Graeme Paton writes on The Times website about the conversion of one street in the Maida Vale district of London. Petrol and diesel cars are now banned from a 350m stretch of road in Britain for the first time under the toughest measures yet introduced to combat air pollution.
Clean air for all: Lampposts to charge electric cars
An “electric avenue” has been developed where lampposts have been converted into chargers for battery-powered cars.
In what is thought to be the first of its kind, a street in the capital has been transformed into a hub for the vehicles to promote their use in residential areas. Twenty-four lampposts over a half-mile stretch of Sutherland Avenue in Maida Vale, northwest London, have been converted to contain chargepoints, allowing residents without driveways to power up electric vehicles overnight.
The project, led by Siemens, which was completed yesterday, is the first time a street has been fully converted to cater for on-street car charging.
The conversion comes amid concerns that a perceived shortage of public chargers may be preventing many motorists from ditching petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric vehicles. The majority of charging is done at home but this can be practically impossible for many people living in flats without a dedicated parking space or homeowners on residential streets without their own driveway.
Figures published this month showed that 6,500 new electric cars were sold in the first two months of this year, more than triple the number in the same period in 2019. However, they still make up only 2.9 per cent of new cars in the UK and experts say that a significant upsurge in charging infrastructure is needed to push sales.
The Times has lobbied for improvements as part of its Clean Air for All campaign, which has called for a phase out of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. The government is committed to restrictions in at least 2035.
The use of lampposts is seen as a highly efficient way to expand charging on inner-city roads. Posts have an existing electricity supply, meaning that companies do not have to dig up the road to lay new cables.
Most lampposts use new energy efficient LEDs, which means that additional energy can be fed from the supply without turning off the street light.
All charging equipment is housed within the post and motorists plug in vehicles to a powerpoint. Charging wires are locked at each end, meaning that passers-by cannot disconnect vehicles. The 5.5kW chargers typically take eight to ten hours to charge a vehicle.
It is designed for slow charging rather than the far more powerful rapid chargepoints that can power up a battery in only half an hour but require a significant upgrade to the supply.
The project, carried out with Ubitricity, an energy company, and Westminster city council, forms part of a wider introduction across the borough. In all, 296 lampposts have been converted in the borough,
Cedrik Neike, of Siemens’s Smart Infrastructure, said: “Half of London’s air pollution is caused by road transport.”
He added that the “electric avenue is an important showcase of what’s possible using existing city infrastructure”. He said: “It illustrates how residential streets will look in the near future, and accelerates the shift to zero emission vehicles.”
Ubitricity UK said: “Lamppost charging gives people without driveways a very convenient, low cost, renewable, energy-friendly way to charge their EVs. Cars spend 95 per cent of their lives idle, so it makes sense to charge them while the driver is doing something else, like sleeping.”
City street is open only to green vehicles
Petrol and diesel cars will be banned from a 350m stretch of road in Britain for the first time from tomorrow under the toughest measures yet introduced to combat air pollution.
Beech Street, which mostly runs in a tunnel under the Barbican Estate in the City of London, will become a zero-emission stretch at all times to cut levels of nitrogen dioxide, which is linked to breathing difficulties and early death. Drivers of pure combustion engine cars face £130 fines for entering the road, which regularly has levels of air pollution above legal limits. Only zero-emission vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists will be allowed to use the street. The restrictions will be policed by automatic numberplate recognition cameras.
Bristol council recently announced plans to ban all private diesel cars from a city centre zone during weekdays and other cities such as York, Oxford, Birmingham and Leeds will impose their own measures.