Britain’s electric vehicle charging network to become bigger and faster thanks to £300m boost

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The UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure network is about to get bigger and faster thanks to a £300m investment that will see 1,800 new ultra-rapid charge points, tripling the current network of 918 across the country.

Ofgem, the government regulator for gas and electricity markets in Great Britain, announced the funding boost with 39 motorway service areas and key trunk road locations across the country set to get the cabling they need to install the new ultra-rapid charge points.

A further 1,750 charge points will be supported in towns and cities. As drivers make the switch from petrol and diesel to electric, Britain’s cables, substations and other infrastructure need a massive upgrade to support this new demand for electricity.

The investment will be delivered in the next two years and is part of a much bigger plan to ensure Britain has the energy infrastructure it needs to support the move to low carbon transport and heating while maintaining secure supplies. The magnitude of this investment is expected to be in the order of over £40 billion through Ofgem’s regulation of energy networks.

Every region in Britain will benefit from today’s announcement, with 204 net zero projects worth £300.5 million across England, Scotland and Wales. These shovel-ready, low carbon projects start this year, supporting clean transport and heat, and opening up local electricity grids to take on more low carbon generation.

While electric car ownership is on the rise, Ofgem research has found that 36% of households that do not intend to get an electric vehicle are put off making the switch over a lack of charging points near their home. An extensive motorway charging network and more charging points in cities and train stations will help address this ‘range anxiety’, so Ofgem is accelerating investment to boost charge point installation.

Cities like Glasgow, Kirkwall, Warrington, Llandudno, York and Truro will benefit from increased network capacity to support more ultra-rapid charge points, increased renewable electricity generation and the move to more electric heating for homes and businesses. Investment also covers more rural areas with charging points for commuters at train stations in North and Mid Wales and the electrification of the Windermere ferry.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem said:

“This £300 million down payment is just the start of building back a greener energy network which will see well over £40 billion of investment in Britain’s energy networks in the next seven years.

“The payment will support the rapid take up of electric vehicles which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets. Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to. We’re paving the way for the installation of 1,800 ultra-rapid charge points, tripling the number of these public charge points. Drivers will have more charging options for longer journeys.

“In the year that Glasgow hosts the COP26 climate summit, the energy networks are rising to the challenge and working with us and partners to accelerate projects that can start now, benefiting consumers, boosting the economy and creating jobs.”

The UK Government’s target is to have at least six high powered, open access charge points at motorway service areas in England, with more for larger sites.

Ofgem, the Energy Networks Association and each of the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) launched a call for evidence in February for energy networks to come forward with projects that could help Britain reach net zero emissions faster and support the economy as the country comes out of the pandemic.

Last year, Ofgem announced its greenest ever price control with billions invested into network companies and the system operator from April this year. The regulator has also indicated that it will allow billions more investment and better use of flexible technologies and innovations for the local electricity networks from 2023.

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