Subsurface Technology for Electric Pathways (STEP)

Lead Participant: Element Energy Limited


EV adoption is crucial for the UK to meet climate targets and tackle air pollution. Battery costs and consumer acceptance are improving, but a remaining barrier inhibiting rapid EV uptake is lack of public recharging infrastructure. A substantial 8m vehicle owners in the UK don't have access to off-street parking and therefore cannot charge an EV at home.

There are several approaches to this problem, however each has drawbacks:

Standalone on-street chargepoint -- often inconveniently located, expensive, and presents access issues due to bulky equipment
Lamppost charging -- cheap but limited to lampposts close to the road. Power restricted to 2-5kW.
Wire trenches -- slotting cable in pavement between chargepoint in home and car. Needs users parked directly outside their house
Pop-up and wireless charging -- in early stages of development
Rapid charge hubs -- no evidence yet that this is a solution for residents
The Trojan Energy system however, presents a novel, cost-effective solution to the lack of on-street chargepoints. It involves a flush connection, where the chargepoint is slotted into the ground, resulting in no permanent street clutter on the pavement edge. To charge an EV, the user inserts the 'lance' into the connector, and the other end plugs into the car.

The STEP Phase 1 study successfully proved the feasibility of these chargepoints. There is substantial demand for the commercially viable product: ~90% of workshop attendees said they wanted the technology installed outside their home, and the majority of survey respondents said the solution would help overcome the barrier of lack of public charging. Additionally, local authorities have confidence in the technology, particularly as it is scalable and helps to relieve parking pressure within boroughs.

The Phase 2 trial will demonstrate the charging system in a real-life environment. Entire streets within Brent and Camden will be fitted with the technology -- connectors will be placed about 5m apart, allowing residents to charge regardless of where they park. Several users have already expressed interest in the technology, and Octopus Energy will also recruit some of their home energy and EV customers.

Furthermore, as 15 connectors can run in parallel, requiring only one grid connection, costs can be reduced, and effective grid management can be enabled. Chargepoints and vehicles will be monitored in the trial, to gain information on charging behaviour and to substantiate potential revenue from grid services, an important aspect for distribution network operators (DNOs).

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Element Energy Limited, CAMBRIDGE £153,814 £ 107,670


University of Leeds, United Kingdom £43,804 £ 43,804
Birmingham City Council, Birmingham £3,338 £ 3,338
Trojan Energy Limited, Stonehaven £3,640,047 £ 2,548,033
Uk Power Networks (Operations) Limited, LONDON £29,483
The London Borough of Camden £53,814 £ 53,814
Octopus Energy Limited, London £46,034 £ 23,017
London Borough of Brent £390,134 £ 390,134


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