The number of charging stations in the UK for battery-powered vehicles (BPVs) is set to overtake traditional petrol stations by August 2020 following an announcement by Chancellor Philp Hammond in his Autumn Statement.
The Government has set aside £390 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund to boost battery vehicles and driverless technology. The £390 million funding, includes: –
- £100 million investment in testing infrastructure for driverless cars;
- £150 million to provide at least 550 new electric and hydrogen buses, reduce the emissions of 1,500 existing buses and support taxis to become zero emission; and
- £80 million to install more charging points for ultra-low emission vehicles.
The announcement follows the Government’s prediction that Britain needs 9% of cars sold by 2020 to be ultra-low emission to be on track to hit its legally mandated emissions targets by 2020, so the announcement on additional charging points is viewed as being central to meeting these targets.
But just 3% of cars sold in Britain last year were alternative fuel models – primarily plug-in hybrid and BPVs – although sales have risen 23% so far this year.
And growing numbers of analysts are predicting demand for BPVs could accelerate sharply in the coming years as upfront costs continue to fall and battery ranges increase to a point where it becomes more cost effective to operate a zero emission vehicle than a traditional car.
However, dwindling government support for renewable energy production has led critics to question the role of EVs if clean energy is not used to power them.
The announcement is not only welcomed by the fast-expanding green car sector; the hospitality and retail sectors – particularly those strategically located off major highways – are also predicted to experience increased revenues as a result of the additional custom generated from BPV drivers whilst charging their vehicles.
Meanwhile, the proposal for a new EU electricity market design that the European Commission is due to unveil on Wednesday (30 November) as part of a Winter Package of Energy Union legislation could put consumers in the driving seat.
The goal is to create a market fit for a growing share of power from intermittent renewable sources, chiefly wind and solar. Coinciding with rapid progress in the development of rechargeable batteries and BPVs, this could signal a rapid growth in the role storage plays in the power grid of the future.
Hans Ten Berge, secretary-general of Eurelectric, the EU electricity industry association, commented: “At the end of the day, one of the best capacity providers might come from household batteries.
“A battery might give you the capacity needed when the sun is out or the wind not blowing.”
Iain Baird is an Associate at MacRoberts LLP.