Widening EV rollout and adoption: A networks perspective
Earlier this year I took part in a panel session at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum on ‘Widening EV rollout and adoption’ where a wide range of areas were discussed – from developing the market and industrial base to addressing cost and commercialisation challenges, to building national charging capacity.
From a networks perspective, we fully support the 2030 target to phase out the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars, and networks are working to connect new EV charge points as quickly as possible for the public. The thirst for EVs is growly quickly too, with government hailing another major milestone yesterday for the UK EV market, as official sales figures confirmed there are now over half a million zero emission cars on the roads.
There were many interesting points from the event, but three key areas of interest came across from my perspective:
- Collaboration is essential: As a member-led organisation and voice of the networks, ENA is used to working collaboratively to reach a common goal, and the same stands here. We are proud to be a part of Government’s industry-wide EV Energy Taskforce and we are constantly learning from and working closer with the transport industry. We can no longer think in silos: collaboration needs to come from both the private and public sector, and consideration needs to be given on both a national and a local level. For example, some of our members have started embedding people into Local Authorities and Local Authority Energy Planning teams. We also cannot just think about EVs - Hydrogen will also play a key role for certain transport sectors, and hence we must take a whole energy systems approach to decarbonisation.
- A range of solutions is key: From a networks perspective, we are going to need a ‘toolbox’ of solutions to support mass EV uptake, including flexibility and strategic investment. Investment will also be needed across the different parts of the industry, whether it’s in the networks - such as RIIO-2 Business Plans, Project Rapid or ENA’s Green Recovery scheme, in public EV charging infrastructure or in the form of consumer incentivisation – such as Government, manufacturer or employer (like EV salary sacrifice) schemes. It’s a reciprocal eco-system, and we need to have a long-term mindset for this to work properly.
- Education is crucial: From consumers to car dealers, it’s important that people receive and provide the correct information to be able to make informed choices and provide influence. For example, there are common misconceptions about the battery life and general lifecycle of an EV, upfront and running costs and the amount of public charging infrastructure that is available. The rapid evolution and growth in the EV sector means that there’s constant movement in all of these areas, so it’s vital that industry leaders guide the way in sharing fact, not fallacy.
At ENA, we cover a range of different areas, from strategy and regulatory aspects to technical processes and connections procedures, to ensure that the networks fully support and enable the EV rollout for customers in a way that is cost-effective and equitable to customers.
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About the author
Randolph Brazier is the Director of Innovation & Electricity Systems at the Energy Networks Association, and has over ten years of experience in the electricity and energy sector in the UK, Europe and Australia. Randolph has an M.Phil in Engineering for Sustainable Development from the University of Cambridge and has presented at a wide range of events and conferences.