Electric vehicle charging



Oct. 3 2022

The roll-out of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure is central to the UK meeting its zero-emissions target in 2050 and keep Britain moving as the country transitions to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.

The world is facing a climate crisis and the roll-out of electric vehicles is one way countries can significantly curb their climate emissions. Internal combustion engine (ICE)  vehicles have dominated the market for more than a century, but over the past couple of years, there has been a notable shift as people and businesses seek more eco-friendly and cost-effective ways of keeping on the move. Indeed, electric vehicles are up to three times as energy efficient as IC-powered cars, making them the sustainable choice for a greener future.

Advances in EV battery technology mean that electric vehicles are now a realistic and sustainable alternative. There were 540,000 Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and 790,000 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) on the UK’s roads in September 2022. New EV registrations were 76.3% higher in 2021 than 2020 and with ongoing technological advances, it is anticipated that electric vehicles will become cost-competitive with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the coming years.

However, multiple challenges still exist to encourage more people to shift to electric vehicles. One of the significant challenges to overcome is range anxiety - concern from users that their vehicle will run out of power on long trips – and central to addressing this concern is the implementation of an electric charging infrastructure that effectively meets electric vehicle users’ needs.

Indeed, if the UK is to be successful in its transition to electric vehicles, it must be as easy to charge an electric car as it is currently to fill up with petrol or diesel.

Read on to find out more about current guidance for the implementation of electric charging infrastructure and the challenges that need to be overcome.

What are some of the current challenges to the nationwide adoption of electric vehicles?

Although the UK has seen strong progress, there are still multiple challenges to overcome to develop a robust electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The current charge point installation is not at the pace required to meet the UK’s zero-emission target, although it continues to grow. Indeed, a study by the Transport & Environment bulletin shows that today’s charging infrastructure will need to increase by more than 15 times over in the next 10 years to meet carbon reduction targets.

Planning arrangements can be complex for installing on-street charging stations, vital for those without driveways. Additionally, electric vehicle drivers are often let down with high and opaque charging costs, poor customer service, complex apps and smartcards, and no standardisation across charging stations. Connecting new charge points to the electricity system can also be slow and expensive.

The key to mass adoption of electric vehicles in the UK - and worldwide – is a comprehensive, smart, and flexible charging infrastructure, alongside consumer incentives and awareness campaigns.

What are the different types of electric vehicle charging infrastructure?

The guidance for implementation of an electric charging infrastructure takes a multi-pronged approach. There are several different infrastructures and technologies to charging an electric vehicle and a joined-up approach is required to minimise anxiety range and provide ease of use.

The most widely used are plug-in charging stations, which can be broken down into two main categories; Mode 3 AC (alternating current) and Mode 4 DC (direct current). AC charging points typically require two to eight hours to charge a standard EV battery, while DC charging points require only 20 to 30 minutes to fully charge a standard EV battery.

Creating a robust EV infrastructure includes charging points at homes, in the local community, and at strategic points along primary arterial routes, including motorways, and in cities and towns.

What is the guidance for planning and designing an electric vehicle charging infrastructure?

In-depth planning and designing of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure will be key to the smooth transition to electric cars. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority has laid out four key principles to ensure that using and paying for charging is as simple as filing with fuel.

This includes:

  • Working charging points must be easy to find and accessible to everyone, wherever they live
  • Charging must be simple and quick – just like it is currently to fill up with petrol or diesel
  • The cost of charging an electric vehicle must be clear and fairly priced, with a standardised way of pricing, such as per kilowatt of energy
  • Finally, charging must be accessible, with charge points able to be used by any type of electric vehicle.

There is no question that central to the implementation of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure is to ensure that it is cheaper and more convenient than refuelling at a petrol station.

How is the implementation of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure being encouraged?

The UK government is encouraging the implementation of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure through various methods. These include regulation, incentives, financing, research and development, capacity building, and knowledge sharing. 

This includes defining minimum standards for future charging stations, promoting real-time data access regarding charging location, their usage and availability, funding charging infrastructure until business models become profitable, promoting the installation of charging infrastructure in public spaces, and implementing research policy measures.

What are the plans for maintaining and managing the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure?

The UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure will need robust maintenance and management if it is to remain fit for purpose. Like any fixed electrical installation, Duty Holders are required under the Electricity at Work Regulation 1989 to ensure the EV charging points once in service. This includes the ongoing maintenance and management to prevent, as far as is reasonably practicable, any danger to employees, visitors or other persons.

What are the funding options for the electric vehicle charging infrastructure?

The government has announced wide-scale funding options as part of its guidance for the implementation of an electric charging infrastructure.

This includes a £950 million Rapid Charging Fund, which will ensure that there are EV charging stations along motorways and major A-roads, EV charging grants for homes, helping to cover some of the costs towards individuals purchasing and installing charge points, as well as grants to local authorities to help cover the costs of installing EV charge points in residential apartment block parking spaces. The Workplace Charging Scheme will help local authorities to lead by example by electrifying their own fleet. The Local EV Infrastructure Fund also provides £450 million to local authorities to leverage private sector investment to develop a long-term, sustainable charging infrastructure. The UK government hopes to have 2,500 rapid charge points by 2030 and 6,000 by 2035.