ECONOMY

UK regulator to lower grid connection costs for EV charging

Electric vehicles updates

Britain’s energy regulator has promised to tackle one of the major barriers to installing more electric vehicle chargers along key trunk roads in the UK by making it cheaper for charging stations to connect to the electricity grid.

Motorway service operations have long complained that Britain’s energy networks are stifling the rollout of EV charging facilities by quoting up to tens of millions of pounds for the new connections required to deliver high speed charging. This is because local grids often need to be reinforced to accommodate the greater demand for electricity.

Ofgem promised in an electric vehicles strategy published on Saturday to bring down the costs of connecting to local grids for “large electricity users”, such as charging station operators, “where reinforcement is required”.

The regulator proposed the bill would be met by local electricity network operators, whose costs are later recovered via network charges on consumer energy bills.

The Competition and Markets Authority warned in a report in July that these “costly increases in grid capacity” were a “major barrier” to ensuring there are sufficient chargers at motorway services, which is seen as critical to overcoming “range anxiety” among drivers who worry about topping up their batteries during long journeys.

UK ministers have agreed a 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans as they seek to slash transport emissions. The CMA has warned that 10 times the current number of public chargers will be needed to support the shift to EVs, also at locations including residential streets and supermarkets. There are currently just over 25,000 public charging devices in the UK.

Ofgem called the move “an important change that will enable a greater number of people to have access to charge points where they need them”. It also pledged to make sure that the energy network would be “prepared” for the increased uptake of EVs in coming years.

V experts said the plan would help both motorway services operators and businesses with large vehicle fleets that want to switch from petrol and diesel.

It could also benefit companies and local authorities looking to install charging hubs in towns and cities for households that do not have access to off-street parking, they said

Toddington Harper, founder and chief executive of Gridserve, which last year opened Britain’s first forecourt dedicated solely to EVs, said that the costs of reinforcing electricity grids “can be prohibitively expensive in some areas”, making it “challenging to deliver high power electric vehicle charging in every location that is required throughout the UK”.

“By reimbursing these costs through ongoing network charges paid by all users of the distribution system, this creates the opportunity to deliver charging infrastructure in many additional locations,” Harper added.

John Diviney, chief executive of the motorway services operator Welcome Break, called the proposal a “very positive development for charging on the motorway network”, adding connection costs have been “a real impediment to investing” in expanding charging facilities.

Motorway services group RoadChef said: “Any moves that can be made to speed up, simplify and reduce the costs of accessing the significant additional power supply that high power EV charging provision will require will benefit the EV revolution”.

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