UK ‘lags behind’ mainland Europe on EV infrastructure

Concerns over charging infrastructure have repeatedly been cited as a barrier to EV uptake in the UK

Only one-fifth of UK-based EV drivers have access to the fastest rate of home charging of 22kW or higher, compared with nearly 75 per cent of German users.

This, Delta-EE says, is a result of the predominantly single-phase residential electricity supply across the UK.

Delta-EE’s electricity and EV product manager Alexander Lewis-Jones said: “Residential electricity supply on the continent lends itself much better to high-power uses such as fast home EV charging than in the UK.

“Our reliance on single-phase supply could hold us back in the future. Twelve-hour overnight charges are one thing, but as the EV transition gathers pace and battery sizes grow – and we potentially pivot to electrified heating too – this may become a cause for regret.”

The research added there is a need for better public charging infrastructure before more drivers will turn to EVs, describing the UK as an “archipelago of unconnected public charging islands” which is not the case on the continent.

Lewis-Jones said that the “other side of the coin” is public charging infrastructure.

He added: “The reality is drivers won’t go electric until the public infrastructure is in place, but if we get it right, it could also compensate for any shortcomings in UK home-charging.

“Our data shows that, if the UK is serious about being a leader in the EV transition, we need to invest strategically and work collaboratively with the customer’s journey at the front of our mind.”

The consultancy firm found the UK also stood out as having the lowest proportion of EV drivers using regular plug sockets to charge their cars at 22 per cent, and the highest proportion using dedicated EV charging points for home charging (73 per cent) – in Germany only half of the respondents said the same.

Furthermore, the findings suggest that EV drivers in the UK are “diligent” about safe and proper charging and that the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) grant has been a successful policy in encouraging those behaviours and making them affordable.

Lewis-Jones added: “This is evidence that the UK government’s home charge point grant has been a great policy success.

“Let’s hope this continues when, from July this year, we transition towards giving grants to ‘smart’ home charge points to help accommodate EVs into the energy system.

“Single-phase supply is a drawback, but this is an opportunity for the UK to lead Europe on advanced home charging solutions.”

In response to the findings, a Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The government wants charge points to be accessible, affordable and secure, and there are grants available for dedicated electric vehicle charge points at home, the workplace and in public spaces.

“With record levels of ultra-low emission vehicles on UK roads, take-up is clearly growing. There are now over 20,000 public charge points, and more than 2,000 of these are rapid devices – one of the largest networks of rapids in Europe.”

Last week the Scottish government announced more than £20 million of funding to support the uptake of EVs.

Five local authorities have been awarded £12.1 million through the Switched on Towns and Cities Challenge Fund to install 500 new public chargers. And another 31 will receive a share of £8.5 million to install 300 chargers for the latest phase of the Local Authority Installation Programme.

Adam John 

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title, Utility Week

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