A pilot scheme aims to extend the usefulness of near end-of-life green street cabinets as EV charge points, with up to 60,000 earmarked to tackle the national shortfall in infrastructure.

Etc. – the digital incubation arm at BT Group – is powering up its first EV charging unit built from a street cabinet traditionally used to store broadband and phone cabling.

The announcement marks the first step in the rollout of new technical trials, exploring the potential to upgrade up to 60,000 cabinets and decarbonise the national transport system.

The first installation is in East Lothian, Scotland, with further pilots across the UK in the coming months.

Whilst the government’s ambitions are to increase the number of charge points from 53,000 today to 300,000 by 20305, access to charging is already a significant barrier to EV sales.

Through the trials, Etc. will scope a range of different technical, commercial and operational considerations, including:

  • Technical – cabinet location, power availability, customer accessibility, digital customer experience and engineering considerations
  • Civil planning – location, local council engagement, permissions and physical accessibility
  • Commercial – public funding options, private investment, partnership, and wider financial modelling to establish a route to commercial benefit for the Group
  • Operational – as a dedicated BT Group venture or in partnership with others

The cabinets are retrofitted to allow renewable energy to be shared to a charge point alongside the existing broadband service, with no need for a new power connection.

EV charging can be deployed to cabinets that are in use for current copper broadband services, or in those due for decommissioning, depending on space and power available.

Once the cabinet is no longer needed for broadband, as nationwide full fibre rollout progresses, the broadband equipment is recycled, and additional EV charge points can be added.

Whilst the pilot is being rolled out in the UK, EV charging infrastructure is a global challenge. The US, for example, has only 160,000 public EV chargers to serve over 2.4 million electric vehicles.

Tom Guy, Managing Director, Etc. at BT Group, says, “Our new charging solution is a huge step in bringing EV charging kerbside and exploring how we can address key barriers customers are currently facing.

“This is a key step in our mission to build products and services right now that work for the future, with positive transformation at the heart.”

Watch a short film about EV Charger installation here.