£70m pilot scheme to help power up motorway service areas

Transport Secretary Mark Harper has announced a £70 million pilot scheme which will help power up motorway service areas and pave the way for more ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargepoints.

Speaking on COP28 Transport Day in Dubai, Mr Harper laid out plans for up to 10 trial sites in England with boosted electrical network capacity – ensuring electricity network capacity is future-proofed for at least ten years, to 2035.

COP28 marks a pivotal moment in addressing climate change, with the UK having decarbonised faster than any other major economy and committed to the fastest reduction in emissions between 1990 and 2030 on current pledges.

Today’s (6 December) rapid chargepoint announcement, part of the Government’s ambitious Rapid Charging Fund, will cover a portion of the costs of upgrading the electricity grid at successful motorway service areas, ensuring that the private sector can continue to expand the charging network and providing consumers more confidence to choose EVs.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said:

“This Government is on the side of drivers and working with the private sector to provide robust chargepoint infrastructure is part of our Plan for Drivers, with today’s announcement paving the way for more ultra-rapid chargepoints.

“This £70m pilot scheme is the starting point and sends a message to consumers and industry that we are investing wisely and rapidly to grow the future of transport in the UK.”

Technology and Decarbonisation Minister Anthony Browne said:

“This is an important next step in our journey to net zero, and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to help the private sector expand our charging network.

“The scheme follows our world-leading zero emission vehicle mandate, meaning we are truly supporting drivers and industry in making the switch to electric.”

Motorway service areas are strategically important as regularly spaced stopping points along the motorway. Investment here addresses the need for a highly visible and dependable longer-distance charging network to support drivers and to accelerate future EV purchases. The pilot, which is being delivered by National Highways, will help gather evidence to inform the design of a full fund.

Today also sees the launch of a ten-week consultation seeking views from a range of stakeholders including chargepoint operators, motorway service area operators, and electricity suppliers, on where chargers are needed most and how best to design the Rapid Charging Fund.

Alongside the pilot launch, the UK and the US are teaming up to announce a competition to develop green shipping corridors between both countries. The US is the UK’s second largest direct partner when it comes to international maritime trade – with over 40 million tonnes of maritime trade carried out last year. Launching next year, the initiative builds upon the UK’s successful partnerships with the likes of Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, solidifying the journey towards zero-emission shipping.

UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Sarah Treseder said:

“Green shipping corridors will play an important part in decarbonising shipping, especially on major routes such as the UK-US.

“To be successful they require dedicated infrastructure across the corridor to ensure that vessels can access low and zero emission fuels as well as facilities such as shore side power. We look forward to working with the UK and US governments, as well those involved in the competition, to turn this project into a blueprint for how to create a successful green corridor.”

Yesterday (5 December) also saw the launch of the world-first Global ZEV Transition Roadmap, designed to improve understanding and accessibility around the international push to de-carbonise road travel, and to more clearly lay out the financing available to developing economies and new markets. It commits to an annual update at future COP events, helping to map the transition to cleaner travel on a global scale and ensure no country is left behind.

It comes in the same week that the House of Commons agreed (December 4) the percentage of new zero emission cars and vans manufacturers will be required to produce each year up to 2030.

COP28 UAE takes place from 30 November to 12 December 2023 at Expo City, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The United Nations Climate Change Conferences are yearly conferences and serve as the formal meeting to negotiate and agree action on how to tackle climate change, limit emissions and halt global warming.

Thursday’s Transport Day comes just a week after the first ever transatlantic 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) flight from London to New York. The Transport Secretary has a full schedule for the day, attending Pavilion events and other engagements discussing the ZEV mandate, zero emission shipping, sustainable aviation and climate-resilient transport.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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