Five Years of Electric AchievementsCelebrating five years of Zero Carbon Futures
As One North East was coming to a close in 2011, the team were just at the start of running the Plugged in Places project to support the uptake of electric vehicles in the North East. The only way to continue was to set up on our own and, by October, Zero Carbon Futures was born, set up as a subsidiary to Gateshead College. Our focus for the rest of the year was to get moved into our new home at the Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing in Sunderland whilst continuing on our quest to build an electric charging network in the North East. Our challenge was to find as many North East organisations who would partner with us and have an EV charge point installed at their premises. Easier said than done – given the fact that there were very few electric cars in the region at that time.
The year was very much dedicated to the project management of Plugged in Places North East. We continued to work closely with Elektromotive to create the Charge Your Car back office ensuring that electric car drivers had easy access to the charging network.
We also launched our largest marketing campaign to date: Why Not Electric? which focused on both business drivers and consumers to encourage them to take test drives and find out more about electric cars.
By December the region was also home to a full network of rapid charge points – helping drivers, drive further in the region.
2013 was the year when things really changed for Zero Carbon Futures. In June, Plugged in Places came to an end (it’s fair to say that we all miss it!) but we had achieved what we set out to do and installed a grand total of 1,163 charge points. As one door closed, another opened, and in the same month we began work as a partner on the My Electric Avenue project. Our role was to support EA Technology to both project manage the domestic charge point installs but also to promote the initiative in the North to encourage people to get involved.
By October, we were also named as the project managers for the Rapid Charge Network TEN-T project on behalf of Nissan, BMW, Renault and VW. Not bad clients to have for a company in only its second year.
Months of Nissan LEAF community roadshows and street parties had paid off by March, as we had successfully recruited five My Electric Avenue clusters in the North East. 55 people in the region had signed up to become part of the UK-wide project, including one street in South Shields which had 22 Nissan LEAF delivered. We were convinced this should have been worthy of a Guinness Book of Records.
In September, we also officially launched the Rapid Charge Network project at the side of the motorway at Corley Welcome Break – a rather unusual event location but home to one of the first installed rapid charge points.
In November, the company was called to give evidence to the Transport Select Committee on the future of motoring.
2015 was a year which focussed on building our training division. Working with Gateshead College, we developed a new education forum and hydrogen awareness curriculum through the HyTrEc project at the start of the year. This then led to the official launch, in June, of ZCF Training.
It was also a busy year for the Rapid Charge Network project, as we continued our project management role overseeing the programme as well as all installation and dissemination of the project. This included another high profile speaking slot at EVS28 in Korea for project manager, Josey. By December, the route of 74 multi-standard, rapid charge points was complete.
2016 has been the year where we’ve really shifted our expertise from infrastructure to new technologies with batteries as our focus. In January, we were named as a project partner on the Horizon 2020 ELSA project, which is investigating the use of second life batteries as an energy store. By February, we were also chosen to administer an APC4 project investigating high energy batteries.
This was also the year that electric car sales really took off, with sales at an all time high. With 70,000 vehicles sold and an appetite from businesses and organisations to support this through the charging infrastructure, it was a great time to launch our new initiative with partners, Elm EV – EV Works, to offer organisations an end-to-end solution for EV network planning and installation.