The Day Portsmouth Launched on Street Charging

Electric Instructor Charging Nissan Leaf

The on street chargers in Portsmouth are being installed. It resulted in me attending a launch for the media at the first charge point installed as well as being interviewed on the radio.

Lamp Posts Charge Cars

This is really good news the charge points are going in. The one across the road from me is still two green paint marks on the kerb with red paint marks on the pavement and lamp post, it should be installed over the next week.

The first of the 37 has been installed and Portsmouth City Council arranged a media launch with council employees, the councillor and representatives of Ubitricity involved in the project attending. Oh, and yours truly had an invite. As a result of this invite I also had an invite to do an interview on the Julian Clegg breakfast show on BBC Radio Solent the same day.

On the Radio

Electric Instructor at BBC Portsmouth
My Radio Moment at BBC Portsmouth

My day began with a visit to the BBC Portsmouth studio in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth’s dockside shopping and entertainment destination. I left the Leaf in the underground car park connected to a Polar destination charger and went to the studio. It’s above a row of restaurants with a glass front facing out towards the busy entrance to the port. There was a room to one side where I sat in front of a microphone with headphones on linked to the Southampton studio. Then I was live on air. It was a unique experience. Every time Julian asked a question I had a moment when my inner voice said “oh no I have to say something sensible”. Despite this it all went well.

First Charge Point Installed

Electric Instructor Portsmouth EV Charging
From left to right: James Everley (ubitricity), Hayley Chivers (Portsmouth City Council), Glen Arnold (resident) Colin Martin (resident), Alexi Stone-Peters (ubitricity) and Cllr Lynne Stagg (Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport).

Then later the same day to the media launch at the first roadside charging point. The key people who have made this happen were there. It was a proud moment for all involved. I was interviewed by Portsmouth Council,¬†Portsmouth News and the local BBC TV crew which involved me being on BBC South Today news reports the following Tuesday. They filmed me arriving and driving into the charging space with my driving school roof box on the car. Another inner voice moment “no pressure, don’t hit the kerb”.

Building Charging Infrastructure

These charging points are a significant statement of intent by Portsmouth that it recognises the future is in electric vehicles. If people want to live, work and use cars and vans in a city like Portsmouth where off street parking is rare, a charging infrastructure has to be built.

The solution is elegant. Sockets in lamp posts. If the lamp post is to the back of the pavement¬†small roadside posts are installed by the kerb and wired to the lamp post under the pavement. They’re easily used by scanning a QR code on a plate on the street lamp or by plugging in a special Smart Cable bought from Ubitricity. Using the smart cable means Ubitricity recognise the cable for billing so charging starts immediately and the electricity is priced at a lower rate. Scanning the QR code requires payment details to be entered on your phone. Updating to LED street lamps makes this all possible as there is spare capacity in the infrastructure to charge cars because the LED lights consume a lot less electricity.

Early Adopter

Electric cars have been with us a few years now so I wouldn’t consider myself an early adopter of the technology. The cars and vans that are about to be launched show the car manufacturers commitment to an electric future with a lot of longer range more mainstream models. I do, however, consider myself an early adopter of an electric car, in an urban environment, without permanent off street parking, an emerging public charging network and using it for driver training.

Doing a reasonably high mileage these charge points will make a big difference to my life as an EV owner. For nearly a month now I’ve had to rely on the single rapid charger in the city and sit in the car while it charges for 30 to 40 minutes daily. Returning home and connecting to an overnight charge will make my Leaf as convenient as using a fossil fuelled car, probably more so. The roadside chargers are the reason I bought the Leaf and I’d like to congratulate Portsmouth City Council for the initiative and hope this is the beginning of an EV future for the residents of Portsmouth and Southsea.

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