Before talking about charge points, there is an elephant in the room to mention first. We bring it up a lot, but we won’t apologise for that fact. This is something that everyone needs to be keenly aware of. In 2030 the UK is going to ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars. This means that there is not much time for manufacturers and other automotive businesses to get their act together and start pushing out electric cars.
However, the biggest concern throughout the nation is the number of charge points available for members of the public to charge their electric vehicles. 2030 really is not too long away now and there is going to be a rapidly increasing demand for electric charging points leading up to 2030 and in the years after.
So, the question is, are we ready? If not, will we be ready when the new legislation comes into force in just 7 years time? These are really important questions. Hopefully we can provide a few answers.
Charge Points – The Final Countdown
In 2011 when the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles was created (Office for Low Emission Vehicles as it was at the time), there were only 1,052 electric cars on the UK roads. Fast forward to 2023 and we have more than half a million electric cars on the road and growing all the time. It isn’t, therefore, surprising that the demand for charging points has increased in that time too.
The team in charge of the task of getting the charging points out there is the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles, co-headed by Katie Black. There is a lot of pressure on this team to get the number of charge points to where they should be. Not only that, they also want charge points to be visible and have clear and understandable payment structures and methods, not to mention be reliable as well.
There is a lot to do in just 7 years.
How Big is the Task Ahead?
The goal that the Government has set for 2030 is 300,000 public charge points. Some commenters think that this number is too low and that the UK will require closer to 450,000 charge points in 2030. £1.6 billion has been ring-fenced to build the charging infrastructure by the Government. Private sector companies are also building charge points infrastructure in the UK. BP Pulse, for example, has invested £1 billion for ultra-fast charging infrastructure.
The number of charge points in the United Kingdom has already grown quite considerably. Only looking back as far as the year 2018 there were fewer than 8,000 charge points in the country. This was fine for the time due to the lower level of electric vehicles on the road. Fast forward to 2023 and there are, at the time of writing, 37,851 charging devices with 62,332 connectors at 22,355 locations in the country. This includes 7,579 rapid charging devices with 16,119 rapid charging connectors.
So we can see that the number of charging points is increasing at quite a rate. However, we are still a long way off where we need to be in a few years time.
Will the Golden Number of Charge Points be Reached?
The million dollar question is whether we will hit the number required by 2030? Well, the inside word is that yes, we will hit the golden number. In fact, with the Government and many private sectors all investing billions of pounds in building EV architecture, there is a very strong chance that we will see far more than the 450,000 that some say is the real figure we need to hit as a country.
A lot of partnerships are being announced by private charge point installers and local authorities. We are already seeing plans for charge points to be installed in car parks, lamp posts and other on street locations. Charging hubs are springing up in more and more places up and down the country, and businesses are introducing public charging points to entice customers. With such a collective effort, I am sure that we will get there.
Are There Any Other Issues to Address?
Of course, as with anything, there will be teething problems that have to be addressed. One such problem that has persisted in the past is the reliability of the charge points already in place. However, as well as installing new charge points, a lot of providers are going back to their existing charge points to update them with newer technology. In some places these companies are upgrading existing charge points to be rapid and ultra rapid charge points.
Reliability of new charge points is also at the forefront of the installation plans. Newer charging technology and monitoring mean that new charge points will be far more reliable than ever before. This makes sense. A lot of the charging points where issues existed would have been in the first wave of installations. We have moved on a long way since then.
Another issue is still the local authorities who are being slow at implementing the charge points installation. This was highlighted recently when it was divulged that the London Boroughs most strongly opposing the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in August are also the London Boroughs who have done the least in implementing charge point installation. This lack of any sense of urgency is concerning when you realise how close we are to petrol and diesel car D-Day. Expect a huge mass panic of work being carried out at the last moment.