Located in the heart of Buckinghamshire, GRIDSERVE Sustainable Energy Ltd is leading the way in the design and delivery of innovative hybrid solar solutions for critical power infrastructure and Electric Vehicle (EV) charging solutions known as Electric Forecourts®.
While a relatively new business, having formed in 2017, GRIDSERVE is made-up of experienced sustainable energy professionals with roots that started out with some of the world’s first commercial deployments of solar energy and energy storage solutions some 40-years ago.
This team has been responsible for developing, constructing, and operating more than a gigawatt of solar energy and energy storage solutions, including connecting over 100 utility-scale sustainable energy projects to the UK grid, in the last five years alone.
And its growth plans do not stop there: In 2019, the firm delivered the most technically advanced hybrid solar projects ever built in the UK and installed more solar capacity than any other business across the country.
Using Data to Support Innovation
With a focus on sustainable energy solutions, GRIDSERVE’s key proposition is two-fold: in Europe and the Middle East, the team primarily develops solar farms and storage, while in the UK, it is actively developing electric charging forecourts, and is one of the first organisations to do this on a national scale.
Rob Stapleton, GIS Manager for GRIDSERVE explains: “It is a very exciting time for our business; we are aiming to be an energy neutral organisation to provide Net Zero Energy Transport. We want to put as much power into the Grid as we take out through the EV charging forecourts. As we ramp up our operations, we have ambitions to construct at least 100 Electric Forecourts® over the next five years.”
As part of this plan, the team of 70 is currently working on 18 active Electric Forecourt® site opportunities and the first one is already open in Braintree, Essex. A further seven are in the planning stage currently, and fifteen are at the detailed feasibility study stage.
The team are also working on seven hybrid solar farm development opportunities, with one recently going live near York and another under construction near Hull. The remaining projects are within the feasibility and planning phases.
Confirms Rob: “For every project, once we have undertaken the initial feasibility and site assessment, we embark on the planning phase. As a matter of course, we use Landmark’s Promap to access the detailed MasterMap location data at the genesis of every project. Having reviewed a site’s criteria, we then progress to planning, and for this we need accurate data on which to base these.”
The team extracts the data and converts it into their preferred ArcGIS, GML or AutoCAD DWG format, so they can start manipulating the data with the GIS. Adds Rob:
“GRIDSERVE has been using Promap since around 2017. It’s really easy to get the data you need, quickly. You log-in, define the polygon that you want, tick what data you want and formats, see the price and then order it. We find other mapping services to not be as intuitive and in general the costs are higher too. Promap is very competitive price wise.”
In addition to accessing MasterMap data, the GRIDSERVE team has begun accessing its utilities reports from within Promap.
Explains Rob: “We decided to switch to Promap for our Utilities site intelligence as it consolidates our data requirements into one system. The Utilities searches were previously being done by a different supplier, including site project managers, however it made more sense if we were getting the MasterMap data and Utilities at the same time. It not only centralises our billing, but also means the outputs are available to the entire company.
“We also like the web-based interface; it’s very easy to define what you want on the screen, see the cost and order. We also intend to take advantage of the Promap Digital Utilities Overview Plan, which essentially will provide us with a visual line representation of all the information provided in a utility report, but is translated and combined onto a single plan, which should save time analysing everything separately.”
When asked what the main advantages of Promap are to the GRIDSERVE business, Rob concludes: “For all the projects we are working on, we are using Promap data in our legal and planning documentation. For the advanced stages of our projects, we also use Promap data as the basis of our construction and engineering documents – with utilities data now included for all projects moving forward.
“It’s quick and easy to get the data you need, and the costs are competitive. We have some very defined growth plans in place, so being able to rely on our location data and mapping intelligence is very important when embarking on our next active development.”