THE Department for Transport (DfT) said it is setting aside £70m to support trials of ultra-rapid vehicle charging points at motorway service stations.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said that the funding will cover some of the costs of upgrading the electricity grid at 10 motorway service areas to help ensure that ultra-rapid chargers will not have a long wait to connect to the grid due to capacity restraints.
The DfT is working with National Highways to identify which areas are most in need of grid upgrades to support additional charging and said it will use the pilot scheme to gather evidence to “inform the design of a full fund”.
Tom Bloor managing director of EV charging firm, evec, said the announcement could be a game-changer for long-distance EV travel, making it even easier and more convenient to drive electric.
He added: “The new charge points will be capable of charging an EV from 10% to 80% in just 20 minutes. This will make it possible to top up your battery quickly and easily while you’re taking a break on your journey.
“The government is also investing in upgrading the electricity grid at motorway service stations to ensure that they can support the new charge points. This will help to future-proof the grid for the increasing number of EVs on the road. To support the UK’s transition to a zero-emission transport future, it’s essential that we have the infrastructure in place to support the growing number of EVs on the road.”
Robert Stocker, Senior Associate at Charles River Associates’ Energy Practice, said the DfT announcement was timely given the recent fall in EV registrations. “There is a need for positive signals to consumers around charging availability. It also echoes findings in our recent Fleet Electrification report launched in Autumn this year.
“Our report looked at challenges and solutions associated with fleet electrification in the UK and Europe and highlighted how electrifying fleets (25% of total road transport vehicles) would reduce road transport emissions by 50%. Additionally, it looked at how many fleet segments will need to rely on the public MSA network, such as long haul logistics (HDVs and LCVs) or rental cars – therefore highlighting the need for a developed public rapid charging network that can support both the public and fleet segments.
“This pilot programme could directly support navigating many of the challenges that fleet operators face, especially if connections are indeed ‘future-proofed’ and avoid disruptive future upgrades, however there is still uncertainty as to where these upgrades will sit within the long list of grid connection queues.”