Service stations on the UK’s motorways and major trunk roads will get an additional 1800 ultra-rapid charging points – tripling the current network and feeding into other ongoing, strategic charging projects currently in progress.
As well as helping to build the public network on key routes, a further 1750 charging points in towns and cities will be funded from the £300m pot. Crucially, as part of these installations, the fund will help pay for upgrades to the cables, substations and other infrastructure required to increase power availability and fulfil future charging demands prior to the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales.
Ofgem is splitting the fund between 204 net zero projects across every region within England, Scotland and Wales. So-called ‘shovel-ready’ projects, some of which will start before the end of the year, are the main benefactors. Ofgem points out that as well as the strategic road network and urban locations, the fund will support rural areas, with locations such as train stations in north and mid Wales gaining chargepoints. It’s not just cars either; the Windermere ferry will be electrified thanks to the funding.
According to Ofgem Chief Executive, Jonathan Brearley: “The payment will support the rapid take up of electric vehicles which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets. Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to. We’re paving the way for the installation of 1800 ultra-rapid charge points, tripling the number of these public charge points. Drivers will have more charging options for longer journeys.”
Of course, in the scheme of things £300 million isn’t a great deal of money in supporting the wholesale change in how we power our personal transport. However, this particular fund, which will be spent over the next two years, is part of a larger, £40bn investment in Ofgem’s regulation of energy networks. This larger pot of money is destined to be spent between now and 2028 in readying infrastructure for an EV future.
Already, Ofgem has made moves towards a greener future with billions being invested in network companies starting in April last year, and billions more set to be released to allow local networks to employ flexible grid management technologies from 2023 onwards.
Any investment is good investment when it comes to supporting low and zero carbon projects that support the public in running EVs. The installation of over 3500 chargepoints isn’t really the story here; we’re going to need ten times more than that each year by 2030 to support the predicted demand – according to some studies. It’s the investment by Ofgem in the infrastructure that is important, as without fortifying the grid and increasing energy availability in some areas, buying and running an EV is going to remain a non-starter for some people in some areas of the nation.