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Government must develop strategic EV charging plan, says REA

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The Renewable Energy Association has called upon the government to develop a strategic electric vehicle charging infrastructure plan as EV uptake is forecast to boom.

The call follows news from engineering company Dyson that it is to launch an electric vehicle into the market by 2020 just as EV adoption is expected to take off. Dyson is to enter a market already occupied by the likes of Tesla and BMW, with the significant majority of automotive manufacturers having announced moves into the space as well.

This coincides with a UK government announcement earlier this summer that it will ban the sale of new conventional engine vehicles by 2040.

But while the take up of electric vehicles is broadly encouraged, there remain concerns over the country’s available EV charging infrastructure and what significant spikes in electricity demand might mean for the national grid.

National Grid, the UK’s system operator, has discussed at length the inherent issues with EV uptake, publishing a series of articles in which it mused over potential solutions to so-called “grid pinch points” created by greater demand.

And greater adoption of EVs is likely to add strain to a charging infrastructure that has so far failed to live up to expectation. There remains a relatively limited number of publicly-available chargers throughout the UK, and owners of infrastructure networks are struggling to make them self-sufficient.

Ecotricity, which owns the Electric Highway network of chargers, famously revealed last year that its initiative was losing money each year.

But despite those facts, the Renewable Energy Association has said that there is a “major opportunity” for UK firms in the EV supply chain which the government cannot afford to ignore.

“The government can incentivise greater domestic battery and electric vehicle manufacturing by helping to make EVs the obvious new car of choice for future consumers. Easy and accessible charging is crucial for this, and we’re calling on Government develop a strategic charging infrastructure strategy.

“Any EV charging strategy should include the introduction of smart tariffs, three-phase power supply into new homes, ubiquitous access to charging where we live, work and play, and the incorporation of renewable power and energy storage systems to reduce grid stress,” Matthew Trevaskis, head of EVs at the REA, said.

EVs and associated infrastructure are expected to feature prominently in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s forthcoming Clean Growth Strategy, which climate minister Claire Perry revealed yesterday could be just days away from being released.

Speaking at the opening of the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm yesterday, Perry teased that the strategy would include a “broad” scope of policies considering the country’s more pressing needs to decarbonise the heat and transport sectors. 


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