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18 March 2019

UK council ‘budget cuts’ halt development of EV charging

First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com

More than 100 UK local authorities say they have no plans to increase their number of electric vehicle (EV) charging points.

These findings have been revealed from freedom of information (FoI) requests submitted by the Liberal Democrats and shared with The Guardian newspaper.

According to the report, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat former energy and climate change secretary, says the lack of investment in charging points is due to “cuts to council budgets”.

“Unless there is urgent action to tackle our out-of-control transport emissions, our environment and the health of future generations will suffer,” he continues. “These cuts must be reversed.”

Davey has sent a letter to business secretary Greg Clark in the hope of establishing a summit to get local authorities and the Department for Transport (DfT) to work together in supplying a broader network of charge points.

Other findings from the 301 councils responding to the FoI requests showed that 122 UK councils have a plan in place to increase the number of charge points while 62 are planning on taking steps to increase the number without a formal
plan. Additionally, eight councils insist that they had no appropriate locations for installing new charge points - while 60 councils failed to respond.

A spokesperson for the DfT says: “Our vision is to have one of the best infrastructure networks in the world for EVs, and we want charging points to be accessible, affordable and secure. Our Road to Zero strategy sets out our commitment
to massively expand EV infrastructure, while the £400m public-private charging infrastructure investment fund will see thousands more charging points installed across the UK.”

In response to the report, Louis Shaffer, EMEA distributed energy management segment manager at power management company Eaton, says the UK needs more charging stations to have more EVs on the road.

“However, this creates another issue: if everyone switched to electric vehicles tomorrow and wanted to charge their cars during peak times, the UK’s current grid infrastructure would struggle and may fail to cope with the sudden increase
in demand,” Shaffer adds.

He believes that planning for a national network of charging facilities is necessary to handle the increase in energy demand: “Besides commercial and industrial ‘smart’ charging, technology such as energy storage and demand response will
need to work alongside the growth of solar, wind and other green power sources to ensure the UK’s shift to an affordable, flexible, renewables-led power system.”

Shaffer claims that the UK can optimise energy storage and smart charging to accelerate the move to a ‘renewables-led’ power system which can support the increased use of EVs.

However, he emphasises that this will only happen if energy markets are designed and regulated in a way that “unlocks the full value of flexibility for the electric system”.

“To support current infrastructure, the government and industry will need to start investing in the technologies, services and modifications that can enable our energy system to cope with the dramatic shift in how we generate and use
electricity,” Shaffer concludes.

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