BT To Retrofit Roadside Cabinets As EV Chargers

bt street cabinet ev charger

BT Group set to convert first green roadside cabinet into EV charger to address deficiencies in UK electric vehicle infrastructure

BT Group this month is to convert its first green roadside cabinet for use in powering an electric vehicle (EV) charging point under a pilot scheme aimed at addressing deficiencies in UK EV infrastructure.

The telecoms company’s digital incubation unit Etc is to power up the first charging point in East Lothian in Scotland as part of a UK-wide trial, first announced in July, that could expand to up to 60,000 cabinets.

The UK government has a goal of rolling out 300,000 public chargers by 2030, from 53,000 today, according to figures from Zapmap, which says nearly one-third of the UK’s charging points are in London.

BT is aiming to make use of cabinets that are near end-of-life and are due to be decommissioned as the company rolls out fibre directly to premises across the country.

bt electric vehicle ev charging point 02
Image credit: BT Group

Near obsolescence

The cabinets currently house copper telephone and broadband equipment that are no longer needed when premises are connected by fibre.

Etc said it is planning to install between 500 and 600 EV charging points across the UK over the next 18 months as part of the trial.

BT’s networking group Openreach has reached the halfway point in a £15 billion project to roll out full-fibre to 25 million premises by 2026.

The firm’s goal is to reach up to 30 million by the end of 2030.

bt street cabinet
Image credit: BT Group

EV infrastructure

BT research from December found that 60 percent of people thought the UK’s charging infrastructure was inadequate and that 78 percent of petrol and diesel drivers said not being able to charge conveniently was a barrier to buying an EV.

The system works by retrofitting the cabinet with a device that allows renewable energy to be shared from the cabinet’s existing power supply to a nearby charge point.

Cabinets that are still in use supplying telephone and broadband services can provide power to an EV charging point with two sockets, and after networking services have been decommissioned can power additional charging points, BT said

“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,” said Etc managing director Tom Guy.

Petrol sales ban

BT announced the scheme ahead of CES in Las Vegas, which has recognised the initiative for outstanding design and engineering. The conference officially begins on Tuesday.

The government last year delayed a sales ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035, which coincided with the first-ever decline in share of electric cars sold, down to 16.5 percent in 2023 from 16.6 percent in 2022, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The total number of EVs sold increased 18 percent to 315,000, it said.