Author: Oscar Pusey, Junior Analyst at Zero Carbon Academy
New UK electric vehicle infrastructure strategy frees up millions of pounds for local authorities to speed up the scaling up of electric vehicle infrastructure.
Keeping pace with electric vehicle popularity
Today, the UK’s share of 37 million conventional diesel and petrol vehicles are kept moving by 66,000 spaces at petrol pumps across the UK and this is now the UK’s largest greenhouse gas emitting sector.[i],[ii] In order to meet current UK decarbonisation targets, it’s projected that as many as 37% of cars and vans will need to be battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2030.[iii] Since 2019 the percentage of new vehicles registered in the UK that utilise electric propulsion has seen more than a 4-fold increase as the UK join the likes of Germany, Iceland, Sweden and Greece in banning the sales of fossil fuel powered vehicles by 2030.[iv]
Proportion of new car registrations which are PHEV, BEV, alongside total plug-in EV
Source: Next Greencar
Ensuring that the UK’s future fleet of BEVs is supported by a national network of charging points is vital in the pursuit of this component on the path to net zero. Consequently the Department for Transport released their UK electric vehicle infrastructure strategy on the 25th of March 2022. The Strategy outlines how they will address the barrier of charging infrastructure, and reach a minimum of 300,000 public charging points by 2030.[v]
The challenge ahead
The UK electric vehicle infrastructure strategy identified 5 key challenges in rising to meet this need.[vi]
- The rollout is too gradual – even the recent boom in chargepoint deployment falls short of what is required for a completely zero-emission new car fleet by 2035. This is especially true for low-power on-street charging, which is critical for drivers who do not have driveways. Managing planning arrangements might be a factor: multiple permits, consents and licences may be required by chargepoint installers, which increases deployment time and expense.
- Public charging frequently disappoints EV drivers — while many EV drivers with driveways find that they can fulfil practically all of their charging demands at home, every EV driver desires access to a plentiful, reliable, and reasonably priced public charging network. However, consumers frequently encounter poor customer support, obfuscated or excessive pricing fees, unreliability, and complex access regimes involving many apps and smartcards.
- The business case for commercial deployment can be difficult to make, especially in places where there is a risk of low utilisation or expensive connection fees. There will be large regional differences in deployment by 2022. This presents a "chicken-and-egg" conundrum, with potential EV buyers, both individuals and corporate fleets, delaying purchases until a more visible infrastructure is in place.
- Connecting new chargepoints to the electricity grid can be time-consuming and costly; this is especially true in remote areas where new high-power connections are needed, or in places where the current distribution network has inadequate capacity, such as for charging vehicle fleets in depots. Several chargepoint operators have brand new chargepoints built but are awaiting a grid connection to turn them on.
- Greater local engagement is needed, leadership and planning – local governments are critical to the effective deployment of chargepoints, especially for extensive on-street charging. They're in a great position to figure out what residents, fleets, and visitors need in terms of charging. However, the current situation is complicated. Some people are pushing the agenda ahead quickly, while others lack devoted resources and skills. Delays in obtaining planning clearance are frequently noted as a key stumbling block to implementation, and the interaction between municipal parking and pricing rules is still a work in progress.
Rising to the challenge
In response to the problems identified, the Department for Transport have designed a two-pronged strategy to ensure that BEVs can play their vital role in the path to net zero. Firstly, accelerating the implementation of high-powered chargers on the strategic road network.
Source: Department for Transport
Secondly, local on street charging will be developed.
Source: Department for Transport
For a long time, BEVs have been seen as a policy for the future, but proactive investment into infrastructure as we approach 2030 means that the decarbonisation of the UK surface transport sector seems more realistic and achievable than ever.
Experts react: commentary on Edie.net
Zero Carbon Academy (www.zerocarbonacademy.com) aims to become the ‘go-to’ resource for the learning, information and community that individuals need to assess, plan, execute and monitor their organisation's migration towards a Zero Carbon footprint.
This blog reflects the authors own opinions, it therefore does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of the business, or any affiliated organisations.
The information presented in this blog is purely for interest, it should not be seen as direct business advice or investment strategy - using it for such purposes remains at your own risk.
Our analysts work hard to gather these insights, as such please do quote and link back to their research, or ask permission, before using excerpts.