Speaking on COP28 Transport Day in Dubai, UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper laid out plans for up to ten trial sites in England with boosted electrical network capacity – ensuring electricity network capacity is future-proofed for at least ten years, to 2035. The £70 million pilot scheme will power up UK motorway service areas to pave the way for ultra-rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints and spark private investment.
The announcement is part of the Government’s ambitious Rapid Charging Fund and 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.
“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,” said UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper. “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.”
Motorway service areas are strategically important as regularly spaced stopping points along the UK’s motorways. 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.
“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,” said Technology and Decarbonisation Minister Anthony Browne. “The scheme follows our world-leading zero emission vehicle mandate, meaning we are truly supporting drivers and industry in making the switch to electric.”
Also announced was 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.
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.