26 Feb 2010

OU helps bring electric car charging infrastructure to Milton Keynes

Electric cars, vans and buses could be on the streets in Milton Keynes thanks to a £4.9m award from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles to develop a charging infrastructure for electric cars. The Open University is a partner in the programme and part of the Milton Keynes Council Consortium.

The programme, Plugged in Places, will help create a national charging network for electric cars and vans. Milton Keynes has also recently obtained funds for the introduction of nine electric buses. These initiatives link closely to the University’s energy and sustainability research and enterprise agenda and its work to support the local community.

Stephen Potter, Professor of Transport Strategy at The Open University said: “The Plugged in Places programme will provide an advance wave of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. The Open University’s contribution will be to engage with the local community, distribute information about the project and find out if it has changed their behaviour.

During the first stage, a core grid of charging points will be installed across the city centre. The second stage will see the introduction of fast charge points and additional standard charge points beyond the city centre, while the final stage will involve a roll out across the borough.

The consortium will work closely with local businesses, organisations, public and community groups to support the installation of charge points on their premises, integrating the provision with workplace travel plans, employer pool cars and low carbon car clubs.

This project is part of an overall Low Carbon Living Agenda for Milton Keynes, which also encompasses buildings, energy, and waste. The overall vision is to make Milton Keynes a national and international exemplar for low carbon living.

Editor's Notes:
The Open University's partners are the Milton Keynes Economy and Learning Partnership, Milton Keynes Council, Invest Milton Keynes, the South East England Development Agency and Cranfield University.

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than two million students and currently has more than 229,000 current students, including more than 25,000 overseas, learning in their own time using course materials, online activities and content, web-based forums and tutorials and through tutor groups and residential schools.

The OU has been consistently highly rated for teaching quality, and has been at the top of student satisfaction rankings in the National Student Survey since it was introduced in 2005. 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and three out of four FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

The OU supports a vibrant research portfolio and in the UK's latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008), the University climbed 23 places to 43rd, securing a place in the UK's top 50 higher education institutions.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, the Open University’s free learning website, which has had more than 10 million unique visitors, and materials on iTunes U, which now has 13 million downloads. The OU has a 40 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Life, Coast, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.

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