EV does it: what are HyperHubs, and how are they revolutionizing EV charging?
A HyperHub in York, UK, is a cluster of rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargers with their own renewable power source. It could pave the way for EV city charging everywhere.
What is the number one obstacle for would-be EV drivers? If you said being able to charge them, then a recent innovation could prove you wrong.
In York, UK, two clusters of rapid chargers known as a HyperHubs, complete with solar-paneled roofs, now offer fast charging to EV drivers. They are available in two locations — Monks Cross and Poppleton — and a third site is on its way.
Andrew Leadbetter, who leads EV strategy for the City of York Council, told HERE360: “What we've done at Monks Cross is show that rapid and ultra-charging can be done at a tariff that is attractive to people."
The Monks Cross site uses electricity from an unconstrained grid connection, meaning the site takes as much as it needs from the grid. That power is supplemented with extra energy from solar panels and an on-site battery. This allows the charging to be sold at a cheaper price than would otherwise be possible.
Meanwhile, the Poppleton site takes electricity from a restricted connection. Extra power from solar panels is stored in an on-site battery.
“We think the HyperHub concept could work in other parts of the UK. Any local authority that wants to have a look at what we have done can visit and go through our numbers," Leadbetter said.
He explained that the Poppleton model of a site with a restricted grid connection could be applied to other areas where the grid connection is not big enough, or it would not be economical to increase it. If it can be done in York it could work elsewhere.
Power to the people
Charging for EVs has come a long way. The fast chargers in York, which are similar to the ones people have in their homes, are 7kw and take about eight hours to fully charge a typical car. However, the ultra-fast chargers have 175kw and can achieve an 80% charge in about 20 minutes. Those who leave their vehicles on a fast charger can then take a park-and-ride service into the city, for example, if they are shopping for the day.
“The HyperHubs have been heavily used from day one. We're already seeing that most people are charging for under half an hour," Leadbetter said. “They are using a top-up approach, before getting back on their way as quickly as possible."
York aims to become carbon neutral by 2030 and the council has ambitious plans to achieve this, including a move to 100% electric buses. The HyperHubs were partly funded through the UK government's Office for Low Emissions Vehicles — now the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles. They were also created in partnership with EvoEnergy, who have described them as a “technology showcase."
“We think we are unique [in the UK] in providing everything from fast to rapid charging within a single, publicly-owned network," Leadbetter said. “It provides flexibility and reassurance to the customer, who knows they are going to have a charging option that suits them when they need it."
It is hoped that this confidence in being able to charge as necessary will encourage people who are thinking about buying an EV to take the plunge. York, in the north of the country, is close to the North Yorkshire coast, a significant tourist destination.
“In previous years, if people were going on holiday there, they might have been wary about taking an EV because of the range," Leadbetter explained. Now, the ultra-fast charging options en route make that far less likely.
As the range of new EV models increases and battery innovation continues to break new ground, these vehicles are starting to look a lot more alluring to a huge set of drivers — in York and beyond.
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