In the UK, BT Group is looking at repurposing soon-to-be redundant street cabinets for copper wires into on-street electric vehicle charging stations. Pilot projects over the next two years will convert or upgrade street cabinets.
The first pilots will start this autumn in Northern Ireland. BT Group says more pilot locations will be added across the UK later in the year.
The British telecommunications holding company will deploy its start-up and digital incubation team, Etc. to carry out the pilots that should provide essential insight into the viability of scaling EV charging to more locations across its estate.
At the moment, the cabinets are used for copper-based broadband and phone services.
These will soon be decommissioned as full fibre upgrades progress across the UK. The pilot project has a number of opportunities and considerations and involves collaboration across the Group to assess the potential in this sector and test the technology.
BT Group says the pilot projects kicking off in autumn this year will be open to Openreach and BT Group colleagues.
Openreach is a division of BT Group, established in 2006, that owns the telecommunications pipework and phone cables in the UK. The division employs around 32,000 people.
BT Group assures the public that the pilot projects will not disrupt Openreach’s focus on building and connecting full fibre across the UK but rather that the various divisions of the telecommunications giant will have a mutual benefit in each other’s activities– for example, the new charging cabinets will provide early access to charging facilities for Openreach’s EV fleet, which in turn, supports with the fibre build.
The pilot projects must assess technical, commercial and operational considerations relevant to putting this potentially enormous network of street charging stations online.
This includes analysing technical considerations concerning the location of each cabinet, the availability of power in any given area, customer accessibility and digital customer experience.
Civil planning is also required. This involves local council engagement and includes considerations of location and physical accessibility.
Commercial and operational elements to be investigated are things like investigating public funding options, private investment, and further financial modelling, as well as the potential in dedicated BT Group ventures or partnerships.
“With the ban on sales of internal combustion engine vehicles coming in 2030, and with only around 45,000 public charge points today, the UK needs a massive upgrade to meet the needs of the EV revolution,” says Tom Guy, Managing Director, Etc. at BT Group.
“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect for good in a whole new way by innovating around our cabinet infrastructure. The pilots are critical for the team to work through the assessment and establish effective technical, commercial and operational routes to market over the next two years.”