Oxford City Council with support from the County Council has begun a programme to install about 100 electric vehicle charging stations in Oxford’s residential streets to help people go electric.
The trial is thought to be the first on-street charging pilot of its size in the world, and the University of Oxford has described the project as having “global scientific significance”.
It will see six different charging technologies installed – ranging from cable gullies to retrofitting lamp posts with charging stations – with the aim of finding the best solutions for Oxford residents.
Currently, residents who own electric vehicles and have on-street parking in Oxford’s narrow terraced streets struggle to charge their cars.
The first phase of the project will see 30 charging stations installed. Ten of these will be available for the general public, 10 for Co-wheels Car Club vehicles, and the remaining for individual households.
Installation of the charging stations will begin this month (August) and they will be ready for residents and the general public to use in October 2017. The trial will last for 12 months.
The best solutions from the trial will then be rolled out in approximately 100 sites across Oxford’s residential streets. This is expected to happen in 2018.
Oxford City Council chose the locations after calling for Oxford residents who either owned or wanted to own an electric vehicle to come forward. These 20 volunteers will provide feedback on the chargers as part of the trial.
The network of public chargers will be managed by NewMotion, a Dutch company that brings a wealth of experience from the Netherlands to support the project.
People who wish to use the public chargers can apply to NewMotion for a free charge card and download the NewMotion app for real-time information on where chargers are available.
Co-wheels Car Club plans to introduce 10 new electric cars in Oxford from this autumn, and will use the new charging points to power them. Alongside the project volunteers, Co-Wheels Car Club will also collect feedback on the chargers.
The resident feedback on the charging stations will be collated and analysed by researchers from the University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit (TSU). The results will then be fed back to the Government to inform national and local authority investment in charging stations in the future. The findings will also be shared with the global research community through publications in peer-reviewed academic journals.
Renewable energy company Good Energy will provide power to the public chargers from its network of solar, hydro, wind and biofuel generators. This means electric vehicles using the public charging points will be run entirely on renewable energy.
Private chargers will be run from the residents’ own energy supply.
Oxford City Council, which is managing the project, is working in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council on the scheme.
The project, called Go Ultra Low Oxford (GULO), has been made possible after the City Council and County Council secured an £800,000 grant from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
The Government set up the £40m Go Ultra Low Cities scheme to encourage thousands of people to consider switching to an electric car.
The aim of Go Ultra Low Oxford is to reduce air pollution in the city and further lower the city’s carbon emissions by giving more people the option of driving and owning electric vehicles.
Although work by the City Council and County Council has helped reduce air pollution by an average of 36.9 per cent in the last decade, nitrogen dioxide levels are still above the legal limit in some areas of Oxford.
In July, Oxford City Council joined leaders from cities across England to criticise the Government’s Clean Air Plan, and called for Secretary of State Michael Gove to do more to crack down on polluting vehicles.
Air pollution is estimated to cause 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, according to a report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Councillor John Tanner, City Council Executive Board Member for a Clean and Green Oxford, said: “I’m thrilled that Oxford City Council is leading the delivery of the Go Ultra Low Oxford Project with Oxfordshire County Council.
“This Government-funded project is tackling a real issue for many Oxford residents who would like to drive electric, but can’t have a charger at home because they have no driveway.
“By 2027 more people could be buying electric cars than petrol or diesel, and our project will help us prepare for this future.”
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We are committed to working with partners to facilitate the transition to a low emission fleet in Oxford and Oxfordshire. This is a great project and a great example of using Oxford as a ‘living lab’ to get new ideas on the ground quickly to benefit residents.
“The pilot element of the project is a learning experience – identifying the best charging solutions for different situations and locations and using our assets in better, smarter ways will help minimise costs. We hope to take what we have learnt from this project and look at how we can support on street charging across the whole of Oxfordshire.”
Dr Tim Schwanen, Director of University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit, said: "The project has global scientific significance because we know surprisingly little about how electric vehicle users and local communities adapt to new charging infrastructure, especially if this is provided on residential streets where availability of a parking space is not guaranteed."
Richard Falconer, Managing Director of Co-wheels Car Club, said: “There is a lot of interest from our Oxford members to have more electric vehicles on our fleet so this project is a brilliant opportunity.
“Many Co-wheels members don’t want to add another car to our busy roads and would rather use a shared vehicle when they really need one, now they have the option to reduce the impact on our environment even more by using a zero emission car.”