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Government pledges ‘infrastructure will not be a barrier’ in Transport Decarbonisation Plan

The government has already committed to banning sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, a key element of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan. Image: Getty.

The government has already committed to banning sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, a key element of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan. Image: Getty.

Charging infrastructure is critical to achieving net zero transport, the Department for Transport (DfT) has said in its Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

The plan – which provides a roadmap to the decarbonisation of the transport sector – outlines a number of strategic priorities for the government in achieving this including:

  • Acclerating modal shift to public and active transport
  • Decarbonising road transport
  • Decarbonising how we get our goods
  • Making the UK a hub for green transport technology and innovation
  • Developing place based solutions to emissions reductions
  • Reducing carbon in a global economy

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan comes alongside the 2035 Delivery Plan, which details the government's plans to reach its phase out dates for cars and vans - 2030 for the sale of new petrol and diesel and 2035 for hybrids. It sets out commitments, funding streams and key timelines and milestones

For the electric vehicle (EV) rollout – which forms part of the decarbonising road transport strategic priority – the DfT announced what it said was a new £90 million Local EV Infrastructure Fund, which is to open in 2022 and support the rollout of larger on-street charging schemes and rapid charging hubs across England.

Alongside this, an EV infrastructure guide for local authorities will be published later this year. Moving forward, local authorities will be able to take local action to ensure recharging and refuelling infrastructure meets local needs, considers appropriate parking or congestion management policies and transforms local public transport operations among other measures.

As private investment in the EV charging sector increases, the government is to increasingly focus on putting in place a policy and regulatory framework that supports increased investment and competition while meeting customer needs.

Specifically, the government is to regulate later this year to ensure all private chargepoints have smart capability, and that all new build residential and non-residential buildings with an associated parking space have a chargepoint.

The latter of these was first announced in 2019, with the government proposing that new build houses and existing non-residential buildings with over 20 parking spaces would be required to have a chargepoint as part of an initial public consultation.

Meanwhile, smart charging has also been on the government's radar for a number of years, with the first draft of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act published in 2017. This Act - which came into law in 2018 - stipulates that all private chargers sold or installed must be capable of smart charging.

In response to the plan, David Watson, CEO and founder of Ohme said there must be a holistic approach to smart charging to manage spikes in demand on the grid.

"This must include incentives for consumers, businesses and fleets, in addition to education and awareness campaigns, and greater collaboration between government, energy companies and clean tech companies," he said.

The government also plans to regulate measures to improve the consumer experience of public charging this year, stating in the plan that it will open up public chargepoint data, improve the reliability of the network, streamline payment methods and increase pricing transparency.

This follows a consultation looking at the four areas, which took place earlier this year and was welcomed by some of the UK's EV charging networks, with payment interoperability and roaming in particular being described as a “vital area" in need of leadership.

Additionally, the government has also committed to publishing a call for evidence for V2G technologies in a net zero energy system.

A full EV infrastructure strategy is to be published by the DfT later this year, which will set out its vision for infrastructure rollout and the roles for the public and private sectors in achieving this.

Further to this, the government together with Ofgem is to publish a second phase of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan this year to set out reforms needed to secure flexibility across the energy system, including EVs.

The first Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan was published in 2017, with a focus on the removal of barriers to storage, enabling smart markets and businesses and making markets work for flexibility. It also included detail on measures such as the Targeted Charging Review.

Additionally, the DfT made reference to the £1.5 billion it has already committed between 2015 and March 2021, as well as a further £2.8 billion package of measures to support the transition. £1.3 billion of this is to accelerate the rollout of charging infrastructure as first been announced in the Ten Point Plan, with the subsequent £1 billion to go towards building an internationally competitive EV supply chain, while £582 million will go to plug-in vehicle grants.

Government funding for EV charging announced in recent years includes £20 million for the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund - £200 million of which is sourced through private investment, which is then matched by government funding - and the Rapid Charging Fund, which is aiming to install six rapid chargers on each Motorway Service area site by 2023.

Funding is also to go towards the electrification of buses, with the plan detailing how the government will invest up to £120 million across 2021-22 to support up to 500 zero emission buses and the associated infrastructure.

The government is also consulting on the design of a new domestic regulatory regime for road vehicles CO2 emissions, including the possible introduction of a zero emission vehicle mandate, which establishes sales percentage targets that must be met by vehicle manufacturers, requiring to them to sell a certain proportion of zero emission vehicles.

Lastly, the government said it is confident the grid can handle the increasing demand from transport and elsewhere, with the market already bringing forward investment in further generation. However David Flood, senior vice president of European wind and solar at Statkraft, said that in order to phase out petrol and diesel, "the UK must also invest in the stability of our electricity grid".

"This is essential to make sure our electrified transport system can draw renewable energy into our cars, HGVs, trains and infrastructure.”

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