Motorist have highlighted their anxieties of Electric Vehicles’ (EV) driving range as the main reason not to buy one. Bold infrastructure changes are needed for Electric Vehicles (EV) to address motorist concerns, so that EV can become a viable alternative for travelling longer distances. National Grid might have just made the breakthrough needed. Their latest plans have identified 50 strategic spots to install ultra-fast electric vehicle charging points along the UK motorway network. Each strategic ultra-fast charger will put 90% of drivers within a 50-mile range of a charging point.
The ultra-fast charging points have the potential to not only be quicker than current chargers, but will beat the petrol cars at petrol stations. A conventional gas guzzler usually takes 7 minutes to fill its tank with unleaded petrol. National Grid plan to build 350 KW chargers capable of fully charging some batteries in just five minutes. Much quicker than the 20-40 minutes EV drivers are currently experiencing.
National Grid plan to overlay the super-fast charging points network over the high voltage transmission network, rather than relying on local grids. The roll out of the charging points will be structured and coordinated, so that drivers can experience the quickest charging but also prevent local power shortages. National Grid hopes that these changes will apply not only to cars but for light goods vehicles and trucks in the future.
So, will these new charging points dispel long held concerns over EV’s practicality and open up the floodgates? In reality, they might solve one part of the puzzle. Other issues still need to be addressed, such as where the energy is being generated from originally before making its way to the transmission networks. China has the highest EV use in the world, with 600,000 new EV vehicles purchased last year. However, two thirds of its electricity is produced from coal. EV has to run on low carbon energy otherwise we are just adding fuel to the coal fire.
National Grid’s thought leadership on Ultra-Fast EV Charging points comes at an important moment.
EV charge points will soon become mandatory at all large petrol stations and motorway services, with the Government ramping up plans to make EVs the go-to choice amid air quality and European Union CO2 targets. Drivers are not looking for short term fixes, like a smartphone power pack, but substantial infrastructure providing an easily accessible, fast and reliable charging services.
The vision set out is based on the natural synergy between the transmission network and motorway network, with the high voltage network meeting the future energy demand of the motorway network with ultra-fast charging, rather than draining the local grids.
These plans have been driven by big picture thinking, not piecemeal, individualised solutions. This is exactly what the market needs now. For EVs to become the norm for personal travel and logistics in the UK, the sector needs to identify more synergies as well as an understanding that this revolution will require a once in a generation level of infrastructure investment.