3ti launches Papilio3 pop-up mini solar car park with electric vehicle (EV) charging

The world’s first pop-up mini solar car park and electric vehicle charging hub has been revealed in the UK. The unit known as Papilio3, which is deployable in just 24 hours, was revealed at the Surrey Research Park in Guildford. 

Papilio3 was developed by 3ti, the UK’s leading designer, installer, funder and operator of Solar Car Parks (SCPs). It’s designed to tackle the UK’s need to expand electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure ahead of the government’s proposed ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles in 2030

The unit is neatly built around a recycled shipping container and can support up to 12 fast electric vehicle charge points. The solar and battery-boosted charging system optimises the speed of charge and reduces the carbon intensity of electricity used. Papilio3 is available from 3ti on a rental contract and therefore requires no capital investment by customers.

Tim Evans, 3ti CEO and  founder, said: “Overnight charging at home generally provides the most cost-effective, carbon-efficient, sustainable form of EV charging, but in the UK, around 50 percent of households will not be able to do this.

“If you live in a flat, a tower block, a rented house, in temporary accommodation or even in a £10 million terraced townhouse in Chelsea, you’re probably not going to be able to charge an EV at home.   

“We believe that solar and battery boosted destination and workplace charging will become the best EV charging solution for drivers, irrespective of the type of home they live in.

“By utilising dwell times of several hours, when cars are parked at work or when the driver is visiting a shopping or leisure venue, for example, 3ti’s system ensures that EVs can achieve a level of charge that covers day to day driving needs and does it in the lowest carbon way.”

Papilio3 is fitted with three modular canopies that support 36 solar panels and has battery storage capacity of up to 250kWh. It has been developed by 3ti with Cambridge Design Partners. It has been designed for roll-out at workplaces and public destinations such as hospitals, hotels, meeting venues, sports or shopping centres, tourist attractions and town centres. 

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Each unit offers sheltered, illuminated and secure parking, plus a convenient, available and reliable charging experience that supports a mixture of 7, 11 and 22 kilowatts.

Evans added: “Widespread adoption of SCPs will turn under-utilised spaces into renewable energy generating assets, and adding batteries and EV charge points will accelerate decarbonisation of the UK’s transport sector.

“Allowing businesses to generate renewable energy right outside their front door not only gives them greater control of energy costs, it also makes a huge statement that they are serious about tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions. 

“By deploying fast charge points, up to 12 at a time, with Papilio3, we will provide much needed, cost-effective charge point infrastructure and expand the UK’s network of public EV charge points.” 

Papilio3 integrates three technologies that are more usually considered individually. These include solar photovoltaic electricity generation, battery energy storage systems (BESS) and electric vehicle charge points. 

Combining the three offers a range of benefits, including the ability to use grid energy, solar power and battery storage to optimise the speed and carbon intensity of charging. Onsite renewable energy generation from solar panels also reduces energy costs and gives businesses greater control over energy supply.  

According to Evans, Papilio3 isn’t just about providing the UK with a broader range of charge points. It also focuses on the capture and management of renewable energy as a way of reducing the country’s draw on carbon-intensive energy for electric vehicle charging at peak times.

Long lead times caused by complex planning approvals and investment requirements were traditional barriers to SCP installations. Papilio3 units are owned by 3ti, provided on a monthly rental basis and require limited approvals. This means they overcome these hurdles by enabling a 24-hour deployment and installation time and requiring no capital investment by customers.

Mark Potter, 3ti CTO, said: “One of the best things about owning an EV is that you don’t have to visit a petrol station to fill up. As EV drivers, we want to charge when we stop, not stop to charge. 

“Rapid charging with 50-250kW is fine for en-route charging during long journeys, but it’s not the right solution for regular use. It increases battery degradation and pushes up electricity prices for everyone, not just those who are charging. 

“If you can’t charge at home, it’s best to charge when you arrive at where you’re going. Cars are parked 95 percent of their time – that’s when and where they should be charged. Destination and workplace charging is a more sustainable option, better value and more convenient.

“The three technologies integrated in Papilio3 enable the system to store and use the cleanest, lowest-cost energy from its own solar panels and the grid supply. That means we can reduce the demand on peak hours grid energy without compromising EV charging speed.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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