Local authorities have a critical role to play in ensuring the UK’s electric vehicle charging network works for their residents – with accessible, affordable on-street charging available for the estimated eight million households who can’t install a home-charger.
That was one of the key findings of last week’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) report into the state of the UK’s EV charging network.
But for many local authorities, rolling out a charging infrastructure is a complex step into the unknown.
Here are three key pieces of advice I can offer from my work to deliver Greater Manchester’s city-region-wide charging network on behalf of Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).
1. Think bigger
Many public sector organisations think about rolling out EV infrastructure one charger at a time, but it’s important to think about the bigger picture.
Rather than looking at EV infrastructure in a piecemeal manner, look at how you can deliver larger numbers and grow your network as a whole. Delivering sites one at a time can be a very expensive way of adding to your network, whereas adding multiple sites can deliver economies of scale and greater value.
It’s also important to plan for future demand. EV sales will increase hugely over the next decade as the 2030 deadline comes closer, and the CMA report estimates eight million UK households will not be able to install a home charger because they live in a flat or house without a driveway. On-street chargepoints will not only be important for convenience, it will save people money, too (public chargers are estimated to be around 60% cheaper than commercial rapid chargers).
So think ahead and build now for the future.
2. Find the right partner to support you
Planning and implementing an EV chargepoint network is something that both the public and private sectors are tackling, but faster progress will be made if they tackle it together.
While the Government's On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme can be used to fund up to 75% of the capital costs of procuring and installing on-street EV charge-points, real growth will come from the public sector working with the private sector to roll out their infrastructure at scale.
Finding the right commercial partner to support you will help you to scale up more quickly and cost-effectively. It can also be a route to securing additional investment to make your desired on-street charging network a reality.
3. Think about the user
Getting the infrastructure in the ground is just the start, but there’s a lot more to it than just putting the right type of charger in locations where they will be used. You also need to think ahead:
• Do the public actually understand why these charge-points are being provided?
• Will the chargers still be working in a year's time?
• Do you have the data to show how people are using them?
• Do you know where the hot-spots for demand are?
Data analytics are a vital tool to optimise infrastructure and how it is used – giving you a detailed picture of how your network meets user requirements now, and more importantly, the insight to select the right sites for future development.
The view from Greater Manchester
As part of its Five Year Transport Delivery Plan, TfGM is committed to delivering sustainable, decarbonised transport across the whole of the city-region. A central part of that is recognising the need to increase the uptake of electric vehicles – with more on-street chargepoints a key factor.
Myself and my team are working alongside the 10 Greater Manchester authorities to deliver the public EV charging that their residents need – in a new, highly flexible way, but under a single, simple banner for EV users in the region.
We have already delivered or upgraded 130 chargepoints across Greater Manchester and plan to double that by the end of 2021, with further expansion planned for 2022 and beyond.
It’s an exciting prospect, and an important step towards the NetZero goal.
Asif Ghafoor is the CEO of Be.EV, the chosen public charging provider for Greater Manchester.