Location data needed to help build optimal charging network for EVs

The Geospatial Commission has published a report to help local authorities make decisions about where to install electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints in their areas.

Given the sluggish pace at which the government is rolling out new chargers, the UK is expected to miss its target of having six or more rapid or ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers at every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023.

The location of chargepoints is as important as the absolute number, as well-located chargers give drivers the confidence that they will not run out of battery power on longer journeys. The new report identifies five opportunities to better use existing location data so that chargers can be optimally placed.

This includes improving understanding of the location of existing chargepoints, consumer charging behaviour and travel patterns, and identifying the location of EVs by using commercially-held data about leased vehicles.

It also calls for electricity network operator data to be used to understand when and where the energy grid might have spare capacity.

Ultimately, the report says that drivers should have the same level of confidence that they can charge their EV as petrol and diesel drivers have around accessing petrol stations.

By 2030, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be phased out, and by 2035 all new cars and vans will be zero emission.

Science minister Viscount Camrose said: “The transition to electric vehicles is central to the government’s plan to decarbonise the transport sector, keep the UK at the forefront of clean transport and tackle pollution, all while seizing the potential for growth and job creation in the UK’s growing EV industry.

“Local authorities and the wider sector should continue to embrace new location data and analysis to accelerate the targeted rollout of chargepoints so that drivers can find and access reliable chargepoints wherever they live.”

The Geospatial Commission said that local authorities are “ideally placed” to identify local charging needs and ensure all communities have access to reliable public charging infrastructure.

Steve Ward, decarbonisation programme manager at Transport for Wales, said: “Good quality location data is essential to us helping the public and private sectors collaborate to identify and develop sites for electric vehicle charging.

“We have worked with datasets from a large number of sources to develop modelling tools that indicate which locations are more suitable for commercially-funded charging facilities, and which could be unlocked by targeting investment in improving electricity supply capacity.”

According to a study by MIT researchers, careful planning of charging stations could actually lessen or eliminate the need for new power plants entirely.

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