to install a pop-up mini solar car park in order to charge its fleet of electric vehicles.

Called Papilio3, the installation been developed by British solar car park developer 3ti and will be used to charge EV cars using renewable solar energy.

Solar car parks are increasingly popular in the UK, as companies look for ways to ease the rollout of EV charging infrastructure. To date, Papilio3 has been installed in a range of areas across the leisure, public, private, commercial and industrial sectors – including the Silverstone racetrack.

The first Papilio3 unit was unveiled at Surrey Research Park in Guildford in 2022.

SCC will use Papilio3 to charge its growing electric vehicle fleet, as it looks to boost its sustainability strategy. Each has an installed capacity of 19.3kWp and can produce up to 18MWh of electricity in year one, equivalent to 64,343 EV miles.

Papilio3 combines local mains power with solar and is built around a recycled shipping container that can be installed in under eight hours. It can fast charge 12 EVs at 7, 11 or 22kW simultaneously,  its makers say.

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Surrey County Council has agreed a three-year hire for Papilio3.

Paul Wheadon, strategic contract group manager for the council’s Highways and Transport Department said: “We’re delighted to have Papilio3 installed, which represents an important milestone in our effort to reduce emissions and expand our electric vehicle fleet.

“With charging capacity up to 22kW, multiple operational vehicles (when not in use) can be charged throughout the day, ensuring vehicles remain operational without the need for long dwell times on low-powered charging options.

“As well as the benefit of generating solar power to charge our fleet, the nature of the structure means we have the flexibility to conveniently relocate the unit elsewhere on the site in the future if needed, unlike with other charging solutions.

“Papilio3 aligns with our wider commitment to reduce the impact of transport on the environment, as we continue to work towards achieving a greener future”.

Figures show that one in five new cars bought are electric and 29% of sales are hybrid, the data from the New Automotive’s Electric Car Count reveals.

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