National Grid Electricity Distribution President calls for more collaboration to speed up EV transition

The President of National Grid Electricity Distribution (NGED) has told the Transport+Energy Forum event in Birmingham no one organisation can lead on the transmission to an electric vehicle future – we have to collaborate to deliver. 

Cordi O’Hara (pictured, right) said the industry is making “solid progress” in delivering the infrastructure required, “but of course there’s more to do and from a momentum perspective we have to speed up.  We will need to collaborate and innovate to rewire the road to net zero.”

She pointed to how the country has connected more EVs to the electricity network in the last two years, compared to all the EVs in history.  “We have gone from 700 a month in recent history, to 7,000 now and the potential for 15,000 a month very soon.  Networks are a critical enabler of EV transition and we are keen to play our part,” she said, and promised the publication of a strategy to do so in December.

Regarding collaboration she added, “We want to be a partner, which is why we chose to be a principal sponsor of this event – transport and networks coming together presents a massive opportunity to work together.”

Also speaking at the event, Lizzie Culwick (pictured, left), Joint head of the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles reminded the audience that transport remains the largest emitting sector, contributing to 90% of all transport emissions, but that industry figures show there are more than 50,000 chargepoints in the UK so the transition momentum is building.

She promised “Ambitious, legally binding targets” with three key charging challenges around consumer experience, pace of rollout and charging for long journeys

“Transforming the consumer experience includes clear pricing and contactless payment requirements,” she said. “They must be reliable, and offer open data and payment roaming, so drivers can use the same app or card regardless of the chargepoint provider.”

She promised to support local authorities to offer on-street chargepoints, pointing to a £343 million fund supporting every area in England, as well as guidance and training through learning from best practice.

She mentioned the plan for drivers with its seven measures to support transition, including speeding up the grid connections, making installation of on-street easier through changes to planning, and challenging misinformation about electric vehicles.

On long distance driving, she promised OZEV is committed to facilitating a “world class rapid charging network”, including supporting motorway service areas to have sufficient electricity supply for rapid charging.

When it comes to delivering the electricity required, Cordi O’Hara committed to bringing the grid closer to under-supplied motorway service areas and also talked about building the local network, unlocking capacity, delivering flexibility and supporting communities to transition to net zero.

“If there’s one change people can interact with net zero daily, it’s electric vehicles,” she said. “The infrastructure is visible everywhere, from EV chargers in a supermarket car park to the lamppost outside their house.”

In her speech about “rewiring the road to net zero”, Ms O’Hara also said EVs are fantastic assets – when they’re moving, they are emission free and when they’re parked, they’re a battery on wheels – taking power when supply is high and returning power to the grid at the time of greatest demand.

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