By on January 7, 2022

Around these parts, and in most locations across the country, some fuel stations are busying themselves with squeezing a couple of EV charging stations along the perimeter of their property to supplement the gas and diesel pumps already in existence. Across the pond, one conglomerate is taking things a step further in some areas, planning wholesale changes in which they swap pumps for plugs.

Shell UK is calling them EV charging hubs, stations that look suspiciously like a traditional fuel stop and convenience store but with Level 3 chargers in place of traditional gas pumps. This rendering is of a spot in Fulham, central London, where such a conversion is currently underway. When complete, it will feature 10 high-powered, 175kW charge points. These brutes can deliver power many times faster than the typical 50kW Level 3 chargers, which can typically charge a compatible EV from nearly flat to about 80 percent in roughly 30 or 45 minutes.

Retaining the traditional corner store aspect of the equation helps in a couple of ways. First, anyone who’s ever run a fuel station knows the sale of gasoline actually provides a frighteningly small portion of business profits. A small shop permits the purchase of revenue-laden items like snacks and drinks. Second, Shell says there will be a lounge customers can use while waiting for their car to juice itself, providing a comfortable spot in which to wheedle the time and an opportunity for impulse shopping. There will be the typical roadside facilities like a coffee shop.

Hauling one’s EV underneath an expansive canopy (topped with solar panels, natch) beats the tar out of finding a charging port in the back of a gas station by the dumpsters. As all-electric trucks enter the markets – not in the UK, but here – this type of roll-thru design also solves the problem of charging an EV pickup with a trailer in tow.

No, this isn’t going to work everywhere – especially in America where driving distances are often long particularly when compared to the typical UK road trip. However, a case could be made for this type of conversion in some city centers, where the EV take rate is higher and many vehicles are simply used for commutes or maybe the scattered road trip. Hard to believe, I know, but not everyone is like TTAC authors and readers who’ll gladly take on a cross-country drive at the drop of a hat.

Planning permission for the hub was given in Q1 of last year. Shell aims to have the place open for business before this summer rolls around.

[Image: Shell UK]

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63 Comments on “In the UK, Shell is Converting Gas Stations to Charging Centers...”


  • avatar
    dal20402

    The solution isn’t a small store, but a big one. Put this bank of chargers in the back of a Sainsbury’s or Tesco parking lot. That way you don’t need a “lounge”—people are naturally in the store for long enough that fast L3 charging will give them a significant number of miles while they shop.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “175kW charge points”

    Mickey Mouse tier. A dedicated charging location in 2022 should be offering at least 300kW.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed, and I was thinking of the 350 kW points popping up now.

      Also, they should be offering the newer 800 Volt protocol that Hyundai, Porsche, and others are adopting.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    This idea would seem to be a no-brainer for stores like Walmart, Cosco and the like. Install charging centers in the parking areas where people can charge their vehicles and shop.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I think the combo charging/laundromat would work. People without access to home charging in many cases don’t have washers and dryers. Charge while you wash.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Good idea.

      • 0 avatar
        285exp

        Somehow, I don’t think that the Venn diagram of laundromat users and EV owners has much overlap.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          @285exp – LOLOL! Agreed. LOLOL!

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @285exp: Most right now probably do have at-home charging, but apartment dwellers that don’t have access to a plug at night, might not have access to in-home laundry either. I know people in that exact situation.

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            @mcs, I also know people who live in apartments with no chargers or laundry. None of them have EVs. I don’t think the lack of chargers at the area laundromats is the deciding factor in that.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            As EV ownership increases, there will be more apartment dwellers with EVs. For an existing laundromat owner that starts seeing EVs parked in their lots doing laundry, it might be a good time to think about adding a level 3 charger to capture additional revenue. I think as time goes on, that will become a viable model. Again. it’s a good match. People need to do both laundry and charge maybe once a week. Both things will take about an hour.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I’d forego the EV long before I gave up a washer and dryer. Don’t most apartments have laundry facilities? I lived in some real crap holes.and they always had a pay laundry room.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @Art: Just did some quick google searches for laundromats and they do seem to be concentrated in areas I know there are a lot of mult-family rental units.

            Not all are apartment complexes. You have older triple-decker units. Even with apartment complexes, they probably get crowded at certain times. Even if you did have a laundry room in your complex, you probably have to pay to get it done. If you have to pay, might as well go someplace where you can charge your car too if you have to do that.

            I think it’s a situation where individual business owners will start seeing EVs showing up in their lots and realize they can get extra income by getting ChargePoint to put in some stations. It might also be a way of drawing apartment complex dwellers from the complex’s machines to the laundromat’s machines instead.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            You did have to pay, but the difference was the apartment laundry locked and wasn’t open to everyone. As such you could leave your clothes in there and go back to your apartment while your load ran. This was much better than hanging out waiting for your clothes to wash (this was pre internet at your fingertips days so I usually read the car magazines).

            Either way, My quality of life improved noticibly when I moved up to a place with a washer and drier and I would rather drive an old crapbox than go back to a laundry mat.

            I suppose the exception would be the place in Italy I washed at until I got a washer and drier…They had a Golden Tee and Galaga video game set to free play so that passed the time.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        This problem was solved long ago:
        https://youtu.be/Xa8tLm-GNmk

        I don’t understand the need to continually reinvent the wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      This is starting with Target, which is installing Tesla Superchargers at some new stores per Tesla’s Supercharger map. In the Philly metro area, WaWa stores (like 7-11, but with good hoagies) in the suburbs are installing Tesla Superchargers too. I agree it’s a total no-brainer, and should become prevalent soon, hopefully for chargers that work with BEVs other than Teslas.

      I’m interested in a Ford Mach-E, but the ease of charging on road trips is a real concern. With a Tesla, it’s no problem in the Northeast Corridor.

    • 0 avatar

      We already have charging stations in most places including Walmart, Costco and even Walgreens and Safeway and so on and even in front of our office building in Bay ARea CA. Our CEO, CFO etc own Teslas.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    5 of the charging station would be a MegaWatt. Where is all this excess electricity going to come from? 25 charges going full bore at 3 in town Tescos or Aldis would collapse the grid in said UK city. Not to mention the electric water heaters and the newly mandated Heat Pumps running in the winter.

    But… this is the plan, limit charging ability – limits mobility.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      This power can be sold at very high profit margins and still be significantly cheaper than gas. Utilities have much more financial incentive to add capacity for this purpose than for more houses or businesses.

      If I could make just one silly right-wing conspiracy theory go poof it is the one that “they are trying to control you.”

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “newly mandated Heat Pumps ”

        Heat pumps actually cut energy use. They also run year round. I have air heat pumps now and will be switching to geothermal heat pumps, so I’ll use even less power.

        They’ll also probably have grid storage batteries that will charge during off-hours to give a boost. Now, with sodium-ion storage batteries on the market, they won’t cost as much as lithium-ion.

        Power companies are looking at all the money that saudi arabia and OPEC were making off of selling fossil fuels and realize that money can now be flowing their way.

        • 0 avatar
          CaddyDaddy

          Heat Pumps only reduce Electricity use if you are changing over from resistive heat. Natural Gas is the most efficient way to heat homes and water. If the goal is to eliminate fossil fuels, well… Heat Pumps are worthless below 20F. Not all of us live within 20 miles of the Pacific Coast.

          • 0 avatar
            SoCalMikester

            love my natural gas stove, water heater, dryer, central heat. i use as much as i want and the bill never tops $40/mo

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “Heat Pumps only reduce Electricity use if you are changing over from resistive heat.”

            Not true, especially with geothermal heat pumps and the same unit can be used to cool the house in summer at less cost than conventional A/C.

            “If the goal is to eliminate fossil fuels, well… Heat Pumps are worthless below 20F.”

            Only true with air type heat pumps and even then they work down to -15f now. Geothermal heat pumps can keep going at any temp.

            https://www.arcticheatpumps.com/how-cold-climate-heat-pumps-work.html

            “Not all of us live within 20 miles of the Pacific Coast.”

            That’s kind of random? Weren’t we talking about heat pumps? I’m thousands of miles from the Pacific and I have a heat pump.

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            My home in Western Ohio was converted from all-electric with heat pump/resistive heat back-up to natural gas for heat and hot water. My winter utility bill was cut half. The cost of the conversion was very reasonable compared to the installation of geothermal which would have taken, what, 50 years to recover the costs?

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            A little misinformation goes a long way, or maybe not, since we can all see through it.
            Why do people hold on to and promulgate fakery? It’s not ordinary curmedgeonness, there’s an element of dishonesty and malevolence to it as well.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          …or energy use could just get a little cheaper, ya know give the proles a slight break (Fed is destroying their savings and future after all).

      • 0 avatar
        CaddyDaddy

        “This power can be sold at very high profit margins.” This is the antithesis of what a “public utility” is in spirit. These are monopolies where .gov is mandating a new demand where they will fleece customers on mandated infrastructure upgrades with a built in 10% profit.

        “If I could make just one silly right-wing conspiracy theory go poof it is the one that “they are trying to control you.”” …. ah like mRNA jab requirements. Just wait ’till climate change is declared a Public Health Emergency. The foundation has been poured.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The grid isn’t designed for everyone to go full bore anyway, just as the sum of the circuits in your home panel far exceed the main breaker capacity.

      However, assuming the Shell station is running at full bore, it is still going to be a small fraction of the other loads on the local grid. It’s not like they’re powering a single house and a 3 MW Shell station alone.

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    A couple of guys from the battery lab down the road from where I work looked at each other and chuckled when asked about electric propulsion for airplanes. “Never.” was their answer, when asked about when it will be viable. They aren’t much more bullish on road going ev’s.

    I was listening to the radio in Ottawa one day and the commentator was reading off how much energy was being produced by all of the wind and solar generation in Ontario. Most of the turbines were putting out 0 KW. Our one building in Ottawa was using more power than the entire renewable generation sector of Ontario was producing.

    I’m not anti-ev, but the necessary power transmission and generation infrastructure simply isn’t there to cope with mass adoption, and the environmental lobby is going to have to swallow hard and accept the fact that nuclear is the only possible way to generate the amount of power required for any workable ev switchover. When its hot in Ontario we have to voluntarily shut off our equipment to prevent rolling blackouts already, and that’s just to meet AC demands in the summer. Literally, a rain storm in Toronto can sometimes determine whether we can operate at full power in Ottawa.

    We can see in the European power crisis what happens when good intentions clash with reality.

    As always, no one dares to ask where all the money is coming from.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      PepsiCo is installing Megachargers in Modesto CA as we speak, getting ready for their early-production Tesla Semis arriving later this month. Companies like Walmart and Pepsi have a keen interest in reducing handling costs, and they are confident the Semi can help with that.

      How long do you think “mass adoption” of EVs will take? Grid capacity has grown steadily over the last century, and it will continue to do so as the needs increase.

      As for aviation, the challenges are far greater, but small-scale electric planes are already flying, with several efforts underway to commercialize them.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I can’t speak for Europe or Canada but I do expect nuclear will be happening in the US in the next decade.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        Agree I don’t see how we as a country can furnishing our growing needs for electricity especially if we are going to replace ICE with EVs. The amount of energy produced from nuclear especially clean energy would more than meet the US needs for electricity. The costs to build nuclear plants is extremely expensive especially with the regulations. There will always be the safety concerns to the public and the issue with where and how to store the waste. There is not enough energy provided by wind, hydro, and solar to furnish all our electric needs but we should still use those sources where they are feasible. We will still be using coal and natural gas for many many years. As a country we need a comprehensive clean energy plan but that is easier said than done especially with partisan politics and our system of funding political campaigns with corporate funding and lobbyists. Just eliminating ICE without a plan to expand the power grid and infrastructure will not work. Additionally there needs to be more affordable EVs.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “Just eliminating ICE without a plan to expand the power grid and infrastructure will not work”

          That’s true. I like EVs, but I do worry about too rapid of a switchover which would fail. Problems don’t seem to get addressed until they become a crisis.

          There is a way out of this. Newer SMR and micro-reactors don’t have the issues of older traditional designs. But, even though the solutions are there, nothing will happen until we start having problems with electric power supply.

          https://www.westinghousenuclear.com/new-plants/small-modular-reactor

          https://www.energy.gov/ne/advanced-small-modular-reactors-smrs

          https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/first-us-small-modular-boiling-water-reactor-under-development

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff S

            I would agree unfortunately that will take a crisis and probably with that crisis a loss of life. We need to look at all options which would include the micro-reactors. In Kentucky we have had a state initiative that allows public power utilities to put in mini power plants in landfills to capture and use the methane gas. The Toyota manufacturing plant in Georgetown, KY has a pipeline from a nearby landfill that supplies methane gas along with solar panels to supplement their power needs. Toyota still uses the public utility for power but it has lessened the demand for utilities. Yes methane gas has environmental issues but at least using a waste product is better than flaring it off which is still done at landfills to prevent the buildup of methane gas which can cause an explosion. We need to utilize all sources of energy where feasible and reduce the use of coal and eventually natural gas. Geothermal is another source that is being explored for use in the USA.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          No worries, solar is increasing in efficiency every year, and just the Utah desert that isn’t already turned into suburbs for the Mormons could power the entire country. Good storage batteries (also improving by leaps and bounds) would provide the other 18 hours of electricy demand.
          We have enough toxic nuclear waste to last us for the next thousand centuries, we don’t need any more.
          And for what it’s worth, it’s more profitable to put in solar arrays than farm the land. That’s not necessarily good news for the food supply, but there’s no need to worry about where all the electricity will come from.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “And for what it’s worth, it’s more profitable to put in solar arrays than farm the land. ”

            They’re doing both on the same land. It’s called agivoltaics or something like that. They just have to put the panels up high enough to get the farming equipment through. For animals, they can graze sheep, but not goats since apparently, they eat the wiring. But, they can put in panels and still grow crops.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      MACMAC….
      I was in the aircraft / defense / space business. I still read Aviation Week & Space Technology. From time to time they report on electric airplanes. Yes, Electric airplanes are total bullshirt. And will be for 20-30 years.
      #2- Ontario Electricity. You have it better than most brother, you have a high % of electricity generated by Hydro. Wasnt the electric provider once called Ontario Hydro>?

      • 0 avatar
        marcr

        Hey, I read Aviation Week & Space Technology when I was in grade school, too! 8^)

        It’s funny, we already have production electric aircraft in my little niche of the aviation world. Single-seat battery-powered self-launching electric sailplanes have been a thing for nearly 20 years. Now available from multiple manufacturers and in two-seat variations. (There are also ICE and jet powered self-launching sailplanes and they still make some unpowered ones for those still inclined).

        One of those manufacturers has an electric two-seat basic-training aircraft in production. Usable flight duration on a single charge is all of 45 minutes, but that is about the time spent in flight each lesson during the first half of obtaining a private pilot license. Batteries can be recharged in about 90 minutes or can be removed to swap in another set. The two biggest cost drivers in basic flight training are fuel and engine maintenance costs, this will result in significant savings. Watch a video from seven years ago:

        https://www.avweb.com/aviation-news/video-flying-pipistrels-electric-airplane/

        We won’t be traveling coast-to-coast on electric airliners any time soon, but my guess is that we will be seeing electric airplanes move up the spectrum from basic training to small fast short range touring planes, to perhaps the first short haul (200-300 mile range) multi-seat commuter aircraft in the next decade. And, of course, electric VTOL aircraft will likely create their own expansive market niche. It’s only impractical for there to be electric aircraft if one has a very limited view of what an aircraft happens to be.

    • 0 avatar
      Margarets Dad

      “Our one building in Ottawa was using more power than the entire renewable generation sector of Ontario was producing.”

      I hear there’s this thing in Ontario called Niagara Falls.

      Your building uses more energy than Niagara Falls puts out? Must be a hell of a building.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Heat Pumps only reduce Electricity use if you are changing over from resistive heat. Natural Gas is the most efficient way to heat homes and water. If the goal is to eliminate fossil fuels, well… Heat Pumps are worthless below 20F. Not all of us live within 20 miles of the Pacific Coast.

  • avatar
    CaneelBay

    One of the best sentences I have ever read (and so true): “…TTAC authors and readers who’ll gladly take on a cross-country drive at the drop of a hat.”

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Actually if they did the opposite of the “convenient store” and turned the fuel station into a coffeehouse or restaurant it could work *because* of the long recharging time.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    There should be more thought put into charger locations, based upon the type of housing and car storage people have in a particular region.

    Suburbanites (like me):
    – I’ll rarely use a local charger, because I have one in my garage.

    Apartment/city dwellers:
    – Could definitely utilize the local charger model, assuming their parking spot or parking garage doesn’t have that available.

    Cross-country drivers:
    – Will never use a local charger, but will focus on the highway locales.

    The big difference from gas stations is that EVs can be charged at home. So the question planners should be asking is “who will use this charger the most?”, rather than “where can I put a charger?”.

    The answer will govern the amenities that surround the charger. For example, as a home-owning suburbanite, I have no interest in visiting a laundromat next to a charger. But I might like a Lowe’s (or Kohl’s for Mrs SCE), and a decent restaurant, or takeout.

    Put the takeout menu screen on the charger, and both the car and the food will be ready at the same time.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @mcs–Having had both an air to air heat pump and open loop ground water heat pump for 14 years in rural Northern Kentucky the air conditioning was very cool and was about 50% savings on my electric bill. The heat was adequate but below 30 degrees the heat strips kicked in and the savings were much less possibly about 20% over straight electric. Anything above 30 degrees the heat strip did not kick in. I had an open loop system because I had a deep underground aquifer that was larger and wider that the Ohio River that I lived near that was over 100 feet down. Water was plentiful so plentiful that after I moved the county I lived in started using it as a water source. At the time I installed the heat pump the company installing it told me it would be less expensive and just as efficient for me to not recirculate the water since I owned the well and used it as my home water source. I was told that there was enough water in that underground river to serve several cities and that for my use I would never run out of water. My electric rates with KY Rural Cooperative are among the cheapest in the country because of coal but even with KY using more natural gas they haven’t gone up much. My current suburban home has natural gas and electric ac. After my experience if I were building my own home as I did when I lived in the country I would put in a closed loop heat pump but have a backup natural gas heat system for the heat especially when the temperatures reach below 30 degrees. Really miss the heat pump air conditioning it felt much cooler than electric ac and the cost savings was great.

    My water from the heat pump was not entirely wasted since it watered some pine trees that grew about 2 feet a year and provided protection from the wind and dusty farm fields.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I’m on top of granite with some water flow. The contractor says I should get good thermal transfer. I have the air heat pump now and it’s been great. With solar, I want to get away from anything external for heat, which means going all-electric. The best way is the geothermal. I’m also looking at adding heat exchangers for the liquid cooling systems on the computers. They put out substantial heat. They’re not typical home computers. The system I’m planning is also a model for a larger-scale commercial system once I’m ready for a larger building.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      @ Jeff S – My experience w/geo thermal was identical to yours. Super efficient at cooling the house during the summer, not so much at heating it during a Minnesota weather. Pretty sure natural gas would have have been less costly for heat.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        The geothermal heat pumps have gotten more efficient since my last one 25 years ago but when the temperature gets 30 and below the heat strips kick in and you use more electricity. In a milder climate like Florida, South Texas or many of the southern states a heat pump would work well especially since most of the year you will run air conditioning and on a rare occasion when you get a “Blue Northern” where the temperature drops drastically in one day it is not as significant as in more northern climates where you have months of 30 and below. In January and February 1994 there was a blizzard where for 1 week Interstate 71 and 75 were closed in Northern Kentucky and most of Ohio. During that winter my heat pump struggled to keep up with temperatures below zero but fortunately that was not a typical winter. I can only imagine what a Minnesota and Wisconsin winter is like.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Right now, with my air heat pump, if the temps get low, it will switch over to a fossil system. If that fails, it switches to resistive electric. With geothermal, I should have steady 50 degree water that the geothermal heatpump would be working off of regardless of the outdoor air. It wouldn’t know if the outside temp was below zero. It should work the same in places like Minnesota. That’s my whole reason for swapping out the outdoor air based heat pump for the geothermal water based heat pump.

          I’m in New England now, but the weather is reminiscent of when I lived in central Texas. It’s 40 degrees out right now. The air heat pump has been on today.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff S

            Geothermal water based heat pumps are better than air to air but if it gets cold enough for a prolonged period of time the heat strips will still kick in especially at 30 degrees and below. That was my experience with a ground water heat pump over 10 years of use. At 40 degrees you will not have an issue with the heat strips kicking in on either an air to air or water based heat pump. The most efficient heat pumps are ground sourced but they are more expensive and more complicated. The least expensive are the air to air heat pumps.

            Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. I lived over 14 years in a rural area without natural gas service my only choice outside of heating oil or propane was electric heat. I had extra insulation and double pane energy efficient windows. The only thing that I did learn from building a house would be to frame with 2x6s instead of 2x4s in order to put in thicker insulation. I also insulated the inside walls which made the rooms quieter besides keeping the rest of the house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer if you closed off a room. It depends on how much you are willing to spend or can afford and how long you plan on living in your home.

            In a tract house or a subdivision electric air conditioning and natural gas heat is more standard. I currently live in a large house built in 2001 that I bought new in a planned community with electric ac and natural gas. I replaced my ac and heating system 10 years ago because my ac was shot and it was not much more expensive to replace the whole system with a more efficient system especially with the Energy Tax Credit. I also replace my windows with triple pane glass and added extra insulation in the garage ceiling.

  • avatar
    CitroenXM

    I find it super interesting that comments on US sites are so much more anti electrification, I guess this is partly a function of distance travelled.

    Can we remember two pros on electrification that seem to get left out:

    Not poisoning ourselves with air pollution.
    Not funding Putin/Iran/Saudi Arabia/Venezuela every time we drive to the shops.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Agree we need electricity but we need to expand our sources for generating electricity. Even if EVs are taken out of the equation we still need more electricity with the expansion of our population and the increase in technology that will continue to make our lives easier and eliminate many of the mundane jobs.

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