The topic of electric vehicles (and, by extension, electric vehicle charging) is at the forefront of discussion around sustainability at present, with the UK Government recognising this as a key pillar of its ambitious ‘Net-Zero’ target and the new Biden administration in the US committing to replace its c.650,000 government vehicle fleet with electric vehicles.

With that in mind, I attended a webinar hosted by Built Environment focusing on the question of: ‘how we can ensure that the UK is ready for the looming increase in EV cars?’.  

Here are my 5 key takeaways from the illuminating panel discussion with Joe Ellwood from ABB, Dan Martin from Elmtronics and David Hytch from Franklin Energy:

  • EV Statistics – Take-up of EVs in the UK is rising rapidly as car manufacturers look to establish their products in the market before the Government’s 2030 ban on the sale of new diesel/petrol engine vehicles - by way of example,16% of new cars sold last month were EV compared with 4% in the same month last year;

  • Supply of Electric Vehicle Charging Points – Despite year on year increases, the current supply of new ECVPs is significantly lagging behind the target required to meet estimates of demand in 2030.  Solutions will need to come from a combination of the public and private sector - the Government has announced £1.5bn funding but the focus will also be shifted onto developers and house-builders via changes to Building Regulations, which will take effect later this year, to require the installation of EVCPs in all new homes and non-residential buildings;

  • Roaming/Inter-operability – Increased numbers of EVCPs in the UK will not ease consumer concerns around supply unless there is a focus on EVCP operators incorporating ‘inter-operability’ into their systems, i.e. ensuring that consumers can use any EVCP without requiring multiple network memberships with different suppliers;

  • Flexibility – Businesses and landowners should ensure that the existing supply of EVCPs is used with maximum efficiency.  For example, through incorporating 'Smart Charging' to dynamically adjust the power supply based on other energy demands across a building/estate and evaluating opportunities to make EVCPs available during off-peak hours, for example by freeing up EVCPs on office premises overnight for use by commercial fleet vehicles/taxis;

  • Bigger Picture – While the focus on the shift from petrol/diesel vehicles is important, central Government, local authorities and indeed individual employers will need to recognise that this is just one piece in the Net-Zero puzzle.  Reducing overall number of vehicles on the road is just as vital in the push to drive down carbon emissions.

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