BT Group’s Innovative Step: Repurposing Street Cabinets into EV Charging Units

Hand is charging an electric car vehicle or EV at home charger.
Hand is charging an electric car vehicle or EV at home charger.

Revitalising Street Cabinets

BT Group is set to power up its first repurposed green street cabinet as an electric vehicle (EV) charging unit in East Lothian in the upcoming weeks. This marks the beginning of a series of UK-wide trials to investigate the feasibility of converting up to 60,000 cabinets, traditionally used for broadband and phone cabling storage, into EV chargers.

Addressing the EV Charging Dilemma

The trials aim to address the current shortage of EV chargers on UK roads, a concern for many potential electric vehicle buyers. BT Group’s research indicates that 60% of people believe the country’s EV charging infrastructure is insufficient, with only 53,000 on-road charge points available. Additionally, 78% of current petrol and diesel drivers identify the difficulty in charging an electric vehicle as a hurdle to purchasing one.

How the Charging Solution Works

The innovative charging solution involves retrofitting street cabinets with a device that enables renewable energy to be channelled to a charge point alongside the existing broadband service, eliminating the need for a new power connection. The EV charging facilities can be installed in cabinets that are either still in use for broadband services or those due for retirement, depending on the space and power available to the unit.

Future-Proofing Broadband Cabinets

As the UK-wide full fibre rollout progresses and the cabinets are no longer required for broadband, the broadband equipment can be recycled and additional EV charge points can be added. The trials are facilitated by Etc., BT Group’s startup and digital incubation arm. Etc. will examine a variety of technical, civil planning, operational, and commercial considerations for activating the EV charge point network.

A Step Towards a Sustainable Future

Tom Guy, the managing director of BT Group’s Etc., views this new charging solution as a significant stride towards making EV charging more accessible. He emphasises the importance of working closely with local councils in Scotland and across the UK, to address the customer problem at the core of their wider purpose to connect for good. This initiative forms part of their mission to develop products and services that cater to future needs, with a focus on positive transformation.

Recognition for Innovation

The initiative has been recognised as an Innovation Honoree for 2024 in outstanding design and engineering at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), an annual U.S.-based trade show where new technologies and products are showcased.

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