electric vehicle charging

EV infrastructure roll-out reveals huge regional variations due to funding gaps

Image credit: Dreamstime

The number of public charge points for electric vehicles in the UK increased by 37 per cent last year, but there are vast regional discrepancies across the country with some local authorities failing to apply for government funding, new data has revealed.

According to data published by the Department for Transport (DfT) last week, 7,600 new charger installations were added to the UK’s network last year, taking the total to 28,375 public plug-in points.

Since the figures were last updated in October 2021, an additional 2,448 charging points were installed, marking a 9 per cent increase. However, the DfT acknowledged that there was an “uneven geographical distribution of charging devices within the UK”.

For example, in London - as of January 1 2022 - there were 102 public charging devices per 100,000 people, while in the North West there were just 24 charging devices per 100,000 people.

Scotland had the second-highest level of charging provision with 52 devices per 100,000 and Northern Ireland had the lowest level in the UK with just 18 devices per 100,000.

The average provision in the UK was 42 devices per 100,000 people.

Up to £20m is available for local authorities under a scheme run by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, but the DfT noted that “some UK local authorities have bid for UK government funding for charging devices and others have not”.

Luke Osborne, energy and emerging technologies solutions advisor at trade body the ECA, said it was “disappointing” that a number of local authorities had not applied for the extra money on offer because it could aid them and their constituents “in gaining the vital charging infrastructure required”.

He added: “However, it should be recognised that local authorities are often under-resourced and the right persons or departments may not have been made aware of the funding opportunities. Perhaps clearer messaging is required between government and local authorities”.

In research carried out by the ECA last November, more than half (52 per cent) of local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland said electric vehicle charge points were prohibitively expensive to install.

The ECA also found that two-thirds of local authorities had no electric vehicle charging strategy in place.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC), advisers to the government, estimate that to grow the UK’s electric vehicle fleet to 23.2 million by 2032, 325,000 public charging points will be needed. This would represent an 11-fold increase in 10 years.

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