Electric Vehicle movement on the charge!
It could be easy to forget about positive developments taking place, particularly in relation to the built environment and how we go about our lives, writes Greg Hilton, a Partner in Carter Jonas’s Energy team, Cambridge.
But progress is being made, with some of these advancements presenting landowners, developers and the community at large with new opportunities and benefits.
The world concerning electric vehicles (EVs) is a case in point. The advantages of EVs over conventional petrol/diesel cars has long been discussed, including improvements to air quality and the health benefits that come with this.
To mark their importance, September saw the first World EV Day – billed as a simple yet effective concept, to celebrate EV ownership worldwide.
Observing the occasion, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced £12 million in funding to propel ground-breaking EV research. Later in the month, official figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) showed that 33,000 pure electric and hybrid vehicles were registered between April and June, compared with 29,900 diesel vehicles.
According to the DfT, this was the first time that more alternative fuels cars than diesel cars were registered in three months. This comes at a time when the Government is looking to boost measures to ensure that all new cars and vans are ultra-low emission.
In February 2020, it released plans to bring forward the end to the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans from 2040 to 2035, or earlier if feasible. A consultation that launched on the matter finished on 31 July. Many MPs are now applying significant pressure for this target to be changed to as early as 2030, for the UK to align with other countries within Europe.
To serve the increasing numbers of EVs already on the road, and future targets, a step-change in the availability of charging infrastructure is required, presenting a range of opportunities for landowners and developers.
Dwell time is key to identifying the right charger capacity for any site. The range of charging technology infrastructure available varies from 3kW to 350kW.
These can charge vehicles from empty to full between 30 minutes and 12 hours depending on the battery size. Lower capacity infrastructure charges over a longer period.
Higher capacity infrastructure that provides a speedier way to top up is typically found on motorways and A-roads – though the cost of the charge point is much greater than those producing charge over a longer period.
Faster charging stations also require additional grid infrastructure and this is often competing with other sources of demand or generation on the network.
There are three distinct categories: Roadside (Electric Forecourt); Workplace and Visitor Attractions and Residential/Commercial Development.
Electric Forecourt is essentially a 21st-century filling station, offering ultra-rapid charging, with an ability to charge a full vehicle battery from empty within 30 minutes.
Suitable sites are between 0.5 and 2.5 acres, require road frontage adjacent to the strategic highway, with over 20,000 vehicle movements, have an appropriate grid connection and limited planning constraints on or adjacent to the site.
There are often renewables, including solar PV and battery storage, on-site or adjacent, to reduce the site's reliance on the National Grid at peak times and to ensure the security of supply.
Landowners could expect to receive up to £100,000/annum to lease the land to a developer over a 20-30-year term, whilst also contributing to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals and future-proofing the road network for a dramatic increase in EVs year on year.
Visitor attraction sites relate to dedicated parking spaces for staff or customers, offering fast or rapid charging, with an ability to charge a full vehicle battery in one to four hours.
Suitable sites are those with parking for staff, fleet vehicles or visitors. Examples include fast food and coffee outlets, leisure, retail parks, theme parks, supermarkets, offices, and commercial buildings.
Landowners could expect to receive an income whilst futureproofing / diversifying their business potentially helping them to stay ahead of the competition and attract a greater number of visitors.
Residential and commercial development sites offer slower chargers. Fitted on driveways, residential streets and within commercial property developments, they are typically used for home charging overnight, or whilst at work. Slow chargers can charge a battery from empty in around 12 hours.
Most residential or commercial property development is viable provided there is sufficient grid capacity on-site, including large employers, companies with large EV fleets, hotel chains and multi-storey car parks.
Landowners can expect to achieve charging at a reduced rate, paying more like 14p/kWh versus up to 35p/kWh charging en-route. Grants are available to encourage the implementation of charging, especially on new housing and commercial developments, and it is becoming increasingly common for conditions to be imposed on new planning consents to demand that EV charging infrastructure is installed.
As well as presenting an opportunity for income generation, other benefits for reducing reliance on fossil fuels are well-established. However, competition for grid connection is common, as more decentralised generation connects to the network across the UK.
Couple this with there being a finite number of opportunities in strategic locations means that those acting on the opportunity now will gain a ‘first-mover advantage’.