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London trial utilises streetlights as electric vehicle chargers

Image: BMW.

Image: BMW.

A trial is underway in London to convert streetlights connected to UK Power Networks' electricity network in central London into charge points for electric vehicles.

The project between the DNO, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and German smart charging firm Ubitricity has begun by converting three street lights. This allows two local residents to charge their vehicles from a street light near their front door, and receive accurate bills for their electricity use via their smart phone or computer.

The trial in Onslow Gardens has seen the streetlights retro-fitted with charging technology while access is managed with smart charging cables to accurately determine the electricity being used so it can be paid for.

UKPN says this could pave the way for greater EV use and tackle air pollution in London by allowing drivers to conveniently charge their vehicles where off street parking is unavailable

Mark Burton, from UK Power Networks, said: “This technology avoids the need to build new electricity network and makes better use of the cables, particularly in the daytime when the lights are switched off.

 “This solution means we can monitor how much electricity is being used in order to maintain reliable electricity supplies as more EVs connect to our networks. It should also release more parking spaces currently set aside as dedicated EV charging bays, result in less street furniture and fewer excavations to install new charging points.”

The Royal Borough agreed to take part after residents made enquiries about greater availability of EV charging points and if the trial proves successful, the council will explore other opportunities for using street lights in this way.