Britain’s BT to turn street cabinets into EV charging points

LONDON (Reuters) – BT, Britain’s biggest telecoms group, said it would convert the first of its street cabinets traditionally used to house cabling to an electric vehicle (EV) charging unit in a pilot that could lead to a network of 60,000 new points.

The first unit will be installed at a cabinet in East Lothian, Scotland, BT said on Monday, adding that it will roll out further trials across Britain in the coming months.

BT said its research showed a shortage of chargers on Britain’s roads was deterring some people from buying an EV, with 38% of drivers saying they would have an EV already if charging were less of an issue.

There were 53,906 EV charging points across the UK at the end of December, according to figures quoted by BT from Zapmap. The government wants to increase the number to 300,000 by the 2030s.

Tom Guy, managing director of BT’s start-up arm Etc, 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.

“Working closely with local councils in Scotland and more widely across the UK, we are at a critical stage of our journey in tackling a very real customer problem that sits at the heart of our wider purpose to connect for good.” 

BT said it would retrofit the cabinets to add a charge point alongside the existing broadband service with no need to create a new power connection.

EV charging can be deployed in cabinets used for current copper broadband services, or in those due for retirement, depending on the space and power available, it added.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton)