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Government sets out vision for electric vehicle infrastructure

05 July 2011

The Government’s vision for the UK's electric vehicle recharging infrastructure has been set out in a new publication – Making the Connection: the Plug-In Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy - which identifies how recharging infrastructure will develop. The government would like to see the the majority of recharging at home, at night, and after the peak in electricity demand, supported by workplace charging for commuters and fleets, and some 'targeted' public infrastructure.

Transport secretary, Philip Hammond said that the ability to re-charge is key to supporting the growth of the electric vehicle market, and emphasises that the government must make the process as simple as possible. "Public chargepoints are part of the answer but putting a chargepoint on every corner is not the right approach. It is most convenient for drivers and best for the energy system for the majority of charging to happen at home. Electric cars mean getting out of the mentality of needing to travel to a petrol station and into the habit of refuelling when a vehicle is not being used."

The strategy outlines support for plug-in vehicle infrastructure through:
 - Ensuring plug-in vehicles are an attractive choice for the motorist – e.g. ensuring that Britain’s smart metering is implemented so that cars can charge when it’s cheapest for the consumer.
 - Providing comprehensive information through a National Chargepoint Registry so when a motorist needs to use a public chargepoint they know where to find one.
 - Ensuring systems are in place so that all chargepoints can be used by all motorists.
 - Challenging industry to resolve, by the end of the yea,r a range of technical issues that will allow the market to grow in the UK.
 - Making it easier for private enterprise to provide recharging infrastructure by removing regulatory barriers – eg establishing a Permitted Development Right for chargepoints so they no longer need planning permission.
 - Proposing the inclusion of policy on plug-in vehicle infrastructure in the National Planning Policy Framework, due for consultation next month, to encourage local authorities to consider adopting policies to include plug-in vehicle recharging infrastructure in new domestic, workplace and retail developments.

Last year the Royal Academy of Engineering carried out a major study into the implications of large-scale rollout of electric vehicles. This identified important infrastructure challenges that will have to be overcome before a widespread market for plug-in cars can develop.

Professor Roger Kemp of Lancaster University, said: “The side of electric vehicle development most often in the public eye is the launch of new hi-tech vehicles at motor shows, but ensuring a hassle-free adoption of thousands and eventually millions of plug-in cars will require concerted effort on much less spectacular developments. These will include creating UK standard plug and sockets, smartcards and billing arrangements and reducing the bureaucracy needed to install charging points in car parks. The strategy document by OLEV addresses these mundane but essential issues.
“The strategy to encourage charging at home during the night is entirely consistent with the campaign to reduce carbon emissions and, by providing additional night time load on the grid, will make it more attractive to invest in renewable energy technologies.
“The commitment to ensure that the smart metering systems soon to be rolled out include the functionality to support smart charging of plug-in vehicles is good news as it will be an important enabler for the widespread adoption of electric cars.”
Making the Connection: the Plug-In Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy can be found here.

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