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Devising an EV Charging Strategy – What Should Local Authorities Consider?

Local authorities are fundamental to the UK’s EV transition. Here are four things every local authority should reflect on when creating their EV charging strategy.

ev charging strategy

The UK Government has stressed the importance of support from local authorities in the expansion of EV charging infrastructure, as the 2023 deadline for the ban of petrol and diesel cars and vans draws closer: ‘Through policies and published strategies, local authorities can facilitate and help guide the market to deliver to meet the charging needs of residents, businesses and visitors.’

Yet despite numerous funding packages including the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme and the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Scheme, many local authorities across the UK have not invested in EV charging infrastructure to date.

In October 2021, research from DevicePilot found that 52% of councils in the UK did not spend anything on EV charge points across the previous 12 months, whilst 46% claimed they did not know how many charge points they would be installing or were planning to install no charge points in 2022. In July this year, it was reported that Metro Mayors of 9 major UK cities did not spend the £250m investment fund for the installation of public EV chargers. What is more, 74% of local authorities are currently operating fleets that include over 90% internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.


Why Should Local Authorities Devise An EV Charging Strategy?

Support EV Drivers In Your Area

In DevicePilot’s research, it transpired that 60% of council’s had received complaints about the ‘availability, reliability or number’ of charge points in the past 12 months.

With 533,995 battery-electric cars on UK roads, EV charging is becoming more and more in demand as your constituents switch to electric driving. Refraining from investing in EV charging infrastructure now is only delaying something that will inevitably become a necessity in the near future.


Nurture The EV Transition In Your Local Area

Having a portfolio of accessible EV charging in your council area is a great incentive to encourage people in your council area to consider switching to an EV, particularly those who are sceptical about investing in an EV.

ev charging strategy

Only 78% of homeowners have access to off-street parking, whilst just over half (56%) of EV owners charge at home, a decrease from 78% in 2021. Expanding public charging infrastructure will allow more people to see EV driving as an attainable transportation option.


Boost Your Sustainability Credentials

Beyond supporting your borough’s transition to electric transportation, an EV charging strategy will help you meet your own personal goals for becoming a more environmentally-friendly council. This not only includes incorporating EV charge points into local policies to benefit residents, but supporting the process of switching your council’s fleet to electric, and improving local air quality by reducing carbon emissions.


Devising An EV Strategy

Getting started with EV charging begins with devising a sound, productive strategy. Below, we outline 4 factors every local authority must include in their EV charging strategy.


Location: Which spots in your council area would benefit the most from EV charging?

You may wish to prioritise places where off-street parking is lacking, or target carparks and places with heavy footfall. Destination charging is another option, such as at park and rides or local shopping areas, or on-route charging at motorway forecourts for drivers who are travelling long distances.

Consulting your residents is a way to ensure your EV chargers will be placed in areas with the greatest need, and thus used to the greatest effect. It will also make them feel part of the development process of re-thinking how transportation in their area can become more sustainable, thus encouraging the uptake of EVs in the long-run.


Power: Will you be installing fast, rapid, or ultra-rapid chargers, or a combination?

Ultra-rapid and rapid charging (250+kW chargers) is most effective at locations where drivers will be seeking a quick, efficient top-up, alike the petrol/diesel model of filling up in a short time. Whereas, fast charging (7kW to 22kW) offers drivers a gradual charge, so they are suited for destinations with amenities, such as a retail park or supermarket.

Different chargers will have different power demands. Part of your strategy should be analysing whether the sites you intend to develop on can cope with the power demand of your chosen chargers.


Number: How many charge points will you be installing?

It is worth noting that quantity should not be your predominant focus. It is important to not over install EV charge points, to ensure you are not using unnecessary space, you will not be left with unused chargers, and you are not adding undue pressure to the grid.


Finance: How will you be financing your EV charge point installation?

The UK Government offers a range of financial support packages to local authorities.

The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) provides funding towards the capital costs of public charging installation for residents who do not have access to private parking. This includes developments in local authority-owned residential car parks. £20 million is available through the scheme (2022 to 2023 financial year).

The Local EV Infrastructure Fund supports local authorities who are interested in leveraging private sector investment into local charging networks. Following the £10 million pilot, £450 million is available through the fund.

The EV chargepoint grants for homes enables local authorities that own social housing to apply for the EV charge point grant for landlords. Up to £350 is offered towards the purchase and installation costs of a charge point. A maximum of 200 grants are available for each local authority per annum.

ev charging strategy

The EV chargepoint grant for residential carparks offers grants of up to £30,000 to be put toward the cost of installing EV charge points in residential apartment block parking spaces.

The £950 million Rapid Charging Fund supports the development of the ultra-rapid charging network along major A-roads and motorways.

Finally, the Workplace Charging Scheme is a voucher-based scheme that all local authorities can benefit from. It helps local authorities electrify council fleets and support staff transition to EVs.

There are also different ownership models to consider as part of your EV charging infrastructure. Under an ‘own and operate’ model, the local authority fully funds the installations whilst retaining full ownership of the network and collecting all revenue.

Alternatively, your charge point operator (CPO) can also offer fully financed models, meaning they own the infrastructure. With Mer, local authorities may be entitled to a fully-funded model, with a profit share arrangement with Mer.

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