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Britain’s First Electric Forecourt (Paid For By Taxpayers)

December 1, 2020

By Paul Homewood


  h/t Patsy Lacey



Britain’s first electric forecourt will open next Monday as part of the £1bn rollout of a nationwide network.

The site in Braintree, Essex, is the first of 100 electric charging stations that will be opened over the next five years.

The landmark opening was delayed from November as a result of the second Covid-19 lockdown.

The station boasts 24 charging points that recharge electric cars within half an hour. A further six "superchargers" have been dedicated for Tesla owners.

There is a Costa Coffee, WHSmith and Post Office also on the site, run by startup Gridserve.

Earlier this month Boris Johnson confirmed that a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be brought forward to 2030.

The Gridserve forecourt is powered by solar energy and battery storage projects to minimise carbon emissions in generating the electricity.

Toddington Harper, Gridserve chief executive, said the forecourt based on a 2.5 acre site, "will be the most advanced charging facility in the UK, and possibly the world".

"Drivers will be able to turn up and charge their vehicle at the fastest rate each vehicle can support, using 100pc renewable energy, and with the best possible charging experience," he added.

The forecourt was funded by a taxpayer grant of almost £5m. Plans revealed in August came with the backing of former Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly, MP for Braintree.


So, a £5m bung from taxpayers just for 24 chargers, a maximum of 48 cars per hour.

In comparison, a similar sized petrol station would expect an hourly throughput of maybe 500 cars. Even allowing for the fact that many EVs will be charged from home, 100 of these electric stations will barely scratch the surface.

Gridserve boast that drivers can pop in for a cup of coffee while they are charging. They don’t say, however, what they are supposed to do while waiting for a free bay.

Braintree district has a population of 150,000, so there could be maybe 75,000 cars there. If 30,000 of these need public charging twice a week, you would need 150 of these electric forecourts (assuming 8-hour per day operation). At £5m a go, that’s £750m for one small town, equivalent to £5000 for every man, woman and child living there.


Gridserve also claim that it is powered by solar and battery storage. This is not true however. According to their own website:

GRIDSERVE recently acquired the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm – the Clayhill Solar Farm in Bedfordshire – to guarantee that all of the energy used at the Braintree Electric Forecourt® comes from net zero-carbon solar power.


In other words, Braintree will be totally reliant on the National Grid for power, at times when Clayhill is not providing enough, which will happen more often than not.

  1. December 1, 2020 11:06 am

    We stopped at a service station in Wales a while back, on the M4. Four Tesla chargers. Eight some other company chargers.

    Cars charging? None.

  2. December 1, 2020 11:12 am

    I’ve never seen a car at the charging points at my local leisure centre.

  3. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    December 1, 2020 11:12 am

    Wait for the snow.

  4. Joe Public permalink
    December 1, 2020 11:17 am

    In Braintree, those solar panels will be generating at just 3% Capacity Factor during January.

  5. December 1, 2020 11:22 am

    Advice to numbers game enthusiasts.
    Don’t mess with accountants.

  6. Peter permalink
    December 1, 2020 11:27 am

    Recent reports suggest that fast charging damages the battery capacity after about 25 cyles.

  7. Harry Passfield permalink
    December 1, 2020 11:39 am

    “A further six “superchargers” have been dedicated for” Rolls-Royce “owners.”

    Spot the problem with that statement.

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      December 1, 2020 12:52 pm

      Good one!

  8. December 1, 2020 11:57 am

    Garbage I know but I wish to point out the following statements which show the level of dishonisty and asininity that the CONrenewables feel comfortable using to promote their activities UNCHALLENGED by Trading Standards…what a surprise.

    I quote: “The Gridserve forecourt is powered by solar energy and battery storage projects to minimise carbon emissions in generating the electricity”.

    What has a battery to do with the source of the electrikery which has energized it? Secondly UNLESS they have their own private solar money printing machine with a dedicated line to the station then only an idiot or a child would not be able to grasp that you do not choose where the electrikery you use comes from

    Toddington Harper, Gridserve chief executive, said the forecourt based on a 2.5 acre site, “will be the most advanced charging facility in the UK, and possibly the world”.”Drivers will be able to turn up and charge their vehicle at the fastest rate each vehicle can support, using 100pc renewable energy, and with the best possible charging experience,” he added.

    Toddington Harper? Toddington? Is this a wind up? What kind of sadistic parent saddles a child with a name like that? ( Perhaps he was conceived in the car park of the Toddington Motorway Services, you know like Brooklyn Beckham? Anyway MISTER Harper I call you out as a egregious liar or a wilful ignoramus. Which is it`?

    I wrote to Trading Standards about a similar claim about renewable energy on a charging point at a nondescript motorway service station somewhere darn sarth last year..( Maybe it was Toddington!) Not only is Trading Standards a complete mess with no single entity covering the country but when I found the version of this bureaucratic nonsense covering the area where the service station was located they could not have been less interested if they tried. I pointed out to claim the electricity is 100% renewable is a deliberate lie and the first idiot I talked to acted all hurt and spoke to me as if they were an advocate for the company making the false claim so I asked to speak to the boss who refused to give me his name and who also did not see anything wrong with the claim saying essentially that it is only an aspirational statement!

    Rotten to the core the whole lot of it! Interesting this whole sham industry feels comfortable promoting its self with half truths and down right lies and from the reaction I got from Trading Standards…they are not afraid of breaching the trades descriptions act. Is that how a (100% you can trust the science behind this) credible industry behaves?

    • Ariane permalink
      December 1, 2020 4:36 pm

      Pardonmeforbreathing, the whole thing is based on lies, nastiness and self-interest. Well done for following through at a local level.

  9. 2hmp permalink
    December 1, 2020 12:06 pm

    What is the wattage at which they charge ? The faster the charge rate the shorter the life of the battery.

  10. Gerry, England permalink
    December 1, 2020 12:29 pm

    The blurb states that the solar farm is subsidy free. The City of London numpties are paying £40m for the solar farm in Dorset that also claims to be subsidy free. Given how much obfuscation and lies surround these sort of claims, can this really be true?

  11. Dave Ward permalink
    December 1, 2020 12:51 pm

    “Drivers will be able to turn up and charge their vehicle at the fastest rate each vehicle can support”

    This claim is bunk.

    I enlarged the picture and counted 1080 panels. Let’s say they are rated at 300 watts (maximum) each, that’s a theoretical total output of 324 kW – which, of course will only apply for a few cloudless hours a day in mid summer. There are 24 charge points available, so 324:24 = 13.5kW per car. That’s about twice what you can get from a domestic wall box, and well short of the 50kW “Fast Chargers” that many EV’s can utilise, let alone the 100kW+ that some of the latest cars can accept. Even if the site CAN support 24 x 50kW simultaneously, it obviously can’t do it from the on-site panels, and even if the battery pack could manage 1.2MW peak output, it would be flat in minutes.

    Once again, the headline claims are bollox, and never get questioned by the media.

    As an aside, I can recall our local filling station once getting TWO tanker deliveries in one day. It meant that half of the pumps were out of action for about 15 minutes due to forecourt space issues. Big Deal…

    • GeoffB permalink
      December 1, 2020 1:30 pm

      The panels are not at the optimum angle, for all we know they could be painted on or photoshopped.

      • December 1, 2020 2:29 pm

        Worse still, they’re tilted towards each other, so one or other side is at a really poor angle most of the time relative to incoming sunlight. Or to put it another way, these jokers are just playing at renewable ‘energy’ to entertain the punters.

      • Dave Ward permalink
        December 1, 2020 3:43 pm

        “The panels are not at the optimum angle”

        Indeed they’re not (presumably in an attempt to give a more even spread of generation throughout the day). But that just makes my calculation even more damming!

  12. GeoffB permalink
    December 1, 2020 1:25 pm

    Heres my comment on the telegraph…. its got 18 likes!

    Geoff Be
    1 Dec 2020 10:01AM
    It is not 100% renewable, it is whatever is on the grid at the time, the lie is backed up with paid for green certificates from Norway’s hydro power and burning wood. It is expensive compared to domestic costs of electricity, it takes a lot longer to charge an EV than fill an ICE. It is a lot more expensive in terms of capital costs than a conventional fuel station. These are facts, if this is regarded as a negative comment by some on here, OK but it is the truth, no point in denying.

    EVs have problems, the carbon footprint of making the battery is huge and it is generally accepted that the breakeven between EV and ICE carbon emissions is 50000 miles about 5 years driving. The European motor industry will be destroyed putting millions out of work, EVs will be all made in China and India using coal powered electricity. The greens will have achieved nothing except destroying our standard of living and millions of job.

    • spetzer86 permalink
      December 1, 2020 5:02 pm

      Shh, that last sentence is supposed to be a secret.

    • MikeHig permalink
      December 1, 2020 5:03 pm

      GeoffB: “It is not 100% renewable, it is whatever is on the grid at the time”
      It’s actually worse than that!
      The grid prioritises renewables over everything except nuclear. That means all of the renewable output at any given moment is always allocated. So, when an incremental demand appears – plugging in an EV, say – there will not be any renewable power spare to supply it. It will be met by gas or possibly coal.
      When assessing the “climate benefits” of EVs, the key metric is the CO2 intensity of incremental power. The exception is chargers which have their own, dedicated renewable source – wind/sun + storage, for example. That appears to be the case here but this is probably unique.

  13. Mack permalink
    December 1, 2020 1:44 pm

    I wonder whether they’ve installed a sneaky little diesel generator behind the wall to the left of the forecourt. You know, just in case…..

  14. David Bean permalink
    December 1, 2020 1:49 pm

    Perhaps the £5 million could alternatively be described as ” £5 million more debt taken on by the squanderbugs of government , on behalf of children as yet unborn ” . And while the profligate fools at Westminster would claim that those future generations would be grateful for their actions , if those taxpayers – to – come were aware that production of just the battery of , for instance , the Tesla Model S releases 17.5 tons of CO2 , the equivalent of running a medium – sized petrol car for eight years , and that the expected battery life ( and consequently the life of the whole car) of the Tesla is eight years , and that most of the electricity used to power it , whatever the claims of proponents of the ” carbon – neutral ” scam , will result in yet more CO2 emissions , perhaps the expected roar of gratitude would be somewhat lessened .
    I wonder what the actual carbon footprint of each re – charge of an electric car is ?

  15. Ian Magness permalink
    December 1, 2020 2:04 pm

    Do we know what they will charge (I assume per kWh)? Unless it’s massively (and I mean more than £5m) subsidised, they’ll surely have to charge way over domestic costs, so that reduces the regular users by a good 2/3 I would imagine.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      December 1, 2020 3:56 pm

      A family member has found out that “Fast Chargers” typically cost double the normal domestic rate – she paid 34p/kWhr recently. I told her to only use a fast charger to put sufficient “juice” in to complete the journey, then complete the process at home on a household socket or 7kW wall box. This is also much kinder to the batteries, which will only take the maximum rate until about 90% charged, then taper off until full. The remainder can take several hours, so there’s no point paying through the nose for it.

  16. roger permalink
    December 1, 2020 2:05 pm

    The economics of the food and other outlets are dodgy too, given the maximum hourly throughput of vehicles

  17. Ian Wilson permalink
    December 1, 2020 2:08 pm

    “Powered by solar and batteries” Better not try it in a winter overcast spell or long nights.

  18. theguvnor permalink
    December 1, 2020 2:31 pm

    OT. Have you seen this Paul. 6 students taking 33 countries to ECHR for them to prove that the nations lack of action on climate change isn’t affecting these individuals human rights:

    • December 1, 2020 3:05 pm

      That will get thrown out. The onus should be on them to prove that lack of action is affecting them.

    • Ariane permalink
      December 1, 2020 5:02 pm

      Yes, dreadful. It’s my human right to have the cheapest energy available. As for the scientists…0.00065% of total Earth atmosphere is anthropogenic CO2. No true scientist would say we have to ‘decarbonise.’ Also, the EU’s Barnier has said: “The British have accepted the prerequisites that we put down on the European Convention on Human Rights. We can now finalise those points.” Boris Johnson has surrendered this to the EU.

  19. December 1, 2020 2:33 pm

    Charging a battery from another battery. The farce gets more risible every year.

  20. Dave Ward permalink
    December 1, 2020 3:59 pm

    Some good comments here:

  21. MrGrimNasty permalink
    December 1, 2020 4:23 pm

    Ofsted chief inspector on the pressures from activists to politicize teaching with trendy social issues:-

    “I think if it is not grounded in science there is no real understanding underneath it, it becomes a morality tale or something quasi-religious……..It is really important that people have a grounded understanding so that they can think about that in the context of career choices and in the context of their own personal behaviour. That helps people take rational decisions, not just emotional positions.”

    Climate scientist responds:-

    “Bring me her head on a spike.” Probably.

    Needless to say, the BBC majors on abuse/neglect and ignores her comments on this issue completely.

  22. December 1, 2020 5:13 pm

    Just listened to this afternoon’s Costing the Earth . Typical annoying biased BBC. EVs are cheaper to maintain, last longer, generally better. All EVs are automatic so easy to drive apparently (didn’t know that but not an attraction for me). No problems. Unbelievable. Opposition is all fossil fuel funded. Last part is electric bikes but I’ve given up.

  23. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    December 1, 2020 5:15 pm

    £5m “down the pan”, I think the Brits say. Translation: a wealth destroyer.

    My wife uses “Down the Swanee’ “; she, from Atlanta, Georgia – has relatives from down where the Swanee River gets it start at the Okefenokee Swamp. Great place.

    _ _ _ _ _
    Such chargers will be installed at places such as this …

    Photo: Interstate 80, Travel Plaza

    Companies and investors pay. Local, regional, and National governments benefit.
    I can fill my Subaru – on/off the interstate highway in about 7 minutes – then drive 400 miles. Potty stops intrude.

    These places have extensive parking, food, showers, and entertainment (long-haul truckers are the main draw). Oh, they also sell fuel.

  24. BLACK PEARL permalink
    December 1, 2020 7:08 pm

    If the ‘vision’ of electric transport ever becomes a reality, what is the UK going to do with 30 – 40 million dead batteries every 5 -7 years ?

  25. Stargrazzer permalink
    December 1, 2020 7:23 pm

    CO2 not Carbon emissions, IMO we should not fall into the Alarmist Misnomered Language, they don’t know the difference (we don’t called Water Hydrogen now do we?); there’s no such thing as CarbonFootprint either unless we walk the coals.

    All these misnomers are made to sound like CO2 is somehow dirty, when it’s a vital photosynthesising colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas.

  26. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 1, 2020 7:39 pm

    They paved paradise and put up an EV charging lot and solar farm.

    • John Palmer permalink
      December 2, 2020 8:14 pm

      Dear old Joni!

  27. Diogenese permalink
    December 1, 2020 8:17 pm
    looks like blackouts are on the way .
    ” Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday that electricity consumption will double if the world’s car fleets are electrified, “

  28. st3ve permalink
    December 1, 2020 9:25 pm


    The electric service station houses 30 EV chargers, including six Tesla Superchargers.

    Twelve of the other chargers are capable of operating at up to 350kW, adding 200 miles of range to a car in as little as 20 minutes. (& presumably 12 ‘other speed’ bays).
    …As for the inevitably required backup ‘grid’….
    The company {Gridserve} owns the Clayhill Solar Farm in Bedfordshire, which provides the energy for the Braintree Electric Forecourt.

    FYI: Those panel sizes look like 1m x 0.6m, judging by the scale of cars nearby. 300W/panel would be 1.6×1.0 m units, so these look more like 112W [0.6×300/1.6].
    (Of course, if someone passing could measure up close, we could get some more accurate facts down? Volunteers?)

  29. Coeur de Lion permalink
    December 1, 2020 9:59 pm

    The IONITI consortium charges 0.69euros per kWh around Europe, rather adjusting the old ‘but see how much I save on fuel’. Worked out that the Nissan Leaf depreciates at £13.60 a day

  30. st3ve permalink
    December 1, 2020 10:35 pm

    From Braintree Council meeting minutes: The proposal would provide 24 electric vehicle charging points with 12 ultrarapid (150kW with under 30 minute charge time) and 12 rapid (50kW with over 30 minute charge time) charging speeds available and would be able to cater for all vehicle types including HGV’s. {So peak power potentially of 2.4MW – that’s a lot of Amps – around 10 thousand at 240volts! – I wonder if there would need to be charge sharing (!) & hence NOT 20mins, but maybe ?40 ?60?}

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