UK electric vehicle charging network on the rise but distribution still uneven
The UK’s electric vehicle charging network is at its highest-ever level but geographical distribution remains patchy.
There were 20,775 public electric vehicle charging devices available in the UK in Q4 2020, according to recently published Department for Transport information. This is up 6.6% on the figure of 19,487 for the previous quarter and a rise of more than a quarter (25.9%) on the 16,505 devices in Q4 2019.
Rapid charging devices have also grown quickly, increasing by 37% in the last year to reach a total of 3,880 in Q4 2020.
And device availability is also improving; in Q4 2020, 1,288 more devices were available in total, up 7% on the previous quarter. Of this, 350 were rapid devices.
But the Department for Transport analysis finds there is uneven geographical distribution of charging devices within the UK, with councils’ and individual districts’ total devices and devices for 100,000 population figures varying wildly.
As might be expected, London has the highest level of charging device provision per 100,000 of population but is slightly below average in terms of rapid charging device provision. Scotland is above average in total devices per 100,000 and has the highest level of rapid device provision.
The DfT adds that while some UK local authorities have bid for UK Government funding for charging devices, others have not, and charging devices have largely been funded by private sector investment, with individual charging networks and other businesses, such as hotels, choosing where to install them.
The Government is continuing to call for local authorities to take up funding to deploy much-needed on-street charge points; it recently announced an extra £20m in funding to continue the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) into 2021/22, which could double the UK’s number of on-street charge points to nearly 8,000.
However, research published last week by the National Audit Office (NAO) said local authorities had told the NAO that the ORCS scheme had been designed without sufficient consultation and as a result it was difficult to bid for funding. With the NAO analysis indicating there is a “long way to go” to meet UK EV targets, the NAO has called on the Government to work with relevant departments to look at which initiatives have gone well and better target its interventions on the switch to zero-emission vehicles.
Separately, the Electric Vehicle Association England has asked drivers for their views on the current state of public charging to help shape future developments. EVA England will use the feedback from a new survey to shape its response to the current consultation from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), exploring ways to improve the experience for electric vehicle drivers at public charge points.