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Motoring ahead with the electric vehicle revolution

By Paul Stones

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is happening and the revenue streams and technologies available are driving the emergence of different business models and opportunities for EV charging infrastructure.

By 2040, all vehicles sold in the UK must have zero carbon emissions. Although only 3-4% of all vehicles are now plug in, the demand for EVs is clearly rising. In 2011, only 1,000 EVs were sold in the UK. By 2018, this had increased to 485,000 and now constitutes 5% of all new car sales.

The EV revolution also presents new opportunities. Potential revenues include direct sale and installation fees, and user charging fees. Free charging may be offered in support of the supplier’s sustainability agenda or to attract footfall and increase dwell time. Charging facilities offer potential in locations such as shopping centres or car parks, and motorway service and petrol stations.

The UK government has identified three main problems in providing EV charging infrastructure: the network is currently at a low density, at only around 15,000 charge points in the UK in contrast to one million EVs predicted to be on the road by 2023; EV charging at peak times could put an unsustainable strain on electricity networks and generation capacity; and without standardization, the market will become fragmented in its development.

Without government intervention it is unlikely that the UK government’s target for transitioning to EVs will be achieved. As a result, the government has proposed regulatory changes which will: require all new homes with a car parking space to have an EV charge point; set minimum requirements for EV charging infrastructure in new non-residential buildings with more than 10 car parking spaces and existing non-residential buildings with more than 20 car parking spaces; and require that private charge points comply with the British Standards Institution’s standards.

The majority of the current EV charging demand is at home and overnight which allows demand on the grid to be balanced however, many households do not have direct access to a garage, drive, or car-port so for many, home charging will not be an easy option.

Key to the success of EVs will therefore be the engagement of government, retailers, hotel chains, corporate landlords, property developers, the automotive industry, network providers, and infrastructure stakeholders, all of whom have a vested interest in benefiting from these substantial opportunities.

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