Government needs to back EV charging infrastructure, says new report

The UK Government should work with local councils and private companies to deliver a national EV charging network for drivers, according to the first National Infrastructure Assessment.

Published by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), the independent body advises the government to prepare for the country's infrastructure requirements. The pathway laid out would see the UK well set up to deal with changing needs in the near to mid-term future.

Part of the wide reaching assessment - which provides recommendations on a range of industries, including fibre broadband, plastic packaging, energy and water supply, and transport infrastructure - the NIC has urged the government to back electric vehicles.

The NIC's assessment says that authorities should prepare for 100% electric vehicle sales by 2030 - ahead of the government's new petrol and diesel car ban in 2040.

Under the heading 'Revolutionising road transport', the report states: "By 2050, road transport will be unrecognisable from today. Cars and vans will be electric, and increasingly autonomous. Electric, connected and autonomous vehicles will change the nature of the transport debate in the UK.

"Electric vehicles are easier to drive, quieter and less polluting than conventional cars and will soon have the same range and be cheaper to buy and maintain. Once this happens, their take up could increase rapidly. Given their benefits for the environment, this is something government should encourage.

"A key way to do this is by ensuring that charging an electric vehicle is as easy as refilling a conventional vehicle, or even easier. The government needs to provide the right environment to support and encourage the switch to electric vehicles. To catalyse this, consumers need to feel confident that they can charge their electric vehicles en route across the country.

"A core network of fast or rapid chargers should be installed in visible locations across the UK. Government should subsidise charger installation where the private sector will not build them, starting in the locations least likely to be delivered commercially.

"However, the majority should be built by the private sector. Government should enable commercial investors to build charge points throughout the country, including by requiring local authorities to free up 5 per cent of their parking spaces for electric vehicle charge points by 2020, and 25 per cent by 2025."

Smart charging is covered too, to reduce the inevitable extra load set to be placed on the National Grid by the increased amount of electricity required to charge a large number of EVs. The vehicles represent an opportunity to solve the problem they could create though, with Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) charging able to balance out energy demand.

The National Infrastructure Assessment states that, despite fast and rapid charging being a key part of EV ownership to enable long-distance travel, most charging should be 'slow and smart'.

Tax implications have been considered by the NIC, since HM Treasury gains a fair proportion of its income from fuel duty. As such, recommendations to change the way road users pay to use them are 'inevitable'. This would see a shift from a taxation on fuel to road usage.

The assessment also covers connected and autonomous vehicles, with recommendations for government departments to start planning now, considering major road infrastructure projects can last for decades.

The publication is the first of the NIC's five-yearly assessments. Although the commission - made up of impartial experts - provides advice the UK government, ministers are not obliged to follow its recommendations.

You can read the National Infrastructure Assessment in full here.

Find out more about electric cars here

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:10th Jul 2018

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