EV charging plans 'won't be enough'

03/02/2021
Chris Ames

The UK needs to install public electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints five times faster than the current rate and spend up to eight times more, or £10bn by 2030, a think tank has said.

In a new report, Policy Exchange said that without further Government intervention there is a risk that the UK will not develop a comprehensive network of EV chargepoints, which are essential as EV ownership increases ahead of a ban on the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030.

The report welcomes the Government’s commitment to invest £1.3bn of in EV charging infrastructure but its analysis suggests that by 2030 operators will need to invest between £5bn and £10bn in chargepoints and associated grid connection upgrades, requiring significant additional investment from private sector.

The think tank pointed out that the UK currently has around 35,000 public EV chargepoints and operators are installing around 7,000 new ones each year but said that by 2030, it is likely the UK will need around 400,000 public chargepoints, including around 6,000 high-powered chargepoints.

The report says operators are ‘broadly on track’ to deliver this number of high-powered chargepoints.

But it adds that there could be issues installing them at key locations including motorway service areas, which may require expensive new connections to the electricity grid.

There is also a risk that operators will build too few chargepoints in rural areas, which could put at risk the Government’s manifesto commitment to ensure that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid EV chargepoint.

To deliver a comprehensive network of EV chargepoints, the Policy Exchange report argues that the Government should replace existing grant schemes with long-term contracts for operators, procured through regular, competitive tenders.

Policy Exchange said it recognised that its recommendations ‘form a significant intervention in the market for EV chargepoints’ and ‘if this intervention is done badly, there is a risk that the Government could crowd out investment from the private sector rather than encourage it’.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘Without a big increase in the number of charge points right across the UK, certain parts of the country risk getting left behind as 2030 approaches.’

The report was published as transport secretary Grant Shapps wrote to local authorities urging them to apply for a share of £20m to help increase the number of on-street electric vehicle chargepoints.

The cash - available under the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) for 2021/22 - will cover 75% of the capital costs of procuring and installing the chargepoint and an associated dedicated parking bay if required.

The Government said the £20m could deliver 4,000 more chargepoints, doubling the number available across the UK.

The fund is open to local authorities across the UK, via the Energy Saving Trust.

The Trust’s senior programme manager, Nick Harvey, said: 'The confirmation of £20m of funding for the ORCS in 2021/22 is great news. This funding will allow local authorities to install convenient and cost-effective electric vehicle charging infrastructure for those who rely on on-street parking.'

Last month transport minister Rachel Maclean told MPs that out of £20m available under ORCS during 2020/21, £6m had been allocated to English local authorities.

The Government appears to have previously rolled forward unspent cash into the next financial year, meaning that the 2021/22 funding may not be entirely new money.

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