UK electric vehicle charging infrastructure investment increased

Out-Law News | 28 Mar 2022 | 1:22 pm | 2 min. read

The UK government is to increase its investment of public funds supporting the development of new electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The move, announced in the government’s new electric vehicle infrastructure strategy, includes establishing a new fund to help local authorities in the UK improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure in their area.

The Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund will provide a total of £450 million of public funds “to facilitate the rollout of larger-scale chargepoint infrastructure projects”, the government said. It has committed £10m to piloting the scheme this spring to “test how we can most effectively support local authorities procuring chargepoint deployment by trialling different delivery mechanisms, business models and technologies”.

Feehan Peter

Peter Feehan

Partner

The key now is to get this funding working and deployed; establishing grid infrastructure takes time

Peter Feehan of Pinsent Masons, who specialises in projects concerning the electrification of mobility, said: “It is immensely encouraging to see the government increasing investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and recognising also the importance of ensuring that local economies do not get left behind. The introduction of the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) will supplement the existing Rapid Charging Fund. The key now is to get this funding working and deployed; establishing grid infrastructure takes time so to stay on the UK roadmap to 2030, it’s vital that we get this moving if charging anxiety for electric vehicle owners is to be avoided.”

Currently, there are around 29,600 public chargepoints for charging electric vehicles in the UK. Just over 5,400 of those chargepoints facilitate ‘rapid’ charge, which takes around 30 minutes. By 2030, the UK government expects the number of public chargepoints to grow to around 300,000 public chargepoints as a minimum.

The government said it will use its £950m Rapid Charging Fund to increase the number of “high powered chargers” available on the UK’s “strategic road network” to over 6,000 by 2035. Those chargers could support re-charging of electric vehicles within 15 minutes. An initial objective of the government’s is to ensure every motorway service station has at least six rapid chargers by the end of 2023.

Local authorities will be expected to “to develop and implement local charging strategies to plan for the transition to a zero emission vehicle fleet” and those strategies “should identify how to provide affordable, convenient charging for residents, businesses including fleets, and visitors without causing pavement disruptions that could discourage walking and cycling”, the government said. The LEVI Fund is to help support local authorities deliver new on-street chargepoints.

Sonal Shah

Sonal Shah

Partner

The government commitments should help in building confidence in users to make the switch to electric vehicles as well as in stimulating additional private sector investment

The government said it would look to address barriers to private investment in new electric vehicle charging infrastructure and that it will also “regulate to ensure chargepoints are reliable and easy to use”. Measures will include new signposting to help drivers find nearby chargepoints and specific requirements on open data, price transparency, payment methods and reliability, it said.

The government vowed to help businesses limit the cost of connecting chargepoints to the electricity grid in Britain and said that it would encourage new business models in the market.

It said: “There is huge scope for chargepoint operators to gain by selling services to the grid, for the grid to gain by increasing flexibility, and for consumers to ultimately benefit through cheaper, and potentially even negative, tariffs if they agree to cede some control over charging or even share some of their vehicle’s battery capacity. We will continue to facilitate this innovation and encourage new business models to deliver the charging we need. This could be through local community charging companies, longer-term on-street concessions, remote charging, cable guttering, lamppost chargers or peer-to-peer charging services.”

Sonal Shah of Pinsent Masons, a projects expert who specialises in transport infrastructure, said the government’s new strategy is an important step in enabling the UK to deliver on part of the government’s transport decarbonisation strategy. 

Shah said: “The government commitments should help in building confidence in users to make the switch to electric vehicles as well as in stimulating additional private sector investment. It is great to see this initiative at a key moment – the charging infrastructure is needed before the public can transition to electric vehicles in significant numbers – and this should foster greater collaboration between all stakeholders including the public and private sector, car manufacturers, chargepoint operators and infrastructure providers.”