Addressing Local Air Quality
Southampton City Council have just completed the installation of 30 electric vehicle chargepoints in the city centre multi-storey car parks. The scheme is part of a wider city council programme on clean transport aimed at improving air quality in the region by reducing particulates and NOx emissions, which includes encouraging public transportation and reducing idling engines. Councillor Christopher Hammond outlines the case : “We’ve been one of 5 places in the UK identified as having an air quality issue, so addressing this is a priority for our local sustainable transport agenda. We’re working extremely hard to improve local air quality in Southampton and encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles is a very important part of our strategy.”
The idea behind the EV charging station programme is to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles in the region by making public charging infrastructure more visible. When the public can see that there is a wide network of public EV charging stations, it reduces range anxiety and encourages the purchase of EVs. As EVs become more widely adopted this will have positive knock on consequences for air quality, as well as lower CO2 emissions from a climate change perspective. “We’re also encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles by offering a 90% reduction in parking charges, and we’re consulting on making the Itchen Bridge toll-free for electric cars.”
EV chargepoints for public car parks
Southampton City Council settled on 5 central multi-storey car parks for the first phase of their EV charge station programme, with 6 chargepoints installed at each location. The sites have high usage, and comparatively long stay times, which means the chargepoints will have good utilisation. Additionally, electricity already existed on site, and new grid supplies did not need to be installed. This allowed a quick turnaround on the project, and Joju completed the project around in 6 weeks from contract award to commissioning and handover.
The council chose New Motion smart chargers for the project for three main reasons. First, they offer dynamic load balancing, which allows available power to be smartly allocated between cars without overloading the electrics. Joju Operations Director, Joe Gabriel, explains: “We’ve installed a 22kW 3-phase connection at each site to power the 6 chargers. If one car is charging, this will receive the full 22kW, equivalent to a 3-phase fast charger. If three cars are charging, each will receive 7.2 kW, equivalent to a normal fast home charger. And if all 6 bays are in use simultaneously this drops to 3.6kW. It means we can be certain we won’t overload the wires if there’s a high charging demand.” The units also allow users to access via a smart card, and although the scheme will be free initially, in future it will allow the council to make a small charge to the users. Third, the council also liked the “simple, sleek, smart and subtle” look of the New Motion units, which were considered less gaudy than other alternatives.
Smooth Project Management
Although the works were broadly straightforward, the scheme wasn’t without operational challenges. The Marlands site had an old electrical fuseboard which required shutting down by the grid operator so we could safely make the connection. A 2-hour slot was scheduled to make the connection, during which time all lifts in the multi-storey were out of action. The Joju team managed the flow of people and cars during this time to ensure that customer visits were as hassle free as possible while the works were carried out.
Rob Gloyns, Clean Air Zone Project Officer commented: “We were grateful for Joju’s smooth project management as it allowed the council to take a more hands-off approach to the delivery phase. They have been extremely straightforward to deal with, and we’ve known exactly who at Joju has been dealing with what.”
Just the Beginning
Councillor Hammond sums up the first phase of the scheme “We’ve been very pleased with the partnership we’ve built with Joju to install these units – it’s been a seamless piece of project delivery, completed to a very high standard.” The programme can now focus on expanding the scheme to other areas of the city, including ground car parks and on-street parking. Joju have also recently won a tender for the installation of EV chargepoints across Hampshire, so the Southampton scheme will be integrated with a wider EV charging station roll-out across the county.