Glastonbury Festival provides solar-powered free charging station for electric cars

More and more people are switching over to electric cars but some potential users are put off by a shortage of places to charge them.

That shortage was eased (on 8 Sept) when the first free community charging station in the Bristol area was opened by Glastonbury Festival founder and green champion Michael Eavis.

The facility is a solar carport available for anybody to charge their electric vehicle for free. Michael Eavis became the first driver to use it when he plugged in his own electric car for a top-up.

Drivers simply park their vehicles under the carport with its array of solar photovoltaic cells and plug them in. The carport has been installed as a free community facility by Solarsense, the region’s leading renewable energy specialist, at its headquarters at Brockley near Bristol, and will be available during business hours.

Opening the solar carport, Michael Eavis said: “Electric cars are a wonderful opportunity for somewhere like Bristol which has a problem with air quality – the quickest way to improve air quality is to switch to electric cars.

“I like driving my electric car because it’s so quiet I can hear my wife talking and the birds singing, and I can charge it with the free electricity generated by our solar photovoltaic system on the farm.”

A wide range of electric vehicles from leading manufacturers was on display at Solarsense at an open day designed to show people the alternatives to fossil-fuel transport. There were also electric bicycles and even electric-powered miniature cars for children.

Also on show was the first electric Smart car in Bristol, which is effectively powered by the sun. Its owner George Ferguson, independent candidate for mayor of Bristol, charges it with electricity generated by solar panels he had installed on the roof of the Tobacco Factory.

Solarsense already operate a small fleet of hybrid cars and is buying some electric vehicles. To encourage its staff to ride to work, the company has also installed a facility for charging solar-powered electric bikes.

During the open day, Solarsense’s zero-carbon offices were open for people to view the green technologies it uses to meet all its electricity and heating needs, including solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal, biomass and heat pumps.

Steve Barrett of Solarsense said: “As a company we’re committed to helping people reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions using renewable energy while minimising our own carbon footprint, and the solar carport will help us do that and enable anybody to charge their own electric vehicle for free.”