UK considers £950m EV infrastructure investment

By - World Infrastructure Journal

UK considers £950m EV infrastructure investment

As the Department for Transport (DfT) has begun consulting on how to get the UK using electric vehicles (EVs) one thing has become clear – a green transition requires smart policymaking and ambition.

In 2030, the UK will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars – meaning that, in the words of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, EVs are “set to become the norm within the decade. ” As it stands, however, there are major roadblocks that must be addressed before the UK goes electric.

One of the most obvious of these obstacles is the current lack of EV charging ports, particularly outside of major urban areas. According to a recent Policy Exchange report, the UK’s current rate of charging point installation must increase by 400 per cent in order to deliver the necessary change to deliver a transition to EVs by 2030. More than 35,000 new points must be added annually by 2030, the report stated, meaning that EV infrastructure will need to become an area of policy priority.

In light of these issues the DfT, through the Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles (OZEV), has recently launched a consultation on the question of whether to mandate a minimum number of electric charging ports in non-residential car parks. The suggested mandate would see a requirement of 1 charging port for every 10 parking spaces implemented, with a framework in place to gradually increase this mandate to 1 charging port for every 5 parking spaces. The consultation, however, is not solely on the numbers of ports per car park, but also whether the DfT should be able to enact such a mandate, meaning there will be some time before the proposed changes to policy are to be implemented.

It will also be essential that these new ports are easy to use. To this end, the DfT is currently consulting on changes to the design and operation of charging point, with the goal of improving the user experience and establishing customer protections.

Also in consultation are plans to obligate local councils to “plan, disclose, deliver and report on EV infrastructure plans. ” While this proposal does address a pressing need for charging ports, it leaves local councils, which lack the funding and expertise to deliver more EV charging, in a difficult position.

Nearly a third of all councils have “no confirmed plans to install more charging points due to financial constraints. ” This difficulty is only compounded by the fact that, according to a recent Freedom of Information request from DevicePilot, English councils were only receiving £0.45 per capita of government funding for EV charging infrastructure in 2020.

In response, the DfT has proposed the Rapid Charging Fund, which would accept applications from public and private sector service operators and allocate £950 million on a competitive basis. However, there are reasons to be concerned with the fund’s potential impact – particularly if there is no stringent framework that mandates the construction of these new points is heavily coordinated to avoid isolating certain regions from EVs.

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