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Recent developments regarding electric vehicles and charging infrastructure

Highlighting some of the interesting recent developments in the steady rise in the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK.

In particular, the recent announcements relating to the role and involvement of local authorities in the roll-out of charging infrastructure in the UK, evidencing the key part that local authorities have to play in the planning and installation of EV charge points, and the importance of their collaboration with private sector investors and developers.

We also note an exciting advance in the development of vehicle-to-grid technology in the UK.

EVs and the role of local authorities — the LEVI pilot scheme

On 24 August 2022, the UK Government announced that £10 million in initial funding had been awarded to nine local authorities in England which had applied to the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) pilot scheme, a scheme launched by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV).

The UK Government recognises that to support the take-up of EVs (there were more than 520,000 battery electric cars registered in the UK at the end of July 2022), the UK needs to increase the number of EV charge points. The LEVI fund was therefore created by the UK Government, which aims to support the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure across England, and encourage large-scale projects that use significant private sector investment.

42 local authorities applied for the £10 million pilot scheme. The portfolio of successful projects includes different commercial models and technologies, as well as renewable energy and battery storage solutions. Projects also address accessibility and safety for EV users.

A proposed 1,038 charge points will be installed across England, with 300 chargers in pavement channels. The charge points will be a mix of on-street chargers and hubs. Private investment and other public funding sources give the project a total value of £20.5 million

Importantly, support for the successful local authorities includes an EV charging insights toolkit, providing up-to-date data on the projected number of charge points required, the current trajectory for installations, annual revenue and operational costs for the charge points. They will also receive a breakdown of different vehicle types and emissions for their area. This should provide important assistance to local authorities when it comes to planning the deployment of charge points in their area.

The LEVI fund builds on the work being done by the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS). ORCS gives local authorities access to grant funding, that can be used to part-fund the procurement and installation of on-street EV charge point infrastructure for residential needs.

LEVI and ORCS reflect the key role that local authorities will need to play in the roll-out of EV charge points, including ensuring that charge points are integrated into wider local transport and community needs.

Mer and Joju partner with local authority on EV charging roll out

On 1 September 2022 it was announced that charge point operator Mer (owned by Statkraft) and installer Joju Charging are working with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council on the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure.

Over 130 new fast and rapid chargers are to be installed across 34 council-owned carparks in the BCP area. Four sites have been designated for rapid hub installations of eight 50kW-150kW rapid chargers.

Mer is working with Joju Charging to install chargers across the south coast of England, and is also working with the neighbouring councils of Dorset, New Forest and Isle of Wight.

This is a good example of a local authority working with the private sector to deliver local charging infrastructure in its area, and making use of its existing property estate to implement public charging solutions.

Octopus Energy and National Grid ESO demonstrate viability of V2G in Great Britain

It has been announced that Octopus Energy and National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) have for the first time successfully demonstrated the viability of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology in Great Britain.

Using the Balancing Mechanism as a test environment, it has been shown that electric vehicles can receive a direct signal from the ESO to support system balancing. In a series of initial tests in August 2022, it is understood that Octopus charged and discharged the batteries of up to 20 electric vehicles from participating customers at times of grid imbalance.

The tests provide evidence for the benefit of V2G charging. Octopus states that an hour of a million EVs exporting to the grid could generate the same amount of power as 5,500 onshore wind turbines. Octopus analysis states that customers could realise a potential saving of up to £840 per year, compared to unscheduled charging on a flat rate tariff.

Some of the large car manufacturers (such as Volkswagen) have already committed to including V2G technology in their models.

This is an exciting new development, which bears witness to the speed at which EV-related technology is progressing, making a reality of ideas that many saw as being long in the future.

Contact our team of energy solicitors if you would like further advice surrounding electric vehicles or the charging infrastructure