Shell Ponders Charging Station Rollout In UK


My Fuel Station, 14 cents for regular, 9 cents for TOU.

My Fuel Station, 14 cents for regular, 9 cents for TOU.

Oil company Shell says that it’s “examining the potential” for installing charging stations “across some parts of its UK retail network” beginning in early 2017. And by “potential” we assume that to mean, potential to recover some lost petrol money from the ongoing plug-in vehicle onslaught.

The UK retail network implies gas stations, which would be big news and a huge win for electric cars if Shell actually gives the program the go ahead.

As Engadget reports:

“In a statement to the Guardian, the company confirmed that it’s “examining the potential” of putting chargers “across some parts of our UK retail network” from early 2017.”

“The comments follow a slew of emails, retrieved by DeSmogBlog through a Freedom of Information request, between Shell and the British government.”

A Shell employee sent an email with this statement:

“I have been asked whether Shell will need an electricity supply license if we are to provide a service to customers to charge their electric cars.” 

From this exchange (which we don’t know who the sender or recipients are), it’s assumed that Shell is at least interested in proving charging services for electric cars at its gas station locations.

We’ve seen chargers at gas stations before, but never in what’s expected to be a mass rollout, perhaps even UK-wide.

Source: Engadget

Categories: Charging, General

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45 Comments on "Shell Ponders Charging Station Rollout In UK"

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Gas stations – the absolute last place I would ever want to stop and charge.

While any additional infrastructure is good, I would much rather see charging stations at Walmart/Target/Grocery Stores/Restaurants way before a gas station.

Maybe if we had too many charging stations you could be fussy but I would say right now in UK the more the better.

Depends what else is around the gas station.

Good point. Sometimes gas stations even have some decent food to eat, like many Sheetz locations now with their small sit down restaurant. If Sheetz partnered with EVgo then that would be great progress.

There are, however, certain characteristics that are needed for any fast charge location to be relevant. I’m aiming to write an article on the topic at some point. It will be next gen EV focused and give a few main pointers that next gen infrastructure needs in order to be effective.

If it was a privately owned gas station, I could see this. But I’m totally shocked that one of the big players in the oil market would want to shoot themselves in the foot by growing infrastructure for their competition.

@David M
“But I’m totally shocked that one of the big players in the oil market would want to shoot themselves in the foot by growing infrastructure for their competition”

Carbon credits?

Actually, they are just trying to gain back revenue. If one wants to go electric, one doesn’t do it because one can recharge (in)conveniently at a smelly gas station. Once one has an EV, one never visits a gas station again (except for car wash). Consequently, there is no extra revenue from overpriced snacks, drinks, coffee, lottery tickets and all the stuff available at a 2016 gas station. AFAIK the business aside from gasoline and diesel accounts for a high percentage of the profit of such places. Thus, thinking ahead to a time when e.g. 5-10% EV market penetration has happened, they face 5-10 less revenue from fuel, but also from their non-gas revenue (at potentially identical cost for labor and running the place). Any additional customer is probably appreciated.
If a gas station has acceptable prices for charging and is conveniently located where one has to charge anyway, why not?

Not everyone has off street parking and even those who will need to charge away from home ocassionally.

I agree, stupid place for a charger on an Urban area, but makes perfect sense on long distance highway travel, all the restrooms and the 5 major food groups are there (McDonalds KFC etc).

Plus a place to walk the dog.

Some Guy said: “If a gas station has acceptable prices for charging and is conveniently located where one has to charge anyway, why not?” Because an EV charging station is a very poor match to a typical gas-station-plus-convenience store’s business model. The gas station owner wants customers to come and go quickly, so they don’t occupy the very valuable real estate in his parking lot for an extended period. Five minutes to get gas and grab a bag of chips and a drink is a good profit for the owner. Even 10 minutes to visit the rest room and then grab a few things in the convenience store is a win for the owner. But spending 30-45 minutes hanging around a “convenience” store makes it very inconvenient indeed, for both customer and owner. The customer has no place to sit while waiting, and the convenience store doesn’t carter to extended shopping visits. And the owner won’t want a car just sitting in his lot for that long. A few such customers would fill up (or at least clog up) the parking lot, causing waiting lines… and more to the point, causing potential customers to drive on and buy elsewhere. And… Read more »

In Dallas-Fort Worth there are a few shell stations and an Exxon station that have EVGO chargers. They’re almost all along highways, so they are very convenient when topping off for 30 minutes to an hour.

Believe it or not, I’ve used the station off of I-30 at the Shell. It was actually a really great charging location, unlikely to be ICEd. But I knew that was just an EVGo station.. Shell themselves didn’t pay to put that in.


/s 😉

That is true, it is not a Shell branded station, but it is still a good proof of concept that charging at gas stations can be a good experience when driving along the highway.

That particular charger is kind of on the back of the store in a nicely landscaped area away from the gas pumps. It should be a model for all Shell stations to follow!

Don’t forget that years ago Shell also made solar panels. It might seem like a odd thing to do for a oil company, but they have been researching energy for years, in all it’s various forms. Hydrogen an Algea are also current R&D projects.

Then again, it’s also been in the news for atrocious environmental conditions near oil well sites in Africa.

Maybe they should develop batteries instead?

Shell actually has a reasonable ownership of wind projects in the US, the total is something near half a gigawatt. The started in 2001, but have been hot and cold on it.

BP has a similar sized wind operation in the US. Statoil is also dipping their toe in the wind market, mostly in EU right now.

The European energy majors are just ahead of the US companies in diversifying.

They must source technology forecasts from a different group of consultants, lol.

Very few power plants, worldwide, are fueled by oil; only 1-2%. So for oil companies which don’t sell natural gas, there really isn’t much conflict of interest there.

Besides, wind farms are usually very highly subsidized by various levels of government (Federal, State, county, municipal); much more highly subsidized than any other form of electricity. So arguably, oil companies building wind farms aren’t so much providing alternative energy as they are “gaming” well-intended regulations to make profits by riding the back of taxpayers in various countries.

* * * * *

Thankfully, the UK has recently moved to reduce these absurdly high subsidies to something more in line with subsidies for other types of renewable energy.

It’s very difficult to find an article on this which isn’t biased in some fashion, because it’s a polarizing political issues in the UK. But perhaps the article linked below (dated March 2016) is more balanced than many or most on the subject:

They don’t want to shoot themselves in the foot. They just want to stay in business.

“… But I’m totally shocked that one of the big players in the oil market would want to shoot themselves in the foot…”

I’m not. Like any company, they want to make money. Consider that Ecotricity – the biggest provider of rapid AC & DC charging facilities in the UK for the last 3 years or more – is now apparently earning £100k annually from its almost entirely motorway service area-based network, and you can begin to see the £ signs whizzing across Shell’s board of directors’ eyes…

And besides the charging charge (…!) we all know that fuel stations don’t make anywhere near as much money from selling fuel as they do from selling everything else, so it makes it a bit of a no-brainer when you have a ‘captive audience’ of EV customers hanging around for up to an hour, wondering if they are hungry or not.

Plus they have loos, are very handily located for passing traffic and almost certainly have a 3 phase electricity supply already in place. Like I say, a complete no-brainer.

Dutch Shell Oil has seen, even in their home country, that selling the lowest price energy source is no guarantee of winning market share in competition against other products. Maintaining a position as a retail supplier of energy, and investigations into how to do so for growing new products, is relevant to a business they are already in.

Many oil companies will not even allow E85 in their U.S. stations.

I’ve seen a gas station in Michigan with an L2 charger. So it’s not unheard of.

It makes sense as reliance on gasoline gradually shifts to electricity. Another fine,
recent example of why reliance of gasoline is bad:

At least 15 Shell gas stations here in Denmark have had charging stations, starting with the first one in December 2013. They are built in co-operation with CLEVER one of the two Danish national charging providers:
Shell press release in Danish:

Cool. Gas stations may be a bit smelly, but they are usually well located, open 24/7 for service, and some food and drink is typically available, as well as a restroom (probably the most important) ?
It’s not really surprising news tho. In Norway many gas stations have fast chargers. Once there are 150 kW fast chargers at gas stations then we are really talking.

We’re still a long way from “lost petrol money”.

This is really effective measure for them to demotivate people who are willing to invest in charging infrastructure.
If you are investing your own funds, not a government grant, this news will make you think twice.

Seems quite obvious that if oil companies want to sell hydrocarbons that governments should be saying that they must also supply clean electricity, no charge station no license to pump poison!

Makes sense “IF” the installations are of the fastest throughput “any” BEV out there can currently handle, and then some, as in as much capacity as can be done at reasonable cost to build in a measure of future proofing for faster charging BEV’s as they come available.

Yes, very very true.

At less half of the effort and investment made now in 2016 and 2017 will be a benefit in 1-2 years by means of preparing and establishing a site that’s capable of 2 fast chargers (and some places maybe more) up to 150 kW.

The more fast chargers per location the more economical the location becomes believe it or not.

Of note here in the U.S.A. I have found a handful of gas stations that have incorporated DCFC on site (several known to me personally in the Phoenix metro area)

Shell and BP also have DCFC rapids in France.

Makes good sense if an oil company wants to stay in business after the world has transitioned to EVs

I’m a little surprised that people find this unusual behavior for Shell.

Shell, like all big corporates, will move with the market. They will try an influence people and they will invest + promote technologies that benefit their existing business model but at the end of the day if their customers want a certain product they’ll supply it.

It would be highly unlikely that there would be a future without EV’s in certain markets so they’ll install fast chargers in those markets in order to retain their customers. They’ll work out how to make money for them and once they do they’ll block other competing technologies and continue to operate like a big corporate organization.

In 10 years time we’ll have big electron and they’ll be just as bad as big oil but at least there will be fewer people dying from pollution in our cities.

Charging has been a pretty terrible business model.

But perhaps combining charging with food, snacks, internet access, etc. could be a decent business model.

Exactly, they could offer free charging and still come out netting a good profit having an EV owner sitting there for 30 minutes. This has nothing to do with Shell and everything to do with the franchise owner. Gasoline profit margins are thin.

There is a petrol station in my town that installed a CHaDEMO charger. I believe it is privately owned. I know another private station owner who is contemplating, due to the influence of one of his more vocal EV-owning friends, installing a CHaDEMO charger. He has lost revenue and I can’t be sure why. All around town, there are abandoned gas stations. I don’t know why, but I see them here and when I travel for work, which is frustrating because I have to rent a car, which runs on petrol.
I remember when British Petroleum ran an ad for themselves calling BP “Beyond Petroleum.” I guess we will see, but the only reason I’d hold my breath for Shell Oil is if I was at one of their hybrid energy stations, charging my EV. As it is, I’ve charged my Tesla at the Beaver, UT supercharger, which is a Chevron petrol stop. At least they had Dairy Queen!

Vexar said:

“I remember when British Petroleum ran an ad for themselves calling BP ‘Beyond Petroleum’.”

And currently, ExxonMobil is heavily running an ad — or more properly, a disinformation campaign — on NBC (and MSNBC), claiming “And you thought we were just an oil company”.

The level of greenwashing by Big Oil is positively sickening.

For more on this subject, see “ExxonMobil Takes The Olympic Gold In Deceitful Advertising”:

I think this is a great idea. Gas stations are already strategically placed in areas that are convenient to motorist. This is a win for motorists and Shell. Only quick chargers (L3) will work.

Nothing new here.In Denmark circle K,and Shell have fast charging by Eon and Clever.Shell even has Tesla fast charging.Same goes for Sweden and Norway.

The oil company OK is going hydrogen(9 stations),but will have to go electric too.

The article says: “And by ‘potential’ we assume that to mean, potential to recover some lost petrol money from the ongoing plug-in vehicle onslaught.” As much as I’m an advocate of the EV revolution, this is ignoring the facts pretty firmly. The 1-2% of the new car market that represents sales of PEVs (Plug-in EVs) is not yet making an impact on Big Oil’s profits. (A recent InsideEVs article said PEV sales were approaching 1.5% in the UK*.) What is substantially cutting into their profits is the increasingly stiff mandates for increased fuel efficiency in gasmobiles. I certainly hope that Big Oil doesn’t get into the business of deploying for-profit EV chargers. There is a very clear conflict of interest there. In fact, I can easily believe that Big Oil companies might rush to deploy pubic EV chargers as a strategy to cut the legs out from the market for independent companies doing the same. Of course, since Big Oil’s goal is to stop the EV revolution or at least slow it as much as possible, we can be sure that whatever EV chargers they do deploy won’t be designed to make charging affordable and easy. What strategy might they… Read more »

Convenient locations along major arteries, add fast {L3} chargers and the station operator has added revenue outside and likely inside. Many convenience stores have deli areas and / or attached fast food locations. It makes good sense to me, even if it boils down to them hedging their bets. We could really use the infrastructure in the EV non-compliance states where very little charging infrastructure exists.

Makes sense if Shell CEO and board believe that humans are speeding up global warming.