Gareth Huw Davies

Green Technology

UK drivers to plug into the sun

Britain’s first solar powered electric car charger  (the eTap) will open next month (July 2011) at the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME) at Rainham, Essex.

Charge you car – straight from the sun

Motorists will pay £1 to plug in at one of the six charging points under the solar panel roof, and then 63p for every hour the electric vehicle (EV) is being charged there with power directly from the sun. A three-hour charge will cost about £2.90 and give a range of around 47 miles. To travel the same distance in a similar-sized conventional car would cost about £5.90.

There is already a solar charger for cars in the USA and plans to bring them in elsewhere.

It’s appropriate that the facility is being installed, by solar company Use The Sun, at the CEME, an education and business park in the heart of the Thames Gateway. The eTap is capable of topping up an electric car’s range by about 15 miles for each hour it is plugged in. When the sun isn’t shining, the charger draws power from the National Grid.

The cost of buying and installing a six-bay eTap is about £55,000. Use The Sun managing director Charles Montlake claims it would cover its cost in 10 years.

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