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FORECOURTtrader: Shell plans to replace forecourt with EV-only charging hub

Shell is planning to be the first fuel retailer in the UK to take out traditional fuels from an operating service station and replace them with an electric vehicle-only charging hub.

Application for planning permission for the development on the company’s site in Fulham, West London, will be put forward at the end of this month, with the hope and expectation that the hub will be operational by the middle of next year.

The announcement comes as Shell celebrates the installation of its 50th UK EV charging point, and the installation of the first 150kW post on a service station.

It also follows last week’s announcement about Shell’s ‘carbon neutral’ programme, giving drivers the chance to offset their carbon dioxide emissions free of charge when they buy fuel at its UK service stations using the Go+ card, a scheme – which went live on October 17 – that will cost the oil major £10 million over the next 12 months.

Bernie Williamson, Shell UK Retail’s general manager, said she was “super excited and proud” with the milestones that have been achieved so far as well as the company’s plans going forward.

“This is about us thriving through the energy transition. We’re looking at the next evolution and the needs of our customers in the broader sense. We’re doing nature-based solutions, giving motorists the opportunity to do something about their carbon footprint as we continue to invest and ramp up long-term solutions of electric vehicle charge posts for those people when they’re ready to move to EV transportation. We’re ideally placed for that – we have a fantastic network where over 75% of the population are within 15 minutes of a Shell service station.”

The EV-only hub will feature up to 10 charging spaces, with 150kW chargers, canopies featuring solar panels, with flower beds and grass-roofed store creating a pleasant environment. It will also feature solar panels on the canopy roofs over the charging hubs and a convenience store offering a “warm welcome”, somewhere EV drivers can stretch their legs, with a sit-down area, and a great standard of facilities, such as free wifi, top-up shopping, coffee, breakfast, lunch, food for tonight, plus clean toilets.

“However, it won’t just serve EV customers, we know that one in three of our customers come in just for the shop,” explained Williamson. “So it’s very much capitalising on the convenience retail business we see ourselves in.

“The site will be very clearly branded so it will be obvious to motorists that it’s an EV hub. But while we’re planning this at Fulham to serve EV customers – and provide a place where people know they are going to get a charge point that works and not have to queue – it won’t cause massive inconvenience to our traditional fuels customers as we are well-served with other Shell service stations in the area.”

In terms of the EV network, Shell expects to have 70 charging posts by the end of the year and 200 by the end of next year.

“We’re trying to look at customer demand, and trying to be slightly ahead of that demand. There’s big demand in the cities, and then it will be the joining up of the cities. In London our busiest site is in Holloway where we have two chargers, handling about 200 customer visits a month. We’ve started with 50kW posts, but are gradually moving to 150kW. Our charge posts are supplied by 100% renewable electricity – so by definition if you’re an EV driver and you’re charging up at Shell, you’re driving carbon neutral.”

As for the nature-based solutions, research shows that 71% of customers want to do something about their carbon footprints, but only half know what actions they should be taking towards it, according to Williamson.

“Our carbon offset programme gives an immediate solution for those who are unable to move to an electric vehicle at this stage for various reasons – some are concerned about range, others can’t afford to move at this stage.

“We’re using Go+ is because it enables us to talk to our customers about carbon offsetting, because we know our customers details and they’re willing for us to talk to them; we can share with them at the end of their 10 visits, a carbon statement. How many other things in your life do you get a carbon statement for? We’re starting that journey – it’s hugely exciting.”

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