Welcoming the UK Government’s £1.6 billion of support under the new Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy

29/03/2022

Welcoming the UK Government’s £1.6 billion of support under the new Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy

scott mathieson

By Scott Mathieson, Director of Network Planning & Regulation

We have welcomed the UK Government’s announcement of £1.6 billion of funding for the country’s Net Zero future.

Released last week, the UK Government have published their new Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy – with plans to boost investment and innovation to reach 300,000 public electric vehicle (EV) changepoints by 2030 – the equivalent to almost five times the number of fuel pumps on our roads today.

The new strategy sets out the government’s aim to expand the UK’s charging network, so that it is robust, fair and covers the entire country – as well as improving the consumer experience at all chargepoints, with significant support focused on those without access to off-street parking, and on fast charging for longer journeys.

At SP Energy Networks, we’re acutely aware of the challenges and opportunities this electrified future will bring for our customers and communities up and down the country. As we look to this future – there’s one thing that’s certain… none of this will be possible without an innovative, robust and modern electricity network that will support the electrification of transport and the achievement of legislated Net Zero targets.

Put simply, there’s no Net Zero without networks.

We stand ready to support a cleaner, greener and fairer future for our customers and communities

For many drivers, the transition to EVs will be unrealistic without greater access to public charging infrastructure, with approximately 40% of UK homes unsuited for private off-road charging. And, by the end of the next decade, we expect the number of electric vehicles we supply on our distribution networks to increase from approximately 14,000 just now to 1.8 million. It is therefore essential that the government and Ofgem support a strategic plan of public EV charging infrastructure rollout, to ensure that there are no communities left behind, even where it is uneconomical for the commerical market to deliver.

As such, UK Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) like SP Energy Networks are already looking at a wide range of solutions to enable greater deployment of public chargepoints. These include substantial plans for targeted network reinforcement and the provision of flexible connections dedicated to public charging infrastructure.

An example of this is our Charge Project – its purpose is to accelerate the deployment of public chargepoints for electric vehicles (EVs) by providing stakeholders in Merseyside, Cheshire, North Shropshire, North and Mid Wales with access to information about where there will be a growing demand for public charging infrastructure and where there is available network capacity. In combination, this information will enable optimal investment locations to be identified.

spen_proj_charge_news_transport_modelThe Charge Project also includes the launch of an online tool to help businesses and local authorities identify optimum locations to connect EV chargepoints.

Alongside this, our EV-Up team have developed a modelling and forecasting tools to analyse the predicted uptake of EVs across the country to allow prioritisation of our reinforcement investment.

In Scotland, our strategic partnership with Transport Scotland and local authorities on project PACE has already demonstrated our commitment and ability to deliver on key public EV infrastructure, and has so far driven delivery of 180 new public chargers across 44 EV charging hubs in North and South Lanarkshire, and we’ve just recently hit 93,000 charges on those already in place. That equates to over 1900MWh of energy, enabling 7.2million miles to be driven by motorists by using clean, green vehicles.

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The project has already demonstrated a saving of  £1.5 million - £2.8 million in forecasted connection costs across the 44 EV charging hubs, and if scaled up across the UK could save up to £94 million in forecasted connection costs savings.

All of this reinforces that we recognise how significant the electrification of transport is to the network of future and to meeting those ambitious climate change targets and are committed to doing all that we can to build that better future, quicker for everyone.

Our RIIO-ED2 Business Plan that we published on 1 December is the most important that we have ever produced and sets out how we’ll build the foundations for this revolution across the communities we serve. From 2023 to 2028, we propose spending more than £3 billion across our distribution networks in Central and Southern Scotland, North Wales, Merseyside, Cheshire, and North Shropshire to enable this path to our Net Zero future. 

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As part of this – we’re already proposing clear plans that would see us support Local Authorities across our network with EV optioneering support that would reduce the cost of establishing public charging points and help enable this access to public EV chargepoints. All of this is alongside the billions of pounds worth of investment that’s needed to make sure our networks enable the Net Zero future our customers and communities need.

While we expect Ofgem to release their Draft Determinations on our plans in the summer of this year – we’d call on both the regulator and Government to ensure that our regulatory framework is fit-for-purpose, recognises the pivotal role we play and is flexible enough to deliver for our customers in their decarbonisation journey.


Finally, as the only Distribution Network Operator to serve all three devolved regions of GB, we understand that Net Zero will not evolve at the same pace across every of the country. Because of this, our plans are built around the needs of our communities and their unique Net Zero ambitions.

We look forward to more constructive discussions on how we can make these plans a reality for our communities.

Scott

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