EV uptake is facing bumps in the road if we don’t fix charging infrastructure

By James McKechnie, National Director – Transportation & Mobility Analytics at Hydrock

With the government preparing to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, the uptake of electric vehicles is set to increase 20-fold over the next seven years. This would undoubtedly play a major part in helping us decarbonise our country and reach our net zero target by 2050.

But, across the UK, our current charging infrastructure is unable to sustain this predicted growth. Estimates show we would need to be delivering ten times the current number of charging points before the 2030 cut-off. And it’s not just the number of chargers we need to look at. If we want to avoid the seemingly random concentration of infrastructure in a few hubs around the country, and vast areas without access to public EV charging, we need to adopt an evidence-led strategy to charging infrastructure which will avoid businesses and local authorities wasting money installing the wrong types of chargers in the wrong places.

This is the only way we will be able to build consumer confidence in EVs. With 80 charging points per 100,000 people in London currently, compared with just 10 Yorkshire and the Humber, it’s time we found a better solution for the effective roll out of charging infrastructure in the UK.

Understanding assets, and consumers

Since the government’s ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ set out the plans to phase-out petrol and diesel cars, companies and councils around the UK have been taking steps to ensure they are prepared with adequate EV charging provisions. Afterall, failure to cater for electric vehicle drivers will ultimately isolate businesses of all types from a large, growing customer base. Similarly, councils must consider how EV charging supports local centres, protects critical revenue streams, and democratises EV uptake. But we need to look more closely at the type of infrastructure that is being installed. More often than not, due to a lack of a data-led approach, critical errors are made in terms of the number and type of charging points needed.

Incorrectly assessing what is needed across an asset portfolio is not just a costly financial error but is also a problem that can increase costs by overestimating demand on the national grid. Across the UK, almost one in five public charging points are rapid chargers. That’s great if your vehicle is low on charge and you are stopping off for a quick trip to your local shopping centre. However, if you are parking for a longer duration your vehicle doesn’t need to be charged within twenty minutes.

Understanding consumer behaviours and the needs of an individual asset is key to implementing a successful EV charging strategy which will help consumer make the jump to an electric vehicle.

The need for a data-led approach

It is time for us to look to data-driven strategies to help make informed decisions on EV charging provision. Currently, decisions often worth millions of pounds, are being made without real insights, creating unnecessary risk and expenses, and sometimes resulting in a lack of infrastructure which hampers EV take up. The cost of EV chargers vary considerably, particularly between lower powered AC chargers and higher powered DC units – where grid capacity is a constraint, we have seen grid connection costs between £50,000 to £2m per MW. Overprovision can be an expensive mistake which can lead to both high costs and loss of revenue.

With StratEV, Hydrock’s bespoke EV charging modelling tool, we can draw together data to predict charger usage, power demand and revenue to provide efficient solutions that reduce cost and maximise future uptake. The benefit of modelling when developing an EV charging strategy is the degree of certainty that the data-led approach provides. Devising an EV infrastructure strategy using data takes the guesswork out of the equation and helps make informed decisions.

The future is EV

We all make conscious efforts to be more sustainable – from using a reusable water bottle to separating our cardboard parcel boxes in the rubbish. The transition to electric vehicles is a key part of building a more sustainable future – but for this to happen we must deliver the right charging infrastructure. Drivers, from all corners of the country, need to be confident that the move to an electric vehicle is a sustainable solution, and this means providing them with the certainty that they will be able to charge their car wherever they are. This can only be achieved by adopting a data-led approach which will eliminate inflated infrastructure costs and risks.

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