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9/9/2021 - Launch of new rural rapid charging point network

 

The drive to break down the main barriers to ownership of electrical vehicles in rural communities has begun with the launch – on World Electric Vehicle Day – of a project that will see a network of 24 rapid charging points installed on the west coast of the Highlands and Islands.

 

Kate Forbes, MSP, Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch (right) is pictured at a rapid charge point with (left to right) Gemma Robinson, FASTER Project Officer, HITRANS, Lewis Hunter, Research and Development Engineer, University of Strathclyde and Ranald Robertson, Director, HITRANS

 

HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, has attracted 1,500,000 Euros of funding from INTERREG VA and support from the Scottish Government to install the EV units in Lochaber, Skye and Lochalsh, Argyll and Bute (excluding Helensburgh) and the Western Isles by 2023. Priority locations have been identified but are still to be confirmed. Project partners will install a further 24 in each of Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland in a 6.4 million Euro programme.

 

HITRANS has tapped into a European collaboration to help deliver the FASTER Project - Facilitating a Sustainable Transition to Electric Vehicles in the Regions. It is a project supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The project will assist with analysis of the planning and procurement requirements needed to kick start a commercial charging service. Ireland and Northern Ireland are included in the project partners. 

FASTER aims to ensure that the availability of charging stations is not a major obstacle to EV market penetration, with the proposal to carry out the design and analysis, procurement, installation and operation of 73 rapid chargers (50KW capacity) across the 3 countries. 

 

Lochaber Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of HITRANS, said: “The FASTER project is the latest in a growing number of environmentally-friendly European projects that HITRANS is delighted to be involved in. We are committed to delivering practical projects which contribute towards the greening of transport in our diverse and rural area. FASTER will share best practice for deploying charge points and promote sustainable transport in the region and help break down the barriers to ownership of EVs.”

 

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “I am delighted that World Electric Vehicle Day has been chosen to launch this hugely exciting initiative in a rural part of Scotland I know so well.   Providing a reliable network of rapid charging facilities across many of the more remote parts of Scotland will help remove the barrier to EV ownership and allow these communities to play their role in making Scotland a greener place to live, as well as allowing more visitors to access and contribute to these places.

 

“I congratulate HITRANS for taking this project forward, and it’s also encouraging to hear that there are further sites in the pipeline with more rapid chargers planned not just for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch – but across the Highlands and Islands as a whole.”

Preliminary work has been conducted on possible locations for the chargers through the HITRANS EV Strategy, and discussions are ongoing with Transport Scotland project partner Strathclyde University (engaging with SSE Networks) to ensure locations are chosen wisely and in line with grid capacity and existing infrastructure.

 

A major partner in the project is the University of Strathclyde.   Ryan Sims, Senior Research and Development Engineer at the University’s Power Network Demonstration Centre, said:  ”Finalising site selections for the Scottish region is a fantastic milestone for the FASTER project and a big step closer to seeing more charge points in the ground for EV drivers. To support this milestone PNDC developed a process tailored to the FASTER project objectives, i.e. to find the 24 best sites for new rapid journey chargers in the region. The developed process identified strategic gaps in the current charging network, and forecast current and future EV charging demand for each area within the Scottish region. PNDC then matched real-world sites with identified charging needs, liaising with Local Authorities and communities to select a shortlist. Finally, we analysed available grid capacity to de-risk our prioritised sites using electricity network data from SSEN. This evidence based approach provided the Scottish FASTER region with a short-list of 24 sites, giving local authorities confidence and justification that the sites selected are the most valuable to EV drivers living and travelling to the area.”

 

EV installation advisers are consultants, Cenex.  Dominic McMahon, Assistant Technical Specialist, Cenex, said: “The FASTER project will give residents and tourists the confidence to drive EVs when traversing the beautiful landscapes of Western Scotland, including the Highlands and islands. Cenex is delighted to join the project and will work to ensure rapid chargepoints installed at strategic locations are reliable, accessible and easy to use for drivers; and cost-effective to install, maintain and operate.”

 

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Additional information:  

 

Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an EV, often found at motorway services or locations close to main routes. Rapid devices supply high power direct or alternating current – DC or AC – to recharge a car as fast as possible. Depending on model, EVs can be recharged to 80% in as little as 20 minutes, though an average new EV would take around an hour on a standard 50 kW rapid charge point. Power from a unit represents the maximum charging speed available, though the car will reduce charging speed as the battery gets closer to full charge. As such, times are quoted for a charge to 80%, after which the charging speed tails off significantly. This maximises charging efficiency and helps protect the battery. All must be located in the programme area which is – Argyll and Bute, Western Isles and the Skye, Lochalsh and Lochaber areas of Highland Council. We haven’t confirmed on locations yet but expect to hope to spread evenly across the area to give a robust network that will encourage more people in these areas to make the switch.

 

Identifying suitable sites will be part done at the outset with support from the Local Authorities and Strathclyde University, who are partners on the project and will assist in terms of information on the power network.

 

Some priority locations were identified in our EV strategy but we will review this against current demand and also look to fill gaps in the network. At some of the busiest locations such as Fort William, Oban and Portree where there may be existing chargers we will look to install additional provision to help meet demand but once we have done necessary work on network access etc we will take the final list to our board for approval.

  

INTERREG VA Programme 

 

The Special EU Programmes Body is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Ireland. It is responsible for managing two EU Structural Funds Programmes, PEACE IV and INTERREG VA which are designed to enhance cross-border co-operation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society. 

 

The Programmes operate within a clearly defined area including Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and in the case of INTERREG VA, Western Scotland. 

 

The INTERREG VA Programme has a value of €283 million and aims to address the economic and social problems which result from the existence of borders. 

 

For more information on the SEUPB please visit www.seupb.eu  

 

  

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