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Regulator to invest £300m in electric car charging network

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Ofgem is funding a £300m investment to install 1,800 new ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging points at motorway service areas and on key trunk road locations, tripling the current network.

A further 1,750 charging points will be installed in towns and cities. The investment will be delivered in the next two years and is part of a much bigger plan to ensure the UK has the energy infrastructure it needs to support the move to low carbon transport and heating.

While electric car ownership is on the rise, Ofgem research has found that 36% of households that don’t intend to get an electric vehicle are put off making the switch because of a lack of charging points near their home.

It says an extensive motorway charging network and more charging points in cities and train stations will help address this ‘range anxiety’.

Under the regulator’s plans, cities such as Glasgow, Kirkwall, Warrington, Llandudno, York and Truro will benefit from increased network capacity to support more ultra-rapid charge points, increased renewable electricity generation and the move to more electric heating for homes and businesses.

The investment will also cover more rural areas with charging points for commuters at train stations in North and Mid Wales, and the electrification of the Windermere ferry.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem said: “This £300m down payment is just the start of building back a greener energy network which will see well over £40bn of investment in Britain’s energy networks in the next seven years.

“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 1,800 ultra-rapid charge points, tripling the number of these public charge points. Drivers will have more charging options for longer journeys.”

A study by Which? earlier this year found ‘serious issues’ within the infrastructure that could deter people from buying electric vehicles. It found motorists cannot easily use charging networks operated by different providers as they use different apps and payment methods, and drivers can face unnecessarily expensive charges.

Justina Miltienyte, policy expert at Uswitch, said: “Consumers are keen to embrace electric vehicles (EVs) but the lack of charging points is a sticking point for motorists who fear running out of power halfway through a journey.

“This investment and extra charging points from Ofgem is a big step in the right direction, as customers still need to be convinced that taking the plunge into EVs is a convenient and affordable option for them.”

John Wilmot, CEO, car leasing comparison website LeaseLoco, said: “This announcement by Ofgem is exactly what is needed if the green motoring revolution is to stay on track. Consumers are committed to greener motoring, and that was confirmed in a recent survey we carried out of UK car owners. Almost a third said they would consider buying electric as their next car, but had concerns about the capability of the charging infrastructure.

“At the end of the day, car owners will be reluctant to trade in their diesel and petrol motors for electric if they feel that charging their cars will become an inconvenience. If they are going to be persuaded to early switch to electric now, investment in the charging infrastructure has to be the top priority.”