This is an abridged version of an article by energy expert Dave Horton that appeared in a recent issue of the Energy Managers Association (EMA) Magazine.

 

Nowadays, we hear a lot about electric vehicles and how we’ll all be driving one soon. But recent research we commissioned from YouGov shows that both public and private sector organisations are cautious about making the transition – at least for now.

 

The barrier most cite is a lack of charging points on UK roads. But how will we get more without sufficient numbers of EVs to use them?

 

Most EVs only charged at home

Certainly, more than 60% of private EV owners have never charged their vehicles away from their homes – and they don’t see that changing in the near future.

 

But as EV numbers and range increase, then more will start to travel further afield for business or pleasure and will therefore need to charge their vehicle to get home again.

 

We also need to consider those drivers who don’t have access to a garage or drive, so can only charge at the street side. Then we have commercial vehicles, public transport and taxis, which are moving around our urban areas all day and need to charge on the go.

 

Offering an additional stakeholder benefit

Many organisations are starting to consider offering EV charging as an increasingly essential resource for their stakeholders. Others also see the potential to create new revenue streams by offering parking with EV charging, especially in the public sector.

 

So clearly we do need a public charging network – for lots of reasons. But which is likely to come first – the EVs or the charging infrastructure?

 

Domestic market to expand first

In my view, we’ll first see an expansion in the ‘at home’ charging network for domestic and fleet vehicles. I’m talking about private cars, company cars and some company vans which are kept at the employees’ homes overnight.

 

The infrastructure requirements are reasonably simple. The data collection and reporting capability – depending on where and from who you buy your charging point – is already available. So many EV drivers won’t need to use public charging points.

 

Organisations with electric fleet or company cars which park at their sites during the day will need to look at installing EV charging for their staff, and potentially a few extra for visitors But these might not be available to the general public.

 

Then as numbers of EVs increase, we’ll see more demand for publically available points.

 

Creating the right environment for investment

So what’s needed to start the ball rolling? Here are some ideas:

 

  1. Make planning consent mandatory. Central government should legislate that every local authority and planning board MUST include a requirement to deliver the infrastructure needed for EV charging points in ALL new builds (domestic and commercial) and major refurbishment projects. This will make it far more cost effective for any occupant to then access EV charging.

 

  1. Standardise protocols. I’m sure some will say this is already the case, while others will recognise that many charging point providers have their own software and data collection networks. Certainly, I regularly see examples where problems getting one organisation’s software talking to another’s hardware stops or delays investment.

 

  1. A data collection company using Blockchain technology. We need to use the Smart metering model of centralising all data collected from charging posts using something like Blockchain technology. This will enable EV owners to access the data they need, to buy their energy from the supplier they want, at the price they want and use any charging post they can plug into.

 

  1. Take a holistic approach. Education and planning must start today to ensure we legislate for the changes needed to get the necessary infrastructure, energy generation and storage in place and all the systems and software talking to each other. This is not complicated and we have already learnt so many lessons in the past from doing similar things (Smart metering being a perfect example) – so we should be able to get this right first time.

 

All of us in the EV charging world – alongside car manufacturers, energy suppliers, energy generators, grid and distribution companies – need to work together create a clear roadmap for the EV charging industry in the UK going forward.

 

This is key to creating a successful EV world for the future.

 

For more information about how our EV team can help your organisation, get in touch via Geoff.Blythe@npower.com