There are big changes taking place in car manufacturing. With plans to outlaw petrol and diesel vehicles over the next couple of decades, everyone from BMW to Ford are looking to develop electric vehicles. The biggest challenge for the UK and other countries, however, is not the car itself but how these will be charged.
A recent report, suggest we can expect almost 60% of new car and van sales to be for EVs by 2030 and we’ll need at least 25,000 more charging points to cope according to the statistics. That requires a significant investment in infrastructure – costing some £530 million – and will need input from both public and private funds. According to the General Manager of ZipCar, Jonathon Hampson:
“UK’s EV infrastructure has a long way to go before it can support a viable EV fleet, and this report provides for the first time a look at the size of the opportunity and the challenge that the UK faces.”
What is EV Charging?
Ever since electric cars were developed, the challenge of charging their batteries has been high on the list of priorities. In many countries, including America, a good deal of investment has gone into providing stations, particularly in states such as California. Just like petrol, drivers need to be able to stop off and plug in their cars wherever they are in the UK.
Unfortunately, EV charging is not the same as opening your traditional petrol tank and filling up. It takes time to recharge any battery, as we all know. There are three different types of charger that are currently available:
- Rapid Chargers: AC or DC chargers operate between 43 and 50 kWs and are designed to charge your car to about 80% capacity in around half an hour.
- Fast Chargers: These operate between 7 and 22 kWs and can fully charge your car in three or four hours.
- Slow Chargers: These are normally found at home locations and are suitable for overnight charging – it generally takes between six and twelve hours.
You have several options when it comes to charging your electric vehicle. You can use public charge points that are run by companies and which are considered the electrical equivalent of the petrol station. These include businesses like Ecotricity and PodPoint and they cover set regions as well as operating over the whole of the UK. Another, increasingly popular, option is to charge your car at work or a public area like a shopping precinct where points are installed. The government is trying to encourage more businesses to install charging equipment like this to vastly improve coverage. Finally, the other place you can charge is while parked outside your own home.
To get the coverage that is required to service an large increase in electric vehicles over the next decade or so, more points are going to needed in places like local businesses.
EV Charging Grants
One way that the Government is hoping to get businesses and homeowners to install EV chargers is by offering grants. An OLEV grant of £500 can be used by homeowners who have off-street parking and install an approved charging unit. In addition, the Government is offering grants to businesses for each charging point that they install on their premises.
According to ZapMap, we still only have just under 15,000 connectors in the UK at the moment across 5,211 locations, which is about a 4,000 increase on this time last year. Around 20% of these are found in Greater London, however, and areas like Wales still have less than 500 stations ready to connect. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to reach the 25,000 needed by the end of the next decade and to give good coverage over the whole of the UK.
Find out more about EV vehicles and charge points here.