Electric vehicle charging station in public space. The charging spot support by solar panels, storage batteries.

Ofgem approves £300m investment for EV charging expansion

Image credit: Technology © Haiyin/Dreamstime

Energy regulator Ofgem has approved a £300m upgrade into expanding Britain’s electric vehicle charging network.

The watchdog said the funding – which is part of a wider £40bn commitment – will go towards over 200 low-carbon projects to help the country prepare for more electric transport.

Ofgem said it will partly support installing cables needed to launch “1,800 new ultra-rapid charge points” at motorway service areas, tripling the current network.

It added that experts will also install a further 1,750 charging points in towns and cities across Britain. In addition to motorways, cities and train stations will also see increased network capacity to support more charging points.

“The funding will support the rapid take-up of electric vehicles which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets,” said Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem. “Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to.”

Ofgem will direct the upgrade using investment from the Energy Networks Association (ENA), which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy network businesses.

According to Ofgem, the investment, which will take place over the next two years, reflects how Britain’s cables, substations, and other infrastructure “need a massive upgrade” to cope with an expanded surge in demand.

Places such as Glasgow, Kirkwall, Warrington, Llandudno, York, and Truro will benefit from increased network capacity because of the investment, the regulator said.

“In the year that Glasgow hosts the COP26 climate summit, the energy networks are rising to the challenge and working with us and partners to accelerate projects that can start now, benefiting consumers, boosting the economy, and creating jobs,” Brearley added.

Transport minister Rachel Maclean welcomed the news from Ofgem, saying it would improve the resilience of the country’s charging network as “we build back greener.” “With over 500,000 electric cars now on UK roads, this will help to increase this number even further as drivers continue to make the switch to cleaner, greener vehicles,” she added.

Meanwhile, David Smith, chief executive of Energy Networks Association (ENA), said the industry body is delighted to have been able to bring forward such a crucial enabler of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s green recovery ambitions.

“Delivering a green recovery for seas, skies, and streets, over £300m of electricity distribution network investment will enable wide-ranging projects which help tackle some of our biggest net-zero challenges, like EV range anxiety and the decarbonisation of heavier transport,” he said. “This new funding shows the social, economic and environmental benefits industry can bring forward working closely with a flexible regulator.”

Last week, Ofgem published a report which found that around one in four households across the UK plan to buy an electric car or plug-in hybrid in the next five years.

And last February, the energy regulator published its ‘Decarbonisation Action Plan’ which set forth how the energy infrastructure should change to accommodate more electric vehicles and low carbon heating systems.

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