Whitbread-owned hotel chain Premier Inn is set to install electric vehicle (EV) chargers at some 300 of its locations, in what it’s calling the biggest roll-out of its kind in the UK hospitality sector.
The company has partnered with energy major ENGIE UK & Ireland and its charging point provider GeniePoint to install and power the chargers. It is targeting 600 charging points within the next three years, with the option to add up to 400 more in the longer-term.
ENGIE UK & Ireland, which is installing the chargers and has electricity tariff contracts with Premier Inn, claims that the chargers will enable the average electric car to charge within 30 minutes. They will be available to restaurant guests and members of the general public as well as hotel guests.
GeniePoint, meanwhile, operates the charge points and the network to which they are connected. Its pay-as-you-go model lets motorists pay online, via a smartphone app, or by using an RFID card. It costs 30p per kWh of charge to use GeniePoint.
Whitbread’s group procurement director Simon Leigh said the chargers will help ease “range anxiety” for guests who either own electric cars or are looking to switch.
“Knowing that in many locations they will soon be able to arrive and have access to a high-speed charge point to quickly refuel their car while they relax and refuel themselves will be a great source of comfort,” he said. “EVs are one of the ways in which the UK strives for a greener future and we’re pleased to help drive this goal forward with what we believe is the UK’s biggest roll-out of rapid charging points to date.”
The move from Premier Inn has attracted praise from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is currently juggling the challenges of the net-zero transition and the UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The hospitality sector is widely regarded as one of the most affected in the country by lockdown restrictions.
BEIS Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Just as the Government is accelerating efforts to support EV and battery manufacturing in the UK, we must also ensure the public can access high-power charging points at their convenience.
“This fantastic initiative between two great companies will allow for stress-free electric vehicle charging when we are able to visit our favourite pubs and restaurants again – allowing consumers to charge up in record time while encouraging others to make that all-important switch to electric.”
To communicate the new EV charging commitment with customers in the current landscape, Premier Inn is changing its electrified moon logo and signage to “Plugged Inn” at several of its major sites.
Force For Good
Whitbread’s broader ‘Force For Good’ sustainability strategy was updated to include new environmental targets in 2020.
The business is aiming to halve its carbon emissions intensity by 2025, against a 2018/19 baseline, and to deliver an 84% reduction by 2050. It claims that these moves will align the firm with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.
Setting new targets in this space appears to be the exception, rather than the norm, for the UK hospitality sector. Of the sustainability and energy professionals in this sector that answered edie’s Green Recovery Survey questions, two-thirds said they had to delay or cancel sustainability-related announcements as a result of Covid-19. Moreover, more than half (52%) of hospitality and leisure respondents had placed sustainability or energy staff onto the Government’s furlough scheme, while 29% had to make staff in those functions redundant.