We had a great session on Friday at Highways UK with Dominic Taylor from Arup, Malcolm Wilkinson from Highways England and Karl Semple from Sheffield City Region on what the UK’s EV charging network would look like in 2030.

Interesting points which came out of the session included;

  • Defining the role of the public and private sectors in rolling out the infrastructure. The public sector needs to get to Net Zero but it needs the private sector to provide a lot of the investment.
  • We discussed concerns around an EV focus when in due course, there may be other sustainable transport solutions e.g. hydrogen.  Everyone agreed hydrogen has a role to play but most considered this to be in the heavier freight market and public transport ( with the exception perhaps of emergency vehicles that need to operate 24/7 )
  • Leaving EV stations and rollout to the private sector comes with the risk that it may not always lead to the best solution. Private investment is driven by business model returns and that might mean that some of the infrastructure we need e.g. fast but not rapid charging in and around cities, may not be forthcoming.
  • General agreement that the customer experience is still being developed and will be different to that we currently get when refuelling
  • Covid and the green recovery has, if anything, accelerated the move to EV rollout and Net Zero solutions and it has shown people what the benefits of cleaner air are. There may have been a modal shift and a recognition that the green economy can provide a long term route through the troubled waters
  • It is still not entirely clear how much of the infrastructure cost the consumer will ultimately be picking up. If we have a system of rapid chargers the grid upgrades will need to be paid for
  • We need to be bold on EV infrastructure roll outs and recognise we may not  get the perfect solution immediately and in fact, there will be failures. We need to embrace these and learn from them. That said, we must make sure that the customer is brought along with the process so that they understand what is trying to be achieved and accept the hiccups along the way
  • The perfect EV infrastructure solution is made up of a number of facets such as EV range and cost, battery size, behavioural change, DNO/Grid upgrades, the environmental impact of batteries, charging time and the cost of charging. If we focus too heavily on one aspect it can imbalance the optimal solution

I would like to thank the organisers and speakers for their fantastic contribution.