THE Transport Minister Rachel Maclean has confirmed in an interview that the Government is planning to use legislation to ensure public electric vehicle (EV) charging points at motorway services are reliable and maintained as part of a major drive to upgrade the charging infrastructure.
The Government is also going to end the current monopoly where one company has the contract to provide charging provision along the motorway network and open the market up to private sector investment.
In an exclusive interview with Electrifying.com, the Maclean said new chargers would arrive before 2023, with at least six at each service area on motorways and legal powers used to ensure they were reliable and accessible.
“We do believe it will take government investment to ‘charge up’ this market. So we’ve got nearly £1 billion to upgrade those connections at motorway service stations. What we are going to have is at least six high power chargers in every motorway service area by 2023.”
She clarified that the chargers would be 150kW or above “to allow you to charge your car in the time it takes you to get a cup of coffee.” They would have to be available to anyone with a contactless payment card and would be in addition to Tesla units which are already installed at most service stations. Larger sites will have up to 12 new points providing speeds of up to 350kW.
Service level agreements would ensure that the points were working for at least 99% of the time, drivers would have access to 24/7 customer care and there will be clear pricing information available. If these standards are not met the government would use legislation to enforce them, she said.
The expansion would not stop at these charge points, explained the Minister, paving the way for the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars: “By 2030… we are going to have around 6,000 of these rapid charging points across A-roads and motorway service stations.”
A decade has passed since the first significant roll-out of public charging infrastructure under the Plugged in Places scheme. Many of these early charge points were not installed with long-term sustainability in mind, and much of the UK’s legacy network has suffered from under-investment. As a result, EV drivers are faced with charge points that are no longer usable.
It’s not just the rapid charging network which will see investment, said Maclean. “We have doubled the funding available to local councils to improve charging infrastructure. What I would say to anyone listening to this who thinks ‘I haven’t got one near my house’ is to get in touch with your local council. We in central government have made this money available but some of it is not being spent, which is a real shame.”
The Minister also urged electric car drivers to help shape the future policy by contributing to the public consultation into the consumer experience at public charge points. See: Government Consults To Standardise Charging Infrastructure Across UK.
New Partnership Aims To Turbocharge Electric Highway
Ecotricity and GRIDSERVE have announced a new collaboration to turbocharge development of the Electric Highway – Europe’s first nationwide charging network, which will transform electric vehicle charging facilities on Britain’s motorways and major roads.
The transformation work has two elements – already underway. Firstly, all existing chargers will be replaced with new technology, doubling the capacity – offering all three connection types (CCS, CHAdeMO, and AC) and contactless payment. Secondly – a further 6 to 12 pumps of the all-new 350kW high power standard will be installed. Funding for the program is being provided by Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC, also a shareholder in GRIDSERVE.
Dale Vince, Founder, Ecotricity, said working with GRIDSPACE to make sure the Electric Highway continues to lead the electric car revolution in Britain is an exciting prospect.
“The Electric Highway kickstarted Britain’s electric car revolution – one decade ago this summer, and together with GRIDSERVE we have big plans for the second decade – and the end of fossil powered cars.”
Toddington Harper, CEO, GRIDSERVE, said it was a huge privilege to take a role alongside Ecotricity in the next evolution of the Electric Highway.
“GRIDSERVE’s purpose is to deliver sustainable energy and move the needle on climate change, and the upgraded network will provide the confidence people need to immediately make the transition to a net zero, electric vehicle future. The new network will feature all of GRIDSERVE’s world-leading technology to ensure that electric vehicle charging is straightforward, anxiety free, and delivers an awesome customer experience”.
BP Pulse Commits £2m to upgrade legacy chargers
Meanwhile, the largest electric vehicle charging network operator in the UK, bp pulse (formerly Chargemaster), has committed £2 million of funding to deliver radical improvement in reliability of older UK charging infrastructure.
The company has already agreed over £400,000 in infrastructure investment to replace more than 50 legacy charge points, which are typically owned by local authorities and were originally installed with government grant funding. Further discussions are already underway relating to an additional £750,000 of funding available for legacy charge point owners, which could see over 300 units upgraded.
In total, bp pulse has made £2 million available and will work closely with local authorities and other charge point owners over the coming months to replace older infrastructure as quickly as possible.
Matteo de Renzi, CEO of bp pulse, said, “While we remain focused on expanding our network, in particular with the proliferation of convenient ultra-fast charging, we know that many of the issues experienced by drivers come from legacy charging infrastructure, so our investment in upgrading it will significantly improve the experience of EV drivers across the country.”