Government to fund network of 'smart' domestic EV chargers

The UK Government has this week launched a new mandate requiring all domestic electric vehicle (EV) chargers supported by its EV Homecharge Scheme to include "smart" technologies such as remote charging and demand-response capabilities.

The Government scheme has funded the installation of more than 60,000 EV chargers since it was launched in 2014

The Government scheme has funded the installation of more than 60,000 EV chargers since it was launched in 2014

The requirement, which will apply to all charging points installed from July 2019, states that all chargers supported by the grant must be able to be remotely accessed and capable of receiving and interpreting data on grid demand and energy price fluctuations.

This, according to the Government, will encourage EV owners to charge their vehicles during periods of low grid demand, thus minimising the cost of charging to power networks and therefore reducing their energy bills.

Ministers have also confirmed that the maximum grant level available under the EV Homecharge Scheme, which covers charging infrastructure at homes and SMEs, will be maintained at its current level of £500. Owners of hybrid-electric and fully-electric vehicles will both be eligible to receive the grant.

“These measures will make it easier for consumers to move towards electric vehicles, helping us power towards a cleaner, greener future,” Automotive Minister Richard Harrington said.

“Through our modern Industrial Strategy and Automotive Sector Deal, we are investing to ensure the UK is the leading destination for the innovation and manufacture of EV batteries and technologies to help all parts of the UK reap the economic benefits of these innovations.”

The EV Homecharge Scheme was launched in 2014 and has facilitated the installation of more than 60,000 charging points to date.

While the Department for Transport (Dft) and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have praised the scheme for spurring the uptake of EVs, critics have argued that hybrid vehicles and charge points funded by the grants may never have been used.

Road to Zero or road to nowhere?

The launch of the mandate comes after the Government unveiled its highly-anticipated Road to Zero strategy this summer, outlining how a total £1.5bn of investment into low-carbon mobility will be made by 2040.

Ahead of the 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales, it sets an interim target of ensuring more than half of new car sales and 40% of new van sales are ultra-low emission by 2030, while capturing 46 new measures to drive a zero-emission road transport sector across seven key pillars. These are reducing emissions from existing vehicles; driving EV uptake; greening heavy goods vehicle (HGV) fleets; investing in green vehicle design and manufacturing; improving EV infrastructure and supporting local action.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling dubbed the strategy “one of the most comprehensive packages of support in the world” for driving the EV revolution, claimed that the plan would help the UK “win a substantial slice” of the global EV market, which he claimed will be worth up to £7.6trn by 2050.

However, the strategy has been criticised by think-tanks, green groups and industry bodies alike, with the Committee on Climate Change having warned ministers that it is not ambitious enough to meet the UK’s legally-binding carbon budgets.

Sarah George


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