UK group introduces world's first pop-up mini solar car park and EV charging hub

By CARSIFU | 27 May 2022

LONDON: There's pop-up showrooms, so why not pop-up charging points for electric vehicles (EVs)?

3ti, the team behind the UK’s largest solar car parks, set out to prove critics wrong by launching Papilio3, the world’s first pop-up mini solar car park and electric vehicle charging hub, deployable in 24 hours.

Papilio3 is a modular unit providing up to 12 fast EV charge points, designed to expand EV infrastructure rapidly and provide a much improved, more reliable, safer destination and workplace charging experience for EV drivers.

The unit is built around a recycled shipping container and can support up to 12 fast EV charge points. The solar and battery-boosted charging system optimises the speed of charge and reduces the carbon intensity of electricity used. Papilio3 is available from 3ti on a rental contract and requires no capital investment by customers.

“Overnight charging at home generally provides the most cost effective, carbon efficient, sustainable form of EV charging, but in the UK, around 50% of households will not be able to do this,” said Tim Evans, 3ti founder & CEO, and leader of the teams responsible for the two largest solar car parks in the UK, at Bentley Motors, Crewe and JP Morgan, Bournemouth.

“If you live in a flat, a tower block, a rented house, in temporary accommodation or even in a £10m terraced town house in Chelsea, you’re probably not going to be able to charge an EV at home.

“We believe that solar and battery boosted destination and workplace charging will become the best EV charging solution for drivers, irrespective of the type of home they live in,” he said.

“By utilising dwell times of several hours, when cars are parked at work or when the driver is visiting a shopping or leisure venue, for example, 3ti’s system ensures that EVs can achieve a level of charge that covers day to day driving needs and does it in the most low carbon way.”


The first Papilio3 facility, located at the Surrey Research Park in Guildford, is fitted with three modular canopies that support 36 solar panels and has battery storage capacity of up to 250 kWh. It has been developed by 3ti with Cambridge Design Partners, and has been designed for roll-out at workplaces and public destinations such as hospitals, hotels, meeting venues, sports or shopping centres, tourist attractions and town centres.

Each unit offers sheltered, illuminated and secure parking, plus a convenient, available and reliable EV charging experience that supports a mixture of 7, 11 and 22 kilowatts.

Papilio3 integrates three technologies that are more usually considered individually: solar photovoltaic electricity generation, Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) and EV charge points.

Combining the three offers a range of benefits, including the ability to use grid energy, solar power and battery storage to optimise the speed and carbon intensity of EV charging. Onsite renewable energy generation from solar panels also reduces energy costs and gives businesses greater control over energy supply.

“Papilio3 isn’t just about providing the UK with a broader range of EV charge points,” concludes Evans. “It also focuses on the capture and management of renewable energy, as a way of reducing the country’s draw on carbon-intensive energy for EV charging at peak times.”

Papilio3 is tackling the UK’s need to expand electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure ahead of the government’s proposed ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles in 2030.

A typical solar car park with 350 spaces, will produce around 900,000 kWh of electricity a year and would save the equivalent of 6,000 tonnes of carbon emissions (tCO2e) over a 30 year period, according to UK government figures. This equates to powering around 7,000 homes or planting 100,000 trees.

The UK requires 2.8 million public EV charge points by 2035. There are currently just 52,000.