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Electric vehicle charging should mostly happen at home - Government

Electric vehicle charging should largely happen at home as it’s convenient and best for the energy system, the government says.

Putting a charging point on every street corner was “not the right approach”, said Transport Secretary Philip Hammond. His comments came as he published the government’s vision for recharging infrastructure as part of its £400m programme to support ultra-low emission vehicles.

The strategy outlined support for plug-in vehicle infrastructure through;

- Ensuring plug-in vehicles are an attractive choice for the motorist;

- Making it easier for private enterprise to provide recharging infrastructure by removing regulatory barriers;

- Proposing the inclusion of policy on plug-in vehicle infrastructure in the National Planning Policy Framework, due for consultation next month.

Hammond said: “The ability to re-charge is a key part of the jigsaw in supporting the growth of the electric vehicle market. It is crucial therefore that we make the process as simple as possible.

“Public charge points are part of the answer but putting a charge point 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.

“This strategy will help maintain the UK as a global leader in the design, production and use of electric and ultra-low emission cars and at the forefront of efforts to decarbonise motoring,” Hammond said.

Business minister Mark Prisk said: “The UK wants to be a world-leader in ultra-low carbon technology and today’s strategy is the next step in our achievement of that aim.”

Last year the Royal Academy of Engineering carried out a major study into the implications of large-scale rollout of electric vehicles, which identified important infrastructure challenges that would have to be overcome before a widespread market for plug-in cars could develop. The academy and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said they were pleased the strategy addressed the issues.

Professor Roger Kemp, a fellow of the IET and the academy, 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.” Professor Kemp said the strategy document addressed “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,” Professor Kemp said.

Further reading:

Read the government’s report, Making the Connection: the Plug-in Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy.

See E&T’s story about the IET’s new Code of Practice for Electric Vehicle charging-points.

Check out the Royal Academy of Engineering’s study into the implications of large-scale rollout of electric vehicles, Electric Vehicles: charged with potential.

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