14 November 2013

The Rapid Charge Network Project, which is being led by Nissan and co-ordinated by Gateshead-based Zero Carbon Futures, aims to establish a network of rapid chargers for electric vehicles running the full length and breadth of the United Kingdom and Ireland. When complete, a total of 74 rapid chargers – capable of charging an electric vehicle in just 30 minutes – will have been installed, covering more than 1,100kms of major trunk routes and providing EV-friendly links to five seaports and five international airports.

Part-funded by the European Union through the Trans European Transport Network, the Newcastle University research team will be responsible for analysing the data around driver behaviour and charging patterns to inform future transport infrastructure and best practice for the rest of Europe.

“This project could be the game changer that encourages more manufacturers to develop EVs and more of us to make the switch to electric cars,” explains Phil Blythe, Professor of Transport at Newcastle University and academic lead on the project. We have already seen the important role EVs could play in addressing the issue of urban sustainability – reducing emissions in city centres. This takes us beyond the urban boundaries, addressing one of the main barriers to electric transport which is distance. With rapid charging networks, EVs become a serious contender as a future mode of transport and our research will inform how best these networks can be implemented across Europe.”

The project was officially announced at a launch event in Tallinn, Estonia, hosted by European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas. The consortium members include Nissan, Renault, BMW and Volkswagen, ESB Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board, Zero Carbon Futures and Newcastle University. Using data loggers, the Newcastle University team will look at how often people re-charge, how far they travel between charging points, total distance travelled and other indicators of driver behaviour and efficiency. The project builds on the three-year SwitchEV project investigating the impact of electric vehicles and the role they could play in our urban transport systems of the future.

Since its launch in November 2010, the SwitchEV project has involved almost 200 drivers from across the region making over 71,600 trips. The 44 EVs involved in the trial have travelled a total of 403,000 miles – equivalent to driving around the world 16 times – have been charged 19,900 times and have saved 76,000 kg CO2 being released into the atmosphere. There are now more electric vehicles per head of population in the North East than anywhere else in the country and the region has the UK’s most extensive charging network with over 500 public charging points, including a 12 rapid charge points.

Professor Blythe adds: “SwitchEV helped us build up the first true picture of what a low carbon urban transport system might look like in the future. This project will take us beyond the city boundaries and look at inter-urban travel and how we might establish low carbon networks that stretch not just between cities, but across countries.”

About the RCN

Running on two priority road axes on the mainland, the network will link major ports and cities including Stranraer, Liverpool, Holyhead, Birmingham, Felixstowe, Leeds and Kingston upon Hull with connections to existing networks in Dublin and Belfast in Eire and Northern Ireland.

The rapid chargers being deployed will be the first state-of-the-art multi-standard units in public operation in Europe. This will ensure that every EV owner in the country can undertake long journeys secure in the knowledge that they will never be far from a rapid charger no matter what brand of car they drive. The units are compatible with cars using 44kW DC CCS, 44 kW DC Chademo or 43 kW AC systems. Installation of the rapid chargers is due to be completed by the end of 2014.

By providing a network of chargers for EV drivers, the RCN project is designed to encourage further take up of electric vehicles in a bid to further decarbonise road transport. The network will also be used to gather strategic information from users, including customer charging behavior and changes in mobility patterns, to help plan the roll-out future rapid charging infrastructure in member states across Europe.

The RCN project is one of 30 priority transport projects across Europe identified by TEN-T. The Projects were chosen according to the added value they offer to the European community and their contribution to the sustainable development of transport systems. They include rail, mixed rail-road, road and inland waterway projects, as well as a ‘motorways of the sea’ scheme.

For more information please vitsit the Newcastle University website