In a wide-ranging document on the decarbonization of the UK, presented by Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of the COP26 climate conference, the Government has promised £620 million as part of a package to improve local on-street residential charge points.
Called Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener, the report restated the Government’s plans to end the sale of new petrol and diesel engines by 2030, and to move to zero emission cars and vans by 2035.
As part of the countdown to 2035, the Government said it would have a Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate in place by 2024 that sets targets for a percentage of manufacturers' new car and van sales to be zero emission each year.
Ahead of that, the Government promised targeted electric vehicle grants and infrastructure, particularly local on-street residential charge points.
David Wright, chief engineer at National Grid welcomed the strategy, saying the focus needs to be on implementation and investment in infrastructure and technologies.
“We’re at a critical stage in the journey where net zero is possible with the technologies and opportunities we have today and, in order to deliver on this, we have to accelerate and ramp up efforts to deploy long-term solutions at scale.”
On-street Charging Key to Full Fleet EV Takeup
Unlocking local on-street charging is seen by the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) as the “last stumbling block” to fleet adoption of electric vehicles.
To tackle the issue the AFP has formed a kerbside charging group. AFP chair Paul Hollick explained, “Adequate kerbside charging is vital to the corporate fleet sector being able to achieve its 2030 electrification objectives, but many are hitting significant problems with those employees that do not have a home charging solution. This is especially the case for people who live in terraced streets or apartments.
“Effective kerbside charging designs are now available from a variety of providers but they are currently fitted in very few places. They really need to be widely available on every street where EV drivers live.
“The Government has a program in place where funds are made available for chargers to be installed but it depends on local authorities, many of which are starved of finances, also making a contribution. In our opinion, it is inadequate for the task at hand.
“The new group is designed to push forward progress in a very practical manner. We’ll be working with fleets, charging providers and local authorities to ensure that charging is available in the places where it is needed. We’ll be meeting every month and every month we want to be able to show that we are moving forward.”
Hollick said that van fleets in particular were currently “muddling through” with a mixture of depot-based charging and use of high speed public facilities, but both brought “sizeable operational compromises."
Hollick added that he welcomed the news of the new £620m in funding included in the Government’s net zero strategy.
“It should hopefully go some distance towards solving the kerbside charging problem, although we have yet to hear full details about how the cash will be distributed, which is a factor that could prove key to its success.”
At the end of the financial year, the Government’s current Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) - which provides grants for home chargers - will relaunch with funding prioritising a different set of applicants.
The EVHS will assist those EV drivers living in rented or leasehold properties, as well as be open to those living in flats. The changes move away from the current regulations that require access to off-street parking, and typically involve homeowners.
Currently, the grant provides up to £350 or 75% or the costs towards a fully-installed EV charge point, with the person applying for the grant requiring proof of an EV either on order, on lease or owned.
At the moment, the Government has not given any indication of when the new money will be unlocked to help kick-start on-street charging infrastructure.