Automotive

Where’s the charging infrastructure for these EV targets?

26th July 2022
Kiera Sowery

Since 2012, EV stock in the UK has doubled year on year. By 2030, electric vehicle (EV) ownership is estimated to reach 100 million units globally.

This come’s with the news that the UK government has followed in France’s footsteps, declaring the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040. The transition to zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) will assist the UK in meeting its legally binding climate change targets.

Overall, it will improve air quality in towns and cities and support economic growth. Importantly, it will also put the UK at the forefront of the EV revolution. With this transition to EV’s comes the requirement for EV charging points, and it’s crucial that charging infrastructure meets the demand. Whilst charging technology has been evolving at a fast pace, electrical infrastructure development across cities has remained a challenge. The UK government is therefore making EV development a priority.

Concerns relating to the initial price and availability of EV charging remain at the top of the list for discouraging people from switching to an EV. The availability of charging points along with educating the public is astronomical in supporting the adoption of EVs.

It has been reported by the European Automotive Manufacturers Association (ACEA) that at least 2.8 million electric charge points will be required across Europe by 2030, a 2000% increase required to support the upcoming wave of EVs over the next decade.

In the Autumn 2017 Budget, £500m was pledged to fund the charging network and provide grants for plug-in-hybrids. Similarly, in the Queen’s speech in June 2017 the government announced the introduction of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill which set requirements for the provision of charging points.

Building on the £1.9bn from the Spending Review 2020, the government has committed an additional £620m to support the transition to EVs.

Acknowledging this is a new and complex area, the government has announced that local authorities play a crucial role in enabling the transition to ZEVs. This includes proactively supporting and delivering the rollout of EV charge points and helping ensure the transition is integrated into wider local transport and community needs.

From an industry perspective, Volkswagen plans to invest $12bn by 2025 to develop and manufacture electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Southern Rail has also begun an upgrade project of its free-to-use EV charging point network, installing them at key stations.

Home charging infrastructure

No matter the vehicle type, most UK drivers (78%) have off-street parking at home. Homeowners are the largest share of vehicle drivers. The most common time to charge at home is between 5pm and 8pm.

Many UK drivers have access to off-street parking; therefore, many will choose to charge their vehicles at home. To cope with this extra demand, it is crucial that residential power grids are reinforced and smart technologies are deployed.

This availability is lower in cities. In London, only 48% of vehicles drivers have off-street parking. Those living in cities are therefore less likely to have access to off-street parking, meaning access to public charge points will play a vital role in supporting EV adoption rates.

Local authorities

A significant national and local policy challenge is how to ensure sufficient provision of EV charge points for residents without parking. The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) provides funding towards the capital costs of installing public charging infrastructure for residents without private parking. The scheme supports installations both on-street and in local authority-owned residential car parks. In the 2022-2023 financial year, £20m is available through the ORCS.

The Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund will also help authorities leverage private sector investment into their local charging networks and put in place long-term, sustainable charging infrastructure. A £10m pilot has been launched to ensure the LEVI fund best supports local authorities in delivery.

The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) can assist local authorities in electrifying their fleets to help transition staff to EVs. The WCS is a voucher-based scheme open to all local authorities, providing support towards the upfront costs of the purchase and installation of EV charge points that are dedicated to staff or fleet use. The scheme provides up to £350 for each charge point socket installed at a site, with applicants being able to receive 40 grants.

The WCS is open to small accommodation businesses and the charity sector to accelerate EV uptake in rural areas and support the tourism industry.

Going forward and increasing adoption

Together, industry and government must at the very least keep pace, or get ahead of demand. It is an ecosystem, and there isn’t one key solution or player. Working together and understanding change will ensure a solution to the problem. The evolution of national charging infrastructure is vital for increased adoption rates of EVs in the UK. Key issues remain that must be addressed to ensure this is a success, including reinforcing residential power grids, developing smart technologies and investing in workplace and public charging points. Once infrastructure networks are upgraded this will pave the way for the private sector to innovate.

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