Government releases the UK electric vehicle infrastructure strategy

7th April 2022

Sean Coleman

The UK electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure strategy was published on the 25 March 2022. This strategy outlines the government’s vision and plan to end the sale of new petrol and diesel petrol vehicles by 2030.

The key challenges of an EV infrastructure is considered within the strategy and outlined below, however the full document released by government can be found here.

Background

The UK is on course to be the fastest nation in the G7 to decarbonize road transport and the people of the UK are slowly embracing the transition to green road transport with 190,000 EV’s sold in 2021 (1 in 8 of all new cars were electric)

EVs are getting cheaper to buy and becoming more efficient in their use, as there are now 29,600 public charge points across the UK, of which over 5,400 are ‘rapid’ (charge an EV in around 30 minutes) charge points, serving 750,000 plug-in vehicles. These figures are also swiftly increasing with on average 600 chargers (including 100 rapid chargers) being added to the UK network each month. This is led by the government’s commitment of £2.5 billion, (including £1.5 billion on charging infrastructure) to be spent on the EV transition, which was agreed in 2020. A map showing all UK charging points, including in-depth statistics about charging points specifics, from providers, to speed and infrastructure growth, is available here.

With the UKs clean electricity mix today, a typical battery electric car, run from the grid is estimated to produce only a third of the GHG’s a petrol/diesel car would, demonstrating the benefit and importance of making this shift to EV’s.

Positively, it is companies that are leading this movement, by purchasing fleets of electric vehicles representing 56.5% of new car sales in 2021.

As more and more people move to an EV, confidence in the EV infrastructure grows, leading to less than 1% of people who have switched to an EV want to go back to a petrol/diesel vehicle.

Key Challenges to EV’s: Charging points and vehicle availability

The growing pace of the charging infrastructure, despite being positive, is not operating at a speed quick enough to meet the projected 2030 needs. At the current rate of rollout, only 58,000 more chargers will be added by 2030 (for a total of around 90,000 public charge points), however, it is expected the UK will need between 300,000-700,000 public chargers by 2030 to meet targets. 

This is likely due to the rate of installation for on street parking, which is significantly lagging in relation to other charger installations e.g., private drive.  This is because connecting new charge points to the electricity system mains can be slow and expensive. In addition to this from a company’s perspective, to make changes to the grid for large projects e.g., charge points for company fleets, can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and take several years.

It is the lack of sufficient charging supply and availability across the country which creates a lack of confidence in EV, causing people to be unwilling to switch from petrol/diesel vehicles. In addition to this, only 9% of public charging points offer contactless payment, some requiring apps or smartcards and the cost of public charging is likely to be between 59% and 78% higher than charging at home.

Key strategy and policy

In response to the challenges outlined above, the government have proposed the following plan leading to a better and smoother transition to an EV infrastructure.

Charging Infrastructure

  • From June 2022, all new homes, or those undergoing major renovation, with associated parking will have to have charge points installed.
  • Address issues with reliability, ease of payment and locating the right charge point. It is expected there will be new legislation this year regarding this.
  • All publicly available rapid charge points of 50kW and over will have to meet 99% minimum reliability standards by the end of 2023.
  • £950m fund to rollout 6,000 rapid charging points on motorways and major A roads by 2035 (minimum 6 high powered open access charge points per services by 2023).
  • Poor spatial disparity of charge points will be considered when allocating funding to ensure all areas of the UK have appropriate EV infrastructure.
  • The government are launching a £10m pilot test, the aim of this is to see how they can most effectively support local authorities procuring charge point deployment by trialling different delivery mechanisms, business models and technologies.
  • Ofgem (Office of gas and electricity markets) are seeking to reduce the cost of new grid connections where upgrades to the existing network are required, from April 2023. Ofgem is placing a clear expectation on network companies to anticipate and accommodate increasing demand. Electricity companies are making adaptions to make it easier to facilitate new connections. These actions must be included in the company’s business plans when bidding for new governmental work/ contracts.
  • The government are reporting on several metrics to ensure they meet their targets by 2030 which can be seen below. This approach will be reviewed by 2023 to establish if any changes need to be made;
      • The percentage of households with vehicles parked on-street compared to the number of public charge points in an area;
      • Typical average walking time to a public charge point for households in areas with many vehicles parked on the street;
      • Utilisation of public charge points (this will be over a longer time frame and will build on work to open up charge point data).
      • Monitor consumer behaviour and experiences at charge points

Financial support/grants

This year, the Electric Vehicle Home charge Scheme (EVHS) will reform, they will focus on supporting people living in flats and rented accommodation to access the benefits of home charging.

Figure 1: Government funding initiatives

Balancing demand on the grid

How and when people charge their EV will be crucial for the impacts on the electricity system as 75% of EV charging is estimated to be done at home. As a result, there will likely be high demand for electricity when people return from work and plug in. This will cause a spike in consumption between 17:00-20:00 and place greater pressures on the network. This means that smart charging will be essential in mitigating this as it allow EVs to charge when it is most efficient for the electricity network. Smart charging can be completed with settings to ensure a certain level of charge is available by a certain time to ensure you have enough charge for the following day while still exploiting lower energy tariffs. This saves money and puts less pressure on the electricity network.

It is estimated that road transport could represent approximately 15% of total electricity demand in 2050 compared to less than 1% of demand today.

Transitioning to an EV Infrastructure is just one route to reducing the impacts of climate change on the world. If you as a business wish to take your own actions forward, you can discover our carbon emissions reduction service offering here and get in touch with our team for more details at carbon@complydirect.com