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EV Charging Technology: Papilio3 Solar Car Park

British Parking Awards 2023

Mark Moran
01 October 2023
Papilio3 at Silverstone


3ti has developed Papilio3, a pop-up electric vehicle charging hub designed to address the poorly served middle ground between domestic and rapid or ultra-rapid charging.

The solar car park approach offers a possible solution to many of the challenges facing the UK; boosting the EV charging infrastructure; supporting electric vehicle (EV) take-up; and providing control over energy costs and supply.

The Papilio3 Solar Car Park is a product developed by 3ti, a designer, installer, funder and operator of large-scale solar car parks (SCPs). 3ti stands for ‘Three Technology Infrastructure’: solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation, EV charging and battery energy storage systems (BESS). By installing these technologies in car parks, 3ti seeks to turn otherwise underutilised spaces into valuable renewable energy-generating assets, providing customers with greater control of energy costs, security of supply and reduced carbon content in the electricity they use.

3ti says that while the most convenient and cost-efficient form of EV charging is performed at home, this is not possible for around 50% of EV drivers. The company is seeking to alter EV drivers’ mindsets, encouraging them to move away from the traditional forecourt refuel “stop to charge” model of rapid chargers and adopt a more convenient “charge where you stop” mentality.

Some 90% of UK journeys are under 50 miles, and 95% are under 100 miles, says 3ti. The average length of a journey in the UK is 20 miles. With an optimised EV infrastructure in place, electrification is the optimal source of motive power to deliver on net zero targets and decarbonise the UK transport sector.

Based around a recycled shipping container, Papilio3 is a pop-up alternative to a large-scale solar car park. 3ti says it can be installed in under eight hours, providing a solution that can rapidly accelerate EV adoption through the provision of charging infrastructure. It is a single-unit solution capable of standardised production for rapid scale-up and deployment.

The company says suitable locations for Papilio3 placement include hospitals, hotels, meeting venues, sports or shopping centres, tourist attractions and town centres. Each unit offers sheltered, illuminated and secure parking, plus a convenient, available and reliable EV charging experience.

The prototype unit became operational in May 2022 at the Surrey Research Park, which has since extended its contract for a further two years following positive feedback from tenants in a user survey. Some 85% of those surveyed said they were ‘very satisfied’ with the reliability of the chargepoints, and 15% said they were ‘satisfied’. The respondents rated the overall charging experience of Papilio3 highly, with 77% of respondents saying they were ‘very satisfied’ and 23% stating they were ‘satisfied’.

Papilio3 generated 14MWh in the first 12 months, the equivalent of powering an average family EV over 52,000 miles.

Over the past year 3ti has installed units in high profile locations including the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire and Bentley Motors headquarters in Crewe.

Each location undergoes a 63-point assessment by ChargeSafe, the independent chargepoint assessment and accreditation body. This ensures that the design, location, facilities, functionality and accessibility of every Papilio3 charging hub meets the needs of all users as the network of units expands.

3ti has growth targets that aim to have 500 Papilio3 units in operation across the country by 2027, adding 6,000 public chargepoints to the UK’s infrastructure.

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