Plan for EVs or face blackouts, MPs warn

29/07/2021
Chris Ames

MPs have warned of a potential ‘lottery’ in electric vehicle (EV) charging and called for a clear policy framework to ensure that industry can deliver the vehicles and infrastructure required to phase out conventionally powered cars and vans.

In a new report, the Transport Select Committee has set out a raft of recommendations to Government to boost the production and purchase of EVs.

Unless charging habits change, or the National Grid is strengthened, the charging needs from millions of new electric vehicles could cause blackouts, the MPs said.

MPs also pointed out that while accessible and reliable charging infrastructure must be available by 2030, drivers who live in rural or remote areas or without off-street parking risk being left behind.

Committee chair Huw Merriman MP said: ‘Putting guarantees in place on infrastructure is crucial but one report after another flags concerns to Government about the provision of electric car charging infrastructure. Let ours be the last: it’s time that ministers set out the route map to delivering a network of services for everyone across the UK.

‘Unless the National Grid gains more capacity, consumer behaviour will have to alter so that charging takes place when supply can meet the additional demand. The alternative will be blackouts in parts of the country. We also cannot have a repeat of the broadband and mobile not-spot lottery which would mean those in remote parts cannot join the electric vehicle revolution.’

MPs said that with charging at home substantially cheaper than on-street charging, pricing must be fair for people who charge their electric vehicles in public spaces.

The committee welcomed the Government’s commitment to regulate interoperability between charge points and pricing transparency for public charge points later this year: ‘However, mandating industry to use pricing to move consumer behaviour towards a little and often refuelling habit will also help.’

MPs said the Government must:

  • work with the National Grid to map national coverage to eradicate ‘not-spot’ areas and identify locations where the Grid will not cope with additional usage
  • make public charge provision a requirement of local development and provide funding for local planning and transport bodies to hire staff with a mandate to deliver charging infrastructure
  • protect the consumer from excessive charges and multiple accounts when charging in public
  • address the discrepancy between the 5% VAT incurred for home charging and 20% VAT for on-street
  • insist that industry uses price to change consumer charging behaviour to a ‘little but often’ approach and at times when the National Grid can meet total demand
  • boost the manufacturing and sales of new electric vehicles by requiring those who sell the fewest electric vehicles to buy credits from those who produce the most; such credit to then be used to reduce the purchase price of electric vehicles (the ‘ZEV Mandate’).

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