We first heard of ZipCharge from COP26, the global climate summit in Glasgow, back in November of 2021. That was when the UK startup introduced the Go, a compact, 4 kWh (net capacity) portable battery bank that's about the size and shape of an average-sized carry-on suitcase, and weighs about 23 kilograms (50 lbs).
The unit can charge an EV at 7.2 kW and the company promised that larger versions will also be introduced, offering up to 8 kWh of net capacity.
In about 30 minutes, the 4 kWh ZipCharge can add approximately 12 to 20 miles of driving range, depending on how efficient the electric vehicle is. The larger 8 kWh unit will require about an hour to fully discharge and will add roughly 25 to 40 miles of driving range.
With the announcement of the GoHub, ZipCharge is revealing more of how the company envisions its product ecosystem will work.
GoHubs will be stationary stations containing up to 10 of the portable Go units, allowing customers to rent one whenever the need arises.
The GoHub comes in two variants; a single-sided unit that houses five ZipCharge Go portable powerbanks, as well as a double-sided GoHub that can accommodate ten. Both units will fit into a standard-sized parking space. The GoHubs can be intelligently reconfigured, expanded, and connected together with minimal investment. As such, they can be installed in a variety of locations with relative ease.
The Go and the GoHub are integral components of our future energy platform, one that combines hardware, software, and distributed energy storage in the home and our public energy points to provide a wide range of energy services for our customers. We will use technology to solve the inequality that exists around access to charging and energy by placing a ZipCharge Go unit within five minutes walk of where people live and park. - ZipCharge Co-founder, Richie Sibal
Customers will have the ability to reserve a Go powerbank from one of the GoHubs through the ZipCharge app and the door to your assigned Go will open automatically as you approach the station.
The GoHub can also be configured to be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot and can have solar panels as well as wind turbines fitted to the roof to allow clean, renewable energy to contribute to charging the batteries. The units can also be set up as an e-bike or e-scooter depot and will charge the units back up in between rentals.
Circular Approach: Integrated second-life battery storage
The GoHubs re-use end-of-life batteries from the ZipCharge Go for onsite energy storage, thus offering a "circular approach" to extending battery life and usability, while also lowering cost.
The integrated energy storage system (ESS) in the GoHubs provides resiliency to the local grid by recharging the portable Go units during peak grid demand. The ESS is recharged from the solar (and in some cases wind) systems integrated into the roof and also from the grid, however during off-peak hours.
ZipCharge's Anytime access will allow anyone to use a Go powerbank for a very reasonable able fee: £1, €1 or $1 for a 4kWh charge with no additional connection fee.
If the cost sounds too good to be true, ZipCharge claims that it's possible because GoHubs use an integrated onsite energy storage system to recharge the units during off-peak hours when electricity is cleaner and much less expensive than during peak-rate hours.
From the ZipCharge press release:
- The GoHub will ‘power communities’ to make EV charging and access to energy more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable
- Shared access to Go powerbanks on-street in residential areas or off-street in any location such as supermarkets, shopping centres, and destination hubs
- Infrastructure that works in any location, rural or urban, to accelerate the deployment of public charging, particularly disadvantaged and underrepresented communities
- Three times faster and cheaper to install than comparative on-street charging and designed to fit into a single parking space
- Fully modular design enables GoHubs to be customised to the needs of the local community and location with a range of community, energy, and mobility options
- Features more than 100 kWh of second-life batteries to store clean energy, recharging Go powerbanks and providing balancing services to the grid
- With the GoHub, ZipCharge is uniquely positioned as the world’s first "energy point operator” providing energy-as-a-service in a future decentralised energy network
- ZipCharge targets the global deployment of 100,000 GoHubs by 2030 to support EV charging, local grid resiliency, and energy democracy
Gallery: ZipCharge GoHub
Improving the business case for public AC charging
ZipCharge says the GoHubs will be a third of the cost as well as three times faster to install when compared to fixed on street level 2 charging stations. The company claims that will reduce the payback period usually associated with public level 2 charging from eight to ten years to less than two. GoHubs can also be placed where the grid can best cope with the extra load, as well as being far less disruptive to the streetscape.
ZipCharge will offer a complete suite of technical support for the GoHubs and they will all be networked to the ZipCharge cloud and back office. The back office will provide energy management software and will ensure optimised charging costs and energy use.
Promising tech, but it's still early
It's important to note that ZipCharge is still in the process of launching the Go, and still has considerable hurdles to overcome before the startup proves its business case. However, the details announced in this second phase of the Go ecosystem sheds light on how the company plans to recharge and distribute the portable units, and how they will use energy arbitrage to offer them at such competitive rates.
Disclosure: The author, Tom Moloughney, was recently announced as a member of the ZipCharge Product Advisory Board.