New home electric vehicle charging proposals tabled

Out-Law News | 17 Jul 2019 | 2:57 pm | 2 min. read

Plans to tie the installation of electric vehicle chargepoints to the building of new homes in England are being consulted on by the UK government.

Under the proposals, which would see a new section added to building regulations in England, residential properties being built or undergoing major renovations would be required to be fitted with facilities for charging electric vehicles where they have an associated car parking space.

Non-residential properties, such as commercial offices, would be subject to similar obligations on the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure if the government's plans become law in their current form. This includes in relation to existing properties with more than 20 car parking spaces which would need to be fitted with at least one chargepoint from 2025.

"The proposals aim to support and encourage the growing uptake of electric vehicles within the UK by ensuring that all new homes with a dedicated car parking space are built with an electric chargepoint, making charging easier, cheaper and more convenient for drivers," the government said.

The government has estimated that the cost of installing chargepoints in new homes would on average be approximately £976 per car parking space. This compares to a cost of more than £2,000 for retrofitting a chargepoint once properties have been built, it said.

To "mitigate any potential negative impact on housing supply", the government has proposed applying an exemption to the chargepoint installation requirements in cases where the cost would exceed £3,600.

Other new regulations proposed by the government promotes 'smart charging' involving electric vehicles. The government is seeking to use powers conferred on it under the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act to "mandate that new non-public chargepoints will be required to have smart functionality". Those chargepoints will also have to meet requirements on cybersecurity and interoperability.

The government's smart charging consultation paper explained that 'smart functionality' would mean electric vehicle chargepoints would have to be capable of "shifting the time of day when an EV charges, or modulating the rate of charge at different times, in response to signals (e.g. electricity tariff information)".

"A key feature of a smarter energy system is the ability to minimise peak demand and network congestion, allowing the use of cheaper, low carbon generation to be maximised," the government said.

"The current electricity system has been designed to meet a peak in demand between 17:00 and 20:30. For the rest of the day there can be large amounts of underused generation and network capacity. Generation during these off-peak periods is usually cleaner and cheaper. EVs can support the transition to a smarter energy system by, for example, charging overnight (during the off-peak) reducing the need for investment in infrastructure, but also provide power back to the grid. This makes it cheaper for people to charge and integrates EVs into the electricity system in an affordable way," it said.

Plans to bolster electric vehicle charging infrastructure were at the heart of the UK government's 'road to zero' strategy published last summer.

That strategy is designed to support the UK's previously stated goal of ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040 and delivering zero emission vehicles.

When the road to zero strategy was published, Peter Feehan of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, who specialises in innovative commercial energy contracts, said: "Our experience from Europe is that a significant amount of charging occurs at home, so clearly this is an important factor, but infrastructure is also needed in the built environment in order to really allow people to make the change to electric vehicles."

"The government must also consider how it will be able to keep up with the pace of technology advances and whilst wireless technologies are favourable, we need to have an effective UK charging network which supports the transition and reduces concerns surrounding range anxiety of electric vehicles," he said.

"One area we are interested in following is the development of cost effective bi-lateral charging points which would allow homes to essentially opt to be 'off-grid' using the electric vehicles to power an owners’ home. This potentially could see real changes in the marketplace, transforming the automotive sector and energy sector too," Feehan said.