electric/hybrid

UK electric Vehicle ‘black hole’ with shortfall of 250,000 chargers in next decade

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New research from UK100, the network of mayors and local leaders, shows that the UK’s charging infrastructure is likely to creak under demand as there are only 12 rapid electric vehicle chargers in each local council area, fewer than 7 for every 100,000 people in the UK - or 1 charger for every 14,705 people.
UK electric Vehicle ‘black hole’ with shortfall of 250,000 chargers in next decade
Courtesy of Rod Allday

Currently, the UK has 24,374 public charging points, but will need around 325,000 public charging points in just over a decade in order to meet the demand. New UK100 analysis shows that at the current rate of growth, it is predicted there will be around 76,849 chargers by 2032, a shortfall of nearly a quarter of a million (248,151), or only a quarter of the expected demand.

Around 18 million battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) will be on the road when the ban on the sale of new internal combustion vehicles is introduced in 2030.

In a UK100 report to be published entitled ‘Economic Benefits of Local Climate Action’, researchers have found that 136 local authorities have 5 or fewer rapid chargers which are accessible to the public, and will struggle to keep up with demand.

The group is calling for local authorities to be given greater funding and powers to force energy companies to install electric vehicle charging points. A recent communique signed by 32 mayors and local leaders urged the government to reduce “the high costs of connecting EV charging networks to the grid...to enable a seamless vehicle charging network across the UK.”

“Our research shows that the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure is going to creak under demand with a ‘black hole’ of a quarter of a million chargers” said Polly Billington, CEO of UK100. “We need a coherent plan to massively accelerate our investment in the infrastructure that will enable us to meet Net Zero. Consumers are willing to do the right thing but only if they have confidence the networks are in place.”

The vast majority of EV chargers are in London (7,489 chargers) - which has 8 times as many per person than the North East (887 chargers).  Of the top 10 areas with the most public charging points, only 3 are outside London (Milton Keynes, Coventry and Brighton & Hove).

With the sale of new petrol and diesel cars due to be banned from 2030, a huge rise in the number of electric cars and vans is expected in the coming years.

According to a May 2021 report, Ofgem predicts that one in four consumers plan to buy an electric car in next five years.  While charge point grant programmes have been rolled out, a CCC report warns that “there is an absence of an overarching strategy to coordinate and support Local Authorities to ensure that the required number of charge points, especially on street and rapid charging points, by region is available in time.”

Transport is now the highest emitting sector of the UK economy, accounting for 22 percent of total GHG emissions, 113 MtCO2e in 2019. Cars comprise 13 percent of the UK’s GHG emissions, vans 4 percent and HGVs 4 percent. Urgent action is required to drive down transport emissions, as they have remained largely flat since 1990.

Currently, 139 Local Authorities have 30 or fewer charging points for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

The 5 areas with the fewest electric chargers are: Castle Point, Fenland, Selby, Brentwood and Barrow in Furness. The 5 areas with the most chargers are: Westminster, Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Coventry.

While the UK Government has set targets to double rapid charging by 2024 and ensure access to 2,500 high powered charging points across England’s inter-urban routes, no targets have been set for on-street or at-home charging. Currently, 80% of EV users charge their vehicles at home overnight, while 34 percent of households do not have off-street parking and need to charge on-street or elsewhere. Charge point grant programmes have been rolled out, but there is an absence of an overarching strategy to coordinate and support Local Authorities to ensure that the required number of charge points by region is available in time.

The Government has promised to publish a Local Authority Toolkit by the end of 2021 as a guide for local councils and regional mayors to deliver on the measures outlined in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan.  EV charging infrastructure needs to be central to this.

A shift to electric and hybrid cars has already started within the UK, aided in part by government support. The CCC projects that around 18 million battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will be on the road when the ban on the sale of new internal combustion vehicles is introduced in 2030. According to a May 2021 report, Ofgem predicts that one in four consumers plan to buy an electric car in next five years.  While charge point grant programmes have been rolled out, there is an absence of an overarching strategy to coordinate and support Local Authorities to ensure that the required number of charge points, especially on street and rapid charging points, by region is available in time.

Active travel - walking and cycling - and public transport investment can have significant impacts on employment and generate productivity and efficiency improvements across the economy, while reducing stubbornly high transport emissions.

Every £1m of investment in sustainable transport infrastructure can create 12.7 FTE jobs in the UK economy. Moreover, for every kilometre of greenways and cycle paths constructed 1.6 FTE jobs can be created directly, indirectly and induced. For local authorities these benefits stand in contrast to the ‘jobs per pound invested’ secured by funding typical roads projects. A Sustrans jobs study argues that ‘smaller scale projects and investment in sustainable transport create more jobs per pound invested’ than carbon- and resource-intensive road infrastructure projects.

As the National Audit Office made clear, “without an overall framework of roles and responsibilities, there is a risk that local authority action is not as coordinated or targeted as it needs to be”, and there is a danger of missed synergies, opportunities for collaboration at sub-national levels (on critical issues such as the deployment of hydrogen for heating or public transportation, or the provision for electric charging infrastructure for electric vehicles).

New research by UK100 shows that local authorities across the UK are responsible for 28,464 tonnes of CO2, around half of public sector contribution to Net Zero. Over a fifth (21 percent) of those emissions are from municipal waste management.

For additional information:

UK100

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