UK: Virgin Media to turn street cabinets into EV chargers


Liberty Global revealed details of its plan to utilise the street cabinets of its UK subsidiary, Virgin Media, to supply electric car charging stations. In cooperation with Innovate UK, a consortium is expected to install 1,200 chargers nationwide within the next 18 months.

The project consortium consists of a total of 19 partners, including Vattenfall, Cenex and Loughborough University. The new announcement details an earlier proposal in January that was followed by testing the secondary use for Virgin Media’s broadband cabinets, to harness the infrastructure for EV charging.

Having finished the trial now, Liberty Global claims the rollout of the 1,200 electric vehicle charging stations over the next 18 months will build “a scalable network, helping the UK government move closer to its goal of reducing net carbon emissions to zero by 2050”. Virgin Media owns 40,000 powered street cabinets and 170,000 km of ducts, so there is potential for more. There are further considerations of data management, as the stations would already connect to the company broadband network.

The new network will operate under the name Virgin Media Park & Charge with Vattenfall and SMS to deliver the installation. Other consortial partners include Cenex, Ginger Town, Fully Charged, Connected Kerb, DETA and Loughborough University. This is in addition to several local authorities including the West Midlands Combined Authority as well as Councils in Oxfordshire, Liverpool, Southend on Sea, Worcestershire, Wandsworth, Croydon, Northamptonshire, Hammersmith & Fulham and Belfast.

On-street charging that uses existing street furniture is a trend in the UK with its mostly narrow streets. Projects to repurpose streetlamps for example have been underway in London as well as Brighton. Also in Germany, communication giant Telekom has completed a similar project, eventually planning to use 12,000 of their own street cabinets as electric car charging stations.


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