Will Ashworth, CEO of the Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall, says guests take sustainability seriously and will come to expect electric vehicle charging as standard. Pick a good infrastructure partner, he advises.
The Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall was the first of Good Energy’s customers to install EV chargepoints via One Point.
On the seafront six miles east of Newquay, the hotel has 71 rooms, three restaurants and has been a Good Energy customer since 2014.
Alongside its 100 per cent renewable power supply contract, Watergate Bay has invested in a thermal solar array and two combined heat and power (CHP) units. These technologies heat the water used throughout the hotel, reducing electricity demand by 45 per cent.
Chargers ‘like wifi’
With sustainability central to the hotel’s business, Watergate Bay CEO, Will Ashworth, says installing EV chargers powered by clean energy were a natural next step.
“Green credentials are becoming increasingly important,” he says, “so we will be outlining our approach more centrally within our marketing and we plan to go for accreditation, b-corp or similar, to show guests that we are a good business and share their ethos.”
Installing charging infrastructure as part of a sustainable appoach also future-proofs the hotel: providing EV chargers to guests, he suggests, will soon become as obligatory to the hospitality sector as providing free wireless internet.
However, demand for the chargers is already increasing, says Ashworth, with “two or three” of the six chargepoints “in use pretty much permanently.”
Get help, move faster
Ashworth is experienced in onsite generation, given the hotel’s investment in CHP and solar thermal assets. But he admits to being a “complete novice” when it comes to electric vehicles and associated infrastructure.
“I would have found the process quite daunting. I literally would not have known where to start, but Good Energy managed the process end-to-end, including facilitating access to the grants available to businesses like ours,” says Ashworth. “So having them on our side was instrumental in us actually going ahead with the install rather than just contemplating it and kicking it into the long grass.”
The smart charging system automatically monitors and controls output to prevent circuits becoming overstressed when all six are in use.
While the hotel doesn’t currently charge guests for using the chargepoints, it may do so in the future – and the One Point service ensures it can meter and bill for each charger.
In the coming months, the hotel is building new headquarters a few miles up the road. Ashworth says it will install infrastructure to accommodate 20 EV chargers, though will initially only install 10 chargepoints to accommodate staff vehicles. “Dig once and ensure we have sufficient power to handle future requirements,” is the rationale, says Ashworth.
Meanwhile, the company’s Lake District hotel will also require additional EV chargers, though how many the site can accommodate “will come down to what electrical capacity we have at the site.”
Know your capacity
While smart charging can maximise available power capacity on site, Ashworth believes lack of headroom within the distribution network will present significant challenges to a nationwide switch to electric vehicles. He advises businesses considering EV infrastructure to understand site capacity as a first point of call.
Above all, Ashworth advises businesses to “make sure you go and speak to an expert that can help you access the funding that may be available, and give you clear choices to support the decision-making process”.
Wish list: retractable cables
At his Lake District Hotel, Ashworth says the only issue with EV chargers to date has been a short circuit, due to a guest unwittingly using a cable that had been damaged after being driven over. He thinks it’s an oversight manufacturers could easily address.
“I can’t understand why retractable cables aren’t on the market, because it doesn’t take much for them to be damaged. It seems an obvious flaw with a straightforward solution.”
To learn more about EVs, charging infrastructure, and how other businesses are tackling the road ahead, download your free copy of Good Energy’s latest EV white paper here.