Local authorities helping drive the EV revolution

The momentum behind the electric vehicle revolution now seems to be unstoppable. The government is banning new fossil fuel powered cars from 2040 and EV sales are climbing rapidly (as diesels decline). Government policy is supportive through the new Clean Growth and Industrial Strategies, with grants available for installing EV chargers at home and work.

Local Authorities have a key role to play in ensuring they deliver the infrastructure that supports the revolution. We’re working with our parent Swindon Borough Council on an EV charging feasibility study on council assets to ensure this matches residents’ future needs while also being commercially viable. This will include a range of Council stakeholders – from facilities and energy management to economic development – to create a plan which delivers maximum local benefit from the EV transition.

Chargers can be installed in places where you want people to spend time (and money) helping support local businesses or visitor attractions (so-called destination chargers) bringing broader economic benefits. The National Trust has charging points at many of its properties, as do most branches of IKEA – a strategy LAs can learn from.

Residents who can’t charge at home or work (with no off-street or fixed parking spaces) need convenient access to slow chargers so they can refuel overnight. OVO Energy has launched a scheme to install chargers in street lamps in London (where there is obviously already an electrical connection), which could be replicated in other urban areas.

LAs need to offer a range of different charging speeds, matched to the needs of the driver and the location. For slow overnight charging in residential areas, 3 kW is enough, but people will also need to be able to rapid charge (50kW or more) occasionally so some of these should be strategically placed to accommodate both local EV owners and those on long distance journeys. For destination chargers, such as at the cinema or a Park and Ride, a 7kW charger which will take a few hours to fully recharge a battery, is appropriate.

Parking and charging rules need to be rigorously enforced to ensure drivers always have access to a working charger and are not blocked by non-EV drivers. A fair pricing structure also needs to be implemented.

And then there’s the power to charge the vehicles. Swindon aims to install enough renewables to supply the equivalent of every household in the borough by 2020 – and our innovative solar farms and battery storage are setting the standard for many other public sector organisations. The rapid growth of renewables on the UK grid means that wherever you are, your power source is already almost 30% renewable. We’re also really excited about installing solar car ports and canopies – where solar panels, coupled with battery storage, will ensure that Swindon’s EV owners can get a renewable charge, whatever the time of day or the weather.

Taking all these factors into account, PPS is coordinating both with SBC and local businesses to come up with a commercial proposition that fits the council’s aspirations; this is a service we can also offer to other Local Authorities looking to embrace the EV revolution.

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