Why the UK needs 700 new electric vehicle charge points a day

Why the UK needs 700 new electric vehicle charge points a day

Setting stiff climate change targets is one thing. Actually making it happen is an entirely different matter.

Right now the UK is reeling from the news that the nation will need to create a whopping 700 new electric vehicle charging points every single day for the rest of this decade if it wants to meet its climate change goals. If this doesn’t happen, the failure will represent a ‘major blocker’ to the country’s target to abolish the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. So what’s the story?

We need to change the nation’s infrastructure profoundly… and fast

The transition from the internal combustion engine to all-electric was never going to be easy, requiring a profound change to the UK’s infrastructure, but the news highlights the sheer size of the task we face in the battle to keep climate change to a minimum. In the longer term, not achieving the goal for EV charging points means we’re highly unlikely to hit the government’s wider, equally ambitious 2050 climate goals.

The rate of change so far has been lamentable, especially as far as government-led initiatives are concerned. Take the North East of England, for example, where March 2021 saw plans approved for just seven new charging points across the region thanks to a grant labelled a ‘starting point’ for EV charging. This is clearly not good enough. In fact it’s shameful.

The goal? A dramatic twenty-fold increase in EV chargers

Various motoring groups are saying the public network, not including private chargers fitted in people’s homes, needs to increase twenty-fold to have a hope of coping with the sharp increase in demand for greener transport we’re already seeing. In early 2021 the UK’s Conservative government said they’d bring forward plans to ban new petrol and diesel cars to 2030. On the face of it this was excellent news but so far it’s just words, not actions, and time is fast running out.

Will the government’s climate proposal, which has been described as ‘incredibly ambitious’ by many, actually come to fruition? So far they’ve agreed to pump a mere £1.3 billion worth of investment into increasing the nation’s network of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and motorways.

What does the Department of Transport say?

The Department for Transport figures says there were 19,487 public charging devices available at the end of September 2020, up 7% on the end of July 2020. Over 1200 public EV chargers were installed in the UK between July and September last year, and it’s a start. But it’s nowhere near the 700 a day we need.

According to ZapMap’s stats, (link to https://www.zap-map.com/statistics/), on 16th April the total number of locations with a public EV charging point installed was 14904, with just over 23,300 devices providing 40154 connectors. A total of 779 new devices were added to the Zap-Map database over the last 30 days, resulting in 1186 new connectors. This is clearly insufficient.

Is there any good news?

Luckily there’s some good news. November 2020, for example, saw Britain’s first forecourt designed exclusively for electric vehicles. Located in Braintree, Essex, it is apparently the first of a £1 billion UK network of 100 all-electric forecourts planned, to be built over the next five years. But there’s less than 8 years to go until we hit 2030 and that means this five year plan, which looks good on the face of it, leaves a lot to be desired. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – SMMT – predicts we’ll need around 2.3m UK EV charge points by the end of the decade.

What’s happening right now?

The SSMT says just 42 charging points are being installed daily at the moment, which means we’re already falling horribly short of the target. Right now, in London, there are just seven thousand EV charging points to cover the capital’s population of around 9.5m people. That’s one EV charging point for every 1300 people. It’s worse up north, as we’ve already highlighted. The north-south divide is as wide as ever, with a mere 2000 charge points currently on tap for a population of five and a half million.

If the government wants to achieve its plans, it’ll mean putting its money where its mouth is, and fast. They must place ordinary drivers at the heart of EV policy and planning. They’ll need to create incentives and build robust infrastructure. At the same time the government has just slashed its subsidy scheme for electric cars from £3,000 to £2,500, a step in completely the wrong direction.

The government is playing a game of snakes and ladders

If this article comes across as angry, that’s because we are angry. And we’re not alone. As Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the SSMT says, the government’s policy on electric vehicles at the moment resembles a game of “snakes and ladders”.

The Labour Party is fighting back. Ed Miliband has just laid out the party’s policy on electric cars, including promises to give low and mid-income houses interest free loans to fund buying an electric vehicle. But they’re not in government, and the promises being made don’t mean a lot when you don’t have the power to make them come true.

The Tesco, VW and Pod Point partnership  

It’s good to know that the UK’s biggest free electric car charging network is being installed at 600 Tesco stores at the moment, providing at least 10 million miles of CO2 friendly motoring thanks to a deal struck between the supermarket giant itself, Volkswagen and Pod Point. As a business, Tesco is planning to become 100% carbon neutral by 2035, and the partnership is part of the plan. The partnership has already fitted half a million chargers and it’s on a roll. Maybe the government needs to take a leaf out of their book.

In the meantime Transport Secretary and keen EV owner Grant Shapps says it’s “great” to see one of Britain’s most iconic brands leading the way with electric vehicle chargepoints. Sadly the government’s £2.5 billion in financial support designed to ‘encourage their take-up’ doesn’t compare well with the work being done by businesses.

Fantastic EV charge point solutions via Energy Renewables  

We don’t think this enormous change can wait. We need to get cracking now in the face of inconsistent government actions and the urgent need to slow climate change as quickly as we can. You won’t believe the brilliant EV charge point deals we’re offering. Give us a call if you’d like to talk EV charge points with experts who know their stuff, people who are totally dedicated to fighting climate change.