Drivers will soon be able to charge electric cars using containers and streetlights as ministers examine proposals to turn ordinary street objects into “smart” versions.
Drivers will soon be able to charge their electric cars using containers and streetlights, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Government ministers are examining proposals to convert ordinary street objects into “smart” versions, which can offer free Wi-Fi and 5G, and charge the car.
A pilot scheme has been launched in which six councils across the UK have received funding to find new uses for ‘street furniture’.
They will begin by installing streetlights with free internet access and electric vehicle charging, as well as developing ways to convert other objects.
Ministers have confirmed this includes ‘smart bins’, where current street bins would be upgraded to allow people to charge their cars and use the internet.
Other street furniture that could be converted includes benches, bus stops, traffic lights and CCTV columns, the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology said.
Drivers will soon be able to charge their electric cars using containers and streetlights, The Mail on Sunday can reveal (file image)
Industry experts welcomed the plans and said innovation and more public charging points are key to wider take-up of electric cars.
But critics have questioned the viability of the plan. South Thanet Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, who heads the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, said this amounted to “greenwashing”. In an article in the MoS, Mr Mackinlay said: “It is an unworkable solution that is nowhere near the magnitude of the need for high-power chargers, if electric vehicles really had a monopoly on the roads.”
‘At the heart of the policy is an obsession with a nationwide shift towards electric vehicles… but a key problem is that it appears Britain will not have enough effective charging points to support this shift. This was one of the reasons for the Prime Minister’s decision to delay the target of phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035.
The pilot scheme will receive a total of £1.3 million of Government funding awarded to Cambridgeshire, Tees Valley, Westminster in London, Kingston upon Thames, North Ayrshire and Oxfordshire councils.
Plans would involve digging streets to connect objects to the network. This would be less harmful to objects that already use electricity, such as streetlights.
Ministers have confirmed this includes ‘smart bins’, where current street bins would be upgraded to allow people to charge their cars and use the internet (file image)
Edmund King, president of the AA, said streetlights, bins and benches could provide options for rural drivers and people who do not have their own charging points, but added that such street objects would be slow chargers.
“People shouldn’t be expected to stop and charge in 20 minutes,” he said. ‘But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Slow charging is more profitable.”
And he added: “One of the advantages of using existing street furniture is that you don’t want to clutter the streets. [with extra charge points].’
‘We need a lot of innovation and new ideas. Whether you like it or not, this is a new dawn.
Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan told the Ministry of State: “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to make the most of advances in science and technology.
“Smart streetlights are the first step towards everyday infrastructure playing a full role in building a better future for the UK.”