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Further EV charging regulation could stifle innovation and 'skew the market', BP Chargemaster warns

Image: BP Chargemaster

Image: BP Chargemaster

BP Chargemaster’s lead counsel, Daniel Kaufman, has warned against calling for extra regulation and addressed claims for greater interoperability between charge point operators.

Speaking at an industry event organised by law firm Bird&Bird, Kaufman was asked by a member of the audience whether there is a need for more interoperability. In response, he pointed to BP Chargemaster’s pay-as-you-go model, as well as the contactless payments being rolled out across its rapid chargers, which he said already provides the public with “full roaming access”.

“That is interoperability to me,” he said, adding; “we are looking at [interoperability] with other networks but it’s got to be the right models”.

BP Chargemaster was one of three operators sent a letter by chair of the APPG on electric vehicles, Matt Western, to open up their networks to greater interoperability and roaming agreements. The two other operators – Pod Point and Ecotricity – fired back, saying their networks were already interoperable due to contactless and free charging.

Kaufman went on to warn against calling for greater policy and regulation as this risks “skewing the market in a particular direction” and potentially impacting innovation, with a need to be careful of “supporting one business model over another”.

“When we’re calling for more regulation and market intervention to ramp up the rollout, perhaps we should actually be looking at incentivizing the supply and take up of EVs,” he said, pointing to the low utilisation of charge points due to there not being enough EVs on the road for the number of charge points installed.

EV charging sites outnumbered petrol forecourts for the first time in May, passing a major milestone. However, figures from SMMT show that sales of battery electric vehicles – whilst jumping to 2.2.% in October – only make up 1.4% of the market share so far this year.

Another challenge for charge point operators is grid connections, an area Kaufman said intervention is required.

The process of securing a grid connection can involve lengthy negotiations and take up “significant” time and resources.

“Sometimes that process can undermine the economics of really good utilisation sites,” he said, adding that information around available capacity at a site and what the necessary grid upgrades are is only available “quite late” in the investment project timeline.

He suggested that having the information publicly available would make investment and capex planning “much easier”.

“Without having that information available, there are some great, high utilisation sites that just get ignored or postponed as we don’t have enough visibility over what the final costs are going to be,” he said.

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