The UK’s energy regulator Ofgem is investing £300 million to kick start investment in the cabling, substations and other infrastructure needed to support the country’s EV charging sector.
The investment will support installation of 1,800 ultra-rapid charge points at motorway service areas and key trunk road locations, tripling the current network. A further 1,750 charge points will be supported in towns and cities.
The investment will be delivered in the next two years and is part of a much bigger plan to provide the energy infrastructure needed to support the move to low carbon transport and heating, an investment expected to be in the order of over £40 billion through Ofgem’s regulation of energy networks.
According to Ofgem, every region in Britain will benefit from the announcement, with 204 net zero projects worth £300 million across England, Scotland and Wales, expected to start this year, supporting clean transport and heat, and opening up local electricity grids to take on more low carbon generation.
While electric car ownership is on the rise, Ofgem research has found that 36% of households that do not intend to get an electric vehicle are put off making the switch over a lack of charging points near their home. An extensive motorway charging network and more charging points in cities and train stations will help address concerns over range anxiety, so Ofgem is accelerating investment to boost charge point installation.
Cities like Glasgow, Kirkwall, Warrington, Llandudno, York and Truro will benefit from increased network capacity to support more ultra-rapid charge points, increased renewable electricity generation and the move to more electric heating for homes and businesses. Investment also covers more rural areas with charging points for commuters at train stations in North and Mid Wales and the electrification of the Windermere ferry.
Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem said, “This £300 million down payment is just the start of building back a greener energy network which will see well over £40 billion of investment in Britain’s energy networks in the next seven years.
“The payment will support the rapid take up of electric vehicles which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets. Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to.
Rachel Maclean, Transport Minister said, “With more than 500,000 electric cars now on UK roads, this will help to increase this number even further as drivers continue to make the switch to cleaner, greener vehicles.”
David Smith, chief executive at Energy Networks Association, which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses said, “Over £300m of electricity distribution network investment will enable wide-ranging projects that help tackle some of our biggest net zero challenges, like electric vehicle range anxiety and the decarbonisation of heavier transport.
“This new funding shows the social, economic and environmental benefits that can be brought forward by industry working closely with a flexible regulator.”
Keith Bell, Member of the Climate Change Committee, said, “It will be an essential complement to a smarter power system where innovative information technology and attractive energy tariffs for consumers will ensure we make best use of our electricity system infrastructure.”
Ofgem, the Energy Networks Association and each of the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) launched a call for evidence in February for energy networks to come forward with projects that could help Britain reach net zero emissions faster and support the economy as the country comes out of the pandemic.
Last year, Ofgem announced its greenest ever price control with billions invested into network companies and the system operator from April this year. The regulator has also indicated that it will allow billions more investment and better use of flexible technologies and innovations for the local electricity networks from 2023.