Could BT’s green boxes get a new lease of life as on-street chargers?

Pilot project aims to ‘upcycle’ 60,000 existing cabinets as part of the EV charging revolution

BT green box EV charger

The green kerbside BT boxes traditionally used for broadband and phone cables could be repurposed for on-street electric car charging, if a newly announced technical trial proves the project’s feasibility.

The scheme has been developed by Etc., the so-called ‘startup and digital incubation arm’ of the BT Group, which says it will power-up its first EV charging unit converted from a street cabinet today (8 Jan).

If successful, the project could open the way for up to 60,000 green boxes – currently used for copper broadband and phone cabling that’s being phased out as part of the UK’s upgrade to full fibre connections – to be used for powering nearby on-street charge points. That figure suggests another 30,000 redundant boxes will ultimately disappear from the streets as part of the full fibre upgrade, to the possible consternation of the UK’s population of graffiti artists, not to mention territorial dogs.

On a more serious note, the project has been designed to help solve the UK’s EV infrastructure needs, by helping to address the lack of charge points for drivers who can’t charge at home. BT Group says its own research suggests that more than a third of drivers would have an EV already if charging was less of an issue, with 78 per cent of the ICE drivers saying inconvenient charging was a barrier to making the switch. 

The new system works by retro-fitting cabinets with a device allowing energy to be shared to nearby charge points, without the need for expensive and time-consuming new grid connections. Etc. says the tech can be deployed within boxes that are due for retirement or those that are already redundant, as well as being fitted inside those that are still being used to house copper broadband services. In the latter case, once the broadband equipment is retired, more power will be available for additional charge points.

The first green cabinet public charger has been installed in East Lothian, Scotland, with more pilot locations planned elsewhere in the UK this year.

Click here for our list of the best electric cars on sale right now...

Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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