Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure: Current State and Future Plans

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Written By Jasmine Young

Jasmine Young is a passionate writer and researcher specializing in battery technology, with a keen interest in its applications across various industries and its role in shaping a sustainable energy future.

As electric vehicles (EVs) become increasingly popular and affordable, EV charging infrastructure is crucial to support market growth. Governments around the world are facilitating investment in EV charging infrastructure to support the phase-out of internal combustion engine vehicles and achieve net zero emissions targets. This article discusses the current state of EV charging infrastructure globally and highlights the UK’s £1 billion plan to increase the number of charging points in the country as part of its net zero goals.

Introduction

Electric vehicles offer a cleaner and more sustainable transportation solution, but their widespread adoption is impeded by insufficient charging infrastructure. As more consumers choose to drive electric cars, the need for reliable, accessible charging infrastructure becomes even more pressing. Governments and stakeholders must work together to ensure a robust EV charging infrastructure is in place to support and encourage further adoption.

In this article, we will begin by examining the current state of EV charging infrastructure worldwide. We will then explore the UK’s plan to invest £1 billion in EV charging infrastructure and end petrol and diesel car sales by 2030. We will investigate the challenges and opportunities of building out EV charging infrastructure and conclude by discussing the importance of continued investment in EV charging infrastructure.

Current State of EV Charging Infrastructure

As of 2021, there were nearly 1.8 million charging points worldwide, with a third being fast chargers. China has the largest number of publicly available chargers, with slow charging installations in China, the US, and Europe increasing in 2021. However, improvements are needed to meet the European Union’s recommendations for charger availability.

In Europe, progress in EV charging infrastructure rollout varies significantly between member states. The EV-per-charger ratio ranges from one per two EVs in the EU-27 to one per seven in the UK, highlighting the importance of infrastructure procurement. Europe’s alternative fuel infrastructure directive sets targets for the availability of fast (DC) chargers, level 2 charging, and level 1 charging for electric LDVs by 2025.

In the United States, public charging solutions are deployed unevenly, with urban dwellers having greater access to public charging points. Investment in EV charging infrastructure is expected to increase with the recent commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the UK, the government aims to promote EV adoption and support the phase-out of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040. In November 2020, the UK government announced its plan to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, 10 years earlier than the initial target. To achieve this target, the government has committed £1 billion from Gridserve to increase the number of charging points in the country. The development of infrastructure for charging EVs requires careful planning and consideration of factors like networking, payment capabilities, and operation and maintenance.

The UK’s Plan for EV Charging Infrastructure

The UK’s plan for EV charging infrastructure is detailed in the government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. The plan aims to create a public charging network that is accessible to all and not just those with off-street parking. The Government has also pledged £500m over the next four years to upgrade the existing public charging network with “tens of thousands” of new chargers in towns and cities across the UK.

The £1 billion investment from Gridserve will be used to build 100 state-of-the-art electric-car forecourts featuring ultra-fast charging and battery storage systems, catering to both private and commercial EV drivers. To encourage the uptake of EVs among private motorists, the government will launch a £20m scheme to incentivize EV ownership and reduce the costs of affordable charging. The move will enable people in rented accommodation to charge their EVs in their communities, benefiting those who do not have access to off-street parking.

To encourage the uptake of EVs among commercial fleets and logistics providers, the UK government has pledged £70m of funding to support the electrification of HGVs and accelerate the deployment of charging infrastructure across strategic roads. The Road to Zero Strategy outlines how the UK can achieve zero tailpipe emissions from road transport by 2040. As part of the strategy, the government will invest in charging infrastructure for EVs and alternative-fuel vehicles such as HGVs.

Challenges and Opportunities

The broader challenge in building out EV charging infrastructure is creating an inclusive rollout. In the UK, the cost of expanding the charging network is estimated to be £18bn, requiring significant investment. However, investing in EV charging infrastructure can lead to significant long-term benefits, such as reduced fuel costs, lower emissions, and increased air quality. Additionally, technological advancements will reduce ownership costs by 2022, further increasing the attractiveness of EVs.

One opportunity for businesses to take advantage of incentives to install workplace charging points. The government provides grants of up to £350 per charging station to help with the cost of installation. With more companies supporting EV adoption, the demand for public charging infrastructure will continue to grow.

Charge-point operators might need to coordinate with electric utilities to address the predicted power demands. As EV adoption increases, so does the demand for electricity, and this will require energy companies to consider the role of EV charging in their renewable-energy and carbon-neutrality strategies.

In recent years, there has been a significant rise in micro-mobility options such as e-bikes and e-scooters, aimed at short-distance travel and ride-sharing. These options help city dwellers save time, decreased congestion, and addressed growing environmental concerns. However, they may require a different charging infrastructure than traditional EVs.

Other challenges include:
– Addressing charging time and adequacy of range
– Ensuring the availability of charging equipment at residential and commercial locations
– Improving payment capabilities and reducing costs of EV charging
– Creating comprehensive charging networks that cover all geographic locations

Conclusion

As EV adoption increases and the demand for public charging infrastructure continues to grow worldwide, governments must facilitate investment in EV charging infrastructure to support market growth. The £1 billion investment in EV charging infrastructure by the UK government is a significant step towards achieving its net zero goals. However, more investment is needed to create an inclusive rollout and support continued EV sales growth.

Investing in EV charging infrastructure can offer significant long-term benefits such as reduced fuel costs, lower emissions, and increased air quality. As technological advancements reduce the costs of ownership and more companies support EV adoption, the demand for public charging infrastructure will continue to grow.

To meet the challenges of building out EV charging infrastructure, stakeholders must coordinate with electric utilities and ensure a comprehensive charging network that covers all geographic locations. Governments must also create policies that incentivize investment in EV charging infrastructure and address the broader social and equity implications of a transition to EVs.