Electric vehicle ‘black hole’ with shortfall of 250k chargers in next decade

New research from UK100, the network of mayors and local leaders, shows that the UK’s charging infrastructure is likely to creak under demand as there are only 12 rapid electric vehicle chargers in each local council area, fewer than 7 for every 100,000 people in the UK – or 1 charger for every 14,705 people.

Currently, the UK has 24,374 public charging points, but will need around 325,000 public charging points in just over a decade in order to meet the demand. New UK100 analysis shows that at the current rate of growth, it is predicted there will be around 76,849 chargers by 2032, a shortfall of nearly a quarter of a million (248,151), or only a quarter of the expected demand.

Around 18 million battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) will be on the road when the ban on the sale of new internal combustion vehicles is introduced in 2030.

In a UK100 report to be published entitled ‘Economic Benefits of Local Climate Action’, researchers have found that 136 local authorities have 5 or fewer rapid chargers which are accessible to the public, and will struggle to keep up with demand.

The group is calling for local authorities to be given greater funding and powers to force energy companies to install electric vehicle charging points. A recent communique signed by 32 mayors and local leaders urged the government to reduce “the high costs of connecting EV charging networks to the grid…to enable a seamless vehicle charging network across the UK.”

The vast majority of EV chargers are in London (7,489 chargers) – which has 8 times as many per person than the North East (887 chargers). Of the top 10 areas with the most public charging points, only 3 are outside London (Milton Keynes, Coventry and Brighton & Hove).

With the sale of new petrol and diesel cars due to be banned from 2030, a huge rise in the number of electric cars and vans is expected in the coming years.

According to a May 2021 report, Ofgem predicts that one in four consumers plan to buy an electric car in next five years[4]. While charge point grant programmes have been rolled out, a CCC report warns that “there is an absence of an overarching strategy to coordinate and support Local Authorities to ensure that the required number of charge points, especially on street and rapid charging points, by region is available in time.”

Currently, 139 Local Authorities have 30 or fewer charging points for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

The 5 areas with the fewest electric chargers are: Castle Point, Fenland, Selby, Brentwood and Barrow in Furness. The 5 areas with the most chargers are: Westminster, Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Coventry.

While the UK Government has set targets to double rapid charging by 2024 and ensure access to 2,500 high powered charging points across England’s inter-urban routes, no targets have been set for on-street or at-home charging.

Currently, 80% of EV users charge their vehicles at home overnight, while 34% of households do not have off-street parking and need to charge on-street or elsewhere. Charge point grant programmes have been rolled out, but there is an absence of an overarching strategy to coordinate and support Local Authorities to ensure that the required number of charge points by region is available in time.

Polly Billington, CEO of UK100, said: “Our research shows that the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure is going to creak under demand with a ‘black hole’ of a quarter of a million chargers. We need a coherent plan to massively accelerate our investment in the infrastructure that will enable us to meet Net Zero. Consumers are willing to do the right thing but only if they have confidence the networks are in place.”

Cllr Jenny Wilson-Marklew, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Sustainability, at Milton Keynes Council, said: “We’re making good progress and have already installed 400 charging points in MK with a further 250 planned in residential areas. This is just a starting point and if we’re really serious about tackling climate change then we need the infrastructure in place to make it easier for everyone.”

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “As an inner London borough, Tower Hamlets has some of the worst levels of air pollution in the capital. Increasing the number and use of electric vehicles in Tower Hamlets will go a long way to improving our air quality and helping to protect the health of our residents, and I’m delighted that this month we have given the go-ahead for four hundred new EV charging points in Tower Hamlets, as well as launching a consultation so that residents can suggest locations for new EV charging points.”

Cllr Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said: “Stronger powers and more funding – these are the twin challenges to solve if local authorities are to play our role to the full in ensuring electric vehicle charging is available on the scale needed. Greater support from the government, and more certainty about the future strategy, are vital to achieving this. UK100’s new report provides an invaluable guide to how we can make this happen.”

Image: Shutterstock

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