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The road to net zero needs innovation, not trepidation

Image: SSE.

Thanks to climate change, air quality and net zero being front and centre of the news agenda the direction of travel for EVs is now one way – and that is forwards. Indeed, the industry is expecting supportive EV measures to feature in March’s Budget.

It’s welcome news that policy makers are now alert to the growing demand for the UK to green its transport, which currently contributes almost a quarter of the UK’s CO2 emissions.

But what can industry do to help ensure the EV infrastructure challenges are met as effectively as possible? After all much scepticism exists out there that the UK will hit its legally binding climate change targets; with the finger of blame pointed at infrastructure.

I think it’s innovation rather than trepidation that’s needed here. At SSE Enterprise we have installed major infrastructure at bus depots such as at London’s Waterloo, which means they can charge overnight and offer Londoners green and clean public transport in the day.

Elsewhere in the capital we are also in the process of building out what will potentially be the world’s largest 100% electric bus charging station at Northumberland Park, with an existing infrastructure of 36 charging points going to reach close to 100 soon.

But we feel we can do more with that site which is why we’ve two very exciting projects in development that epitomise the kind of innovation required if we’re really going to crack the EV infrastructure conundrum in our towns and cities.

First up, cutting-edge trials will soon get underway into how batteries in electric buses can support the power network by using two directional charging.

The ‘Bus2Grid’ project involves an SSE Enterprise-led consortium, partly funded by BEIS and OLEV through Innovate UK. It is being hailed as the first of its kind and will involve over 30 e-buses using smart technology to provide bi-directional charging that enables the e-bus batteries to interact with the energy system.

The trials will explore the mechanisms for V2G (vehicles-to-grid), which will have the benefits of enabling a more resilient and robust Grid, whilst helping the UK hit climate emission targets by facilitating transport decarbonisation.

Bus2Grid is an industry, academic and energy community partnership to support the transition to electric vehicles; which will place a huge strain on a network that wasn’t designed with EV technology in mind.

And secondly, we are looking at bringing forward something which I think is something of a unique concept called third party charging. We want to build an extra three rapid chargers which will allow bus and fleet operators to use the spare daytime capacity of the site.

Remember Northumberland Park is primarily an overnight charging facility, so why shouldn’t the likes of Uber or Amazon deliveries come and use our site to charge up in daytime hours when the EV buses are out and about keeping Londoners moving?

So, at SSE Enterprise we are excited rather than daunted by the challenge of providing the EV infrastructure that will help policy makers deliver green public transport. When you are operating in a market where there’s no handbook you’re only limited by your innovation.

My message to those organisations daunted by the challenge of getting green EV transport onto our roads is, don’t be! Collectively we can find the solutions to get us firmly on the road to net zero, without the need to always be looking in the rear-view mirror.


Kevin Welstead EV sector director, SSE Enterprise

Kevin Welstead is EV sector director at SSE Enterprise.


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