The UK government says ensuring EV charging infrastructure is simple and convenient to use will be crucial to mass adoption
Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in the UK is set to have its government funding doubled to £10m ($13m) next year.
As many as 3,600 additional charge points will be installed along residential streets in the country in an attempt to make it easier for EV owners without access to off-street parking to plug into the grid at home and overnight.
The government says making charging as simple and convenient as possible will be “crucial” in the push to phase out petrol and diesel cars from UK roads.
There are currently 24,000 publicly-available EV charging stations in Britain, including more than 2,400 that allow rapid charging – making it one of the biggest charging networks in Europe.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We want to make electric cars the new normal, and ensuring drivers have convenient places to charge is key to that.
“By doubling funding again for charge points on streets where people live and opening up data we are helping drivers easily locate and use affordable, reliable charge points whether at home or on the road.”
Data will be key to improving EV charging infrastructure in the UK
Westminster’s strategy for boosting EV infrastructure in the UK includes developing a public database that provides real-time information about charge point availability, which it says could be incorporated into sat navs and route-mapping apps used by drivers.
Opening up data about charge point use and working condition could help to develop a better-functioning network, say policymakers, by making it easier for drivers to choose when and where to plug in.
Future of transport minister George Freeman added: “The government is accelerating UK leadership in digitalisation and decarbonisation through our future of transport strategy.
“Supporting the smart use of open data for new apps to help passengers and drivers plan journeys, and to reduce congestion and pollution, is key.
“Comprehensive charge point data is crucial for mapping charging hotspots and ‘notspots’ for consumers, to help to drive forward the electric vehicle revolution.
“We urge local councils to make use of the funding available to ensure their residents feel the benefits of cleaner transport.”
Consumers need better residential charging options to embrace electric vehicles
A key part of the UK’s energy transition strategy is to encourage more drivers to switch to electric vehicles – with only 0.5% of licensed cars currently estimated to be electrically-powered, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
The National Grid has given ambitious estimates of there being as many as 10 million on the country’s roads by 2030, although some industry observers suggest there will need to be a significant change in consumer habits and opinion for such a big transition to happen.
Speaking at a recent industry event, Professor Jillian Anable, energy and transport chairwoman at the University of Leeds’ Institute for Transport Studies, identified three key blockers to wider adoption as being choice of vehicles for customers, regulatory consistency and – crucially – better country-wide residential charging infrastructure.
She said: “There’s a wide range of estimates for what proportion of cars are actually parked off-street overnight and some EV uptake estimates are linked to these numbers.
“We need to get a grip on that. Even homes with a driveway might only have space for one car but the household could have two cars, so what are they going to do – get up in the middle of the night to swap the cars over?
“We need to think more about residential on-street parking and I think we’ll see different solutions coming through, such as pop-up chargers that can be plugged into the pavement, lamp post charging and plugging into telecoms street cabinets.
“It’s a space where the most innovation has to happen but it will also involve lots of infrastructure challenges, as councils will have to tear up pavements to install connections and decide which streets to prioritise.”