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Strategic support for energy efficiency and sustainability

Socket to me

06/07/2021 12:32:06

news story imageThree years ago this month the Department for Transport, DfT, produced a report entitled ‘The Road to Zero Strategy’.  This outlined how the Government would support the transition to zero-emission road transport in England and Wales by 2040.  Part of this was that all new homes should be electric vehicle ready.  The following year, 2019, the DfT issued a consultation on requirements for every new home to have an electric vehicle charge point, which also discussed minimum requirements for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in non-residential buildings.

Now, in July 2021, there is still no formal guidance or standard for charging requirements in newbuilds, although we are promised a new Building Regulations Approved Document “soon”.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and technological improvements in charging infrastructure are coming on apace.  But the electric car market is growing exponentially, and private charging infrastructure is not keeping up with this.  This is causing issues with inconsistent, ad hoc and local-level decisions on what is deemed suitable or even compulsory.  This in turn creates confusion for housebuilders, as well as accessibility and safety issues on pavements with cables run to vehicles from private dwellings or badly positioned pavement chargers.

On the up-side, there is an ever-increasing array of potential charging solutions, both shared and dedicated, such as charge points on new street lights, charge pads in the ground and pop-up on-street charge points.  

There is also the wider move away from the necessity of ownership of private vehicles, particularly in urban developments with more and more schemes being promoted as car-free.  Many urban city centres are beginning to consider car-free planning policies, and there is a push on the concept of the ‘liveable neighbourhood’.  The need for a car-based daily commute to a central business district may also have become a casualty of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Any mandate needs to reflect this, and also to recognise the increasing role that e-bikes and e-cargo bikes are playing in the road to net zero.  And over the brow of the hill comes the controversial cavalry on (as yet illegal on roads and pavements) privately owned e-scooters.  It is very apparent that any personal transport charging capability need to be flexible and adaptable. 

So, is the standard individual domestic dwelling with private parking and a dedicated charge point for a private vehicle as progressive as it first appears?  Do we still need a standard for newbuilds?

Charging cars at home overnight using a ‘smart’ charge point will enable vehicles to charge at times of low demand on the electricity system.  As the number of electric vehicles increases alongside the move to heating our homes with electricity, this shift of  demand will become an important consideration.  Therefore, no matter what the public charging infrastructure looks like in the future, home charging of some type of electric vehicle certainly seems to have an important role to play within the wider system.  


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