1. Why is the site a suitable location for the proposed Eco-Hub?
EV numbers will increase rapidly over the coming years. In November 2020, the Government brought forward by a full decade a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars; such cars will not be available in the UK from 2030 – less than 9 years from now.
At present, there are insufficient charging facilities locally and those that exist typically comprise low-power chargers, in small numbers, in local towns.
Research shows that unless charging facilities are provided in rural areas, rural communities, such as Tendring, will be left behind on EVs. This project plugs a regional gap in charging facilities and helps re-balance the current bias towards more populated areas.
2. Why is there a need for an eco hub?
Electrifying transport has a critical part to play in tackling global climate change – in the UK, approximately 40% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions came from transport and electricity (fossil fuels), with transport being the biggest contributor.
As part of the plans to significantly reduce carbon emissions, the UK Government’s policy is to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, less than 9 years away. The number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the UK’s roads is therefore set to rise exponentially, whilst the number of traditional combustion engine cars will decline. Already, electric cars are selling in greater number than diesel cars.
To ensure that people are not ‘put off’ from acquiring an EV due to ‘range anxiety’, the concern that the car battery will run out before one’s destination is reached, it is important that the roll-out of charging infrastructure occurs in-line with the increase in the size of the EV fleet.
An Eco-Hub such as this which combines EV charging with renewable energy generation and battery storage, powering the charging facility with green electricity whilst also having a connection to the local grid network.
This provides the opportunity for using green energy right there where it is generated. It is hoped that sites can be found to develop similar installations across the country to support the sustained growth of EVs in the UK.
 Figures from The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show electric car sales exceeded diesel car sales in the last three months when statistics are available (June to August 2021, inclusive)
3. How does the eco hub work?
The roughly 25MWp solar farm generates electricity while emitting no carbon dioxide. This electricity feeds into the 3MW battery storage facility, where it gets stored. Excess renewable energy would be fed into the local grid network via the on-site grid connection in to an existing overhead electricity line.
The battery storage is connected to the EV charging infrastructure at the hub, providing rapid charging for at least 12 cars. Stored power from the batteries can then be used to charge the batteries of the electric vehicles visiting the hub.
Like a solar farm, the battery storage facility has a direct connection to the local grid network. It can provide power to the network as well as temporarily take excess electricity from the grid, therefore helping to balance supply and demand, supporting grid stability in the local area.
During a full year, the proposed solar project would produce electricity equivalent to the demand of around 6,500 average UK homes. That’s more than three times the number of homes in Kirby Cross and Kirby-le-Soken, combined.
 The UK average for solar photovoltaic project capacity factors in 2020 was 11.2% (Source: 2021 Digest of UK Energy Statistics, BEIS, table 6.5). 25MWp (the project’s assumed capacity) x 1,000 (converting from MW to kW) x 8,760 (hours in a year) x 11.2% (assumed capacity factor) = 24.5m kWh, to one decimal place. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, “Energy Consumption in the UK” Table C9, 22 October 2020, average, temperature-corrected domestic consumption in 2019 @ 3,772 kWh. 24.5m kWh divided by 3,772 kWh = 6,495 homes.
11. Will there be an increase in traffic once the hub is operational?
The hub is expected to have only a small effect on local traffic levels. At first, the number of EVs on the road will still be relatively small in comparison to petrol and diesel cars and the number of EVs that may make a detour to charge at the hub will be limited as well.
However, the total number of cars on the road is forecasted by the Government to rise between 11 and 43% between 2017 and 2023, and – since the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030 – a rapidly growing number of those will be EVs. The hub will therefore be able to serve a growing number of EVs that would be passing by in any event.
12. How about wildlife, would it be displaced?
The eco hub would be carefully designed to minimise effects on existing wildlife, both diurnal and nocturnal. However, the site is currently in agricultural use providing a relatively species-poor ecology.
13. What opening times do you expect the Eco-Hub to have?
The café/shop element will have typical trading hours (perhaps 07h00-19h00, 7 day per week) although the EV charging element will be open for longer periods, potentially 24/7. This will be agreed at a later date with Tendring District Council, should the project obtain planning consent.
14. How about noise?
EVs are quiet by their nature and the eco hub would cause little additional noise for the local community. The design will respect its location.
15. Can the site still be used by petrol / diesel cars?
Yes, around 30 normal car parking spaces would be provided to boost the parking available during busy school drop-off and pick-up times, for instance. It is expected that these parking spaces would be time-limited to not more than 4 hours.
16. What is the timescale for development and how long would the hub be operational?
The construction of the eco hub, subject to planning permission being granted, is planned for 2023. The project is expected to operate for 40 years.
17. How does this plan fit in with Tendring District Council’s policies?
We feel that the proposal saves the Green Gap, which separates Kirby-le-Soken and Kirby Cross as the Eco-Hub will prevent the land being used for housebuilding.
The project helps meet several local policies in respect of renewable energy generation and action to tackle climate change.
It also helps address the Climate Emergency declared by Tendring District Council in August 2019 and the Climate Emergency Action Plan 2020-2023 approved by Tendring District Council in late 2020.
Furthermore, by encouraging the up-take of EVs in the area, the project may have indirect benefits for local air pollution, regarded by Public Health England as “the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK”.
 Public Health England “Public Health England publishes air pollution evidence review”, 11 March 2019
18. What job opportunities will the Eco-Hub create?
During construction, we expect the hub to create up to perhaps 50 temporary construction jobs over a period of 3-6 months.
Once operational it is estimated that the scheme will support around four full-time equivalent jobs (FTE) in Tendring and the wider regional economy, including approximately 6-8 local, part-time jobs relating to the EV charging station, café and shop.
19. What happens at the end of the Eco-Hub’s life?
At the end of its expected 40-year life, the site would be fully decommissioned, and this will incorporate all elements; solar farm, charging infrastructure and battery storage facility and associated infrastructure such as the seating area etc.
The detailed decommissioning arrangements would be expected to be included in the list of planning conditions associated with any future planning permission.
Nearer the time of decommissioning, a decision would be made as to how much of the underground infrastructure should be taken away, given that the environmental disturbance may be significant if it is to be removed after 40 years.
That said, the project is completely reversible, and all aspects could be fully removed if that is the preferred option at the time.
10. What happens to the batteries used in EVs?
Electric Vehicle batteries generally last for c. 80,000-100,000 miles (and have manufactures’ warranties for this distance). To date, at the end of their lives (in a car), they are generally used to produce new electricity storage batteries for domestic and industrial applications.
As the internationally acclaimed advisor McKinsey and Company puts it “EV batteries have a tough life. Subjected to extreme operating temperatures, hundreds of partial cycles a year, and changing discharge rates, lithium-ion batteries in EV applications degrade strongly during the first five years of operation and are designed for approximately a decade of useful life in most cases. Yet, these batteries can live a second life, even when they no longer meet EV performance standards, which typically include maintaining 80 percent of total usable capacity and achieving a resting self-discharge rate of only about 5 percent over a 24-hour period. After remanufacturing, such batteries are still able to perform sufficiently to serve less-demanding applications, such as stationary energy-storage services.”
4. What effect will the project have on Halstead Road?
The current proposal is that there will be a single, new access in to the EV charging area and an up-graded access to the solar panels, using an existing gate entrance. Both accesses would be off the Halstead Road. From the traffic data we have obtained to date, it is clear that congestion on Halstead Road tends to coincide with school drop-off and pick-up times, Monday-Friday.
We intend to help alleviate this by providing additional parking in the EV charging area (for EVs and non-EVs) so that fewer cars need to park on Halstead Road at these busy times. We do not expect the project to generate much additional traffic. Rather, in future, many of the cars that would pass by in any event will be electric vehicles and they will use the Eco Hub for charging. Nonetheless, we will engage with local residents and the local highways authority to refine our plans.
5. How many cars can be charged per hour / day at the EV station?
The number of vehicles that the Eco-Hub can charge will depend on the size of the battery in the vehicle, what range the driver wishes to add and the type of charger used. To give an example based on current, reasonable estimates, a 60kWh battery charged to 80% using an ultra-rapid charger would take around 10 minutes. Using a rapid charger, this may take 40 minutes. This level of charge would provide an electric vehicle with a range of roughly 144-192 miles. If the Eco Hub is open 12 hours per day and has 12 chargers, with an average charge of 30 minutes, up to 288 electric vehicles could be charged each day.
6. What is the range of the average EV compared to a conventional petrol / diesel vehicle?
The range of electric vehicles varies widely between different makes and models. However, most modern electric vehicles have a range of 200-300 miles.
7. Is it true that it can take 6 hours to fully charge an EV?
The time taken to charge an electric vehicle will depend on the size of the battery in the vehicle, what range the driver wishes to add and the type of charger used. Home chargers may take many hours to charge a vehicle, although this is often overnight when the vehicle isn’t being used.
The rapid and ultra-rapid chargers of the type proposed for the Eco-Hub can charge most vehicles much quicker than this – typically between 10-40 minutes. Ultra-rapid chargers can charge at up to “1,000mph”, ie they can add range to the vehicle at a rate of 1,000 miles for each hour they are being charged – equivalent to 100 miles every 6 minutes (ref: https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/new-tesla-supercharger-can-give-1000-miles-charge-hour).
20. What is the battery life of the average EV?
Most electric vehicle batteries have a manufacturer’s warranty of 8 years. Real life experience shows that most electric vehicle batteries will still be operating at 90% or more of their original capacity after this length of time (8 years). If and when they are removed/replaced, electric vehicle batteries can either be recycled or used in less demanding applications such as stationary electricity storage.
8. EVs are expensive. Is there a second hand EV market?
EV prices are falling as battery costs fall and electric cars are expected to cost the same or less than their petrol/diesel equivalents within the next 5 years (ref: https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry-news-environment-and-energy/richard-parry-jones-cost-parity-between-evs-and-ice). There is a growing second hand EV market too, with Autotrader (https://www.autotrader.co.uk/) showing 3,775 used electric cars for sale on 30 September 2021 with a starting price of approximately £2,000.
21. Is the taxpayer subsidising this project?
No; neither the EV charging station, solar panels nor the battery storage equipment would be subsidised. The project would pay business rates levied by Tendring District Council, estimated at approximately £75,000 per year.
9. Why is there a move to transition from crude oil to electric vehicles in the UK?
The move to electric vehicles in the UK (and around the world) is largely related to efforts to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, which is released by petrol and diesel (fossil-fuel) cars.
Replacing a petrol or diesel car with an electric vehicle is often seen as a way of reducing a driver’s carbon footprint (click here). Electric vehicles are also being promoted in towns and cities in order to reduce air pollution (there are no exhaust emissions from electric vehicles).
22. Why is the UK committed to reducing carbon emissions to tackle climate change when other countries ignore them, such as China?
As part of the United Nations’ climate change programme, the vast majority of countries around the world have made national climate plans which can be added together in order to see how they would affect future climate (based on scientific knowledge). China has a national climate plan and strengthened its plan in late 2020.