Strategic Innovation Fund


Project Data

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The Lightspeed project has two main use cases for deployment on-street: retrofitting lampposts and new lampposts. These face different challenges due to the different requirements for un-metered and metered connections. When retrofitting existing lampposts, Lightspeed is constrained by the un-metered network infrastructure and therefore fast charging can only be achieved through the integration of battery storage. For new lampposts, Lightspeed will deploy a new purpose-built EV lamppost and network infrastructure that enables fast and rapid charging. In both use-cases, Lightspeed will provide flexibility services and smart charging to potential users of the solution. 

What is the project about?

Lightspeed sought to re-imagine how the UK rolls out on-street public EV charging to help facilitate the adoption of EVs and the decarbonisation of transport. Almost 30% of UK households do not have off-street parking and therefore to facilitate the decarbonisation of mobility and switch to EVs, the UK needs to rapidly accelerate the deployment of public charging infrastructure to meet consumer demand and government targets.  

Deployment of on-street charging can be hindered by network capacity constraints, local planning rules and the desire for less street furniture. Current lamppost-based EV charging solutions, which address some of these issues, are slow, do not offer flexibility, are often expensive and therefore are not an attractive proposition for potential users. 

How we’re doing it

All aspects of a bi-bidirectional charger were designed and developed during the project, which included: 

  • Back-office energy management system 
  • Communication, networking, and Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) integration 
  • Charging hardware complying with industry standards 
  • Testing of the hardware and software 


To ensure that EV drivers can be encouraged to use on-street charging facilities specifically for smart and bidirectional charging, we conducted a series of user research through quantitative surveys and qualitative customer interviews to understand customers’ needs. This helped to develop a commercial proposition and prototype.  

Research validated our assumptions around barriers to on-street charging, customers told us the top barriers are:  

  1. Availability of charge points 
  1. Cost of charging 
  1. Reliability of charge points 
  1. Speed of charging 


Rollout of bi-directional chargers was also explored and the following steps identified:  

  1. Product manufacturing 
  2. Product testing, safety and approval plans 
  3. Business models, billing and payments
  4. Deployment plans
  5. Route to market strategy  


In summary, a prototype bi-directional charger was successfully developed which can be used in multiple car park settings to provide flexibility to electricity networks and financial rewards to end users. 

What makes it innovative

Lamppost EV chargers already exist; however, these solutions typically provide AC charging at 3-5 kW, which diminishes their benefits. Lightspeed will develop a first of its kind V2X capable lamppost solution that consists of a multifunctional DC converter and integrated underground battery storage and renewable generation. Lightspeed will develop a control management system that integrates customers’ needs, the grid’s available capacity and DER to dynamically alter charging capacity and provide flexibility to networks. This will enable a street of lampposts to be managed as an EV charging network.   

This solution is highly innovative in the context of on-street public charging. Current bi-directional DC-DC designs in the market are limited, lack advanced power conversion configurations, control systems, and face interoperability issues. The two closest technology providers looking at similar innovations in the market are Enphase and Wallbox. However, these chargers rely on AC transformers for bi-directional power and therefore face different limitations. 

What we’re learning

At the end of the project, the following key outputs have been achieved:  

  • Bi-directional charger prototype successfully developed with hardware and software components 
  • Rollout plan developed with short list of sites, installation plan, network capacity, business models and route to market 
  • Solution is suitable and can be deployed in other DNO license areas 
  • Surveys and interviews with EV drivers to develop incentivisation model – drivers have a strong preference for cheaper price at point of purchase 
  • Flexibility potential understood and calculated benefits to electricity networks and society  
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