Britain’s EV charging infrastructure needs a rethink

"I don't believe the grid at the moment has the infrastructure and the power available at the time that it's going to be needed"

The chief executive of a motorways services has warned that the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure will fall short of keeping up with the rising number of EV owners, with the lack of power capacity for charge points as a “major problem” facing the electric vehicle industry.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Ken McMeikan revealed that several charge points at four Moto Hospitality, which operates motorway service stations across the UK, are “sitting there with no power”, leaving EV drivers unable to use them.

He said: “Getting the right number of chargers is not a challenge. Getting enough power for those chargers to actually operate well enough for EV drivers is a major, major problem.”

He referred to the government’s target of achieving net zero by 2030, which included the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 in a bid to encourage people to switch to electric vehicles.

> PM Sunak confirms dialogue with EU over threat to UK’s EV industry

Earlier this week, PM Rishi Sunak and the Tory Government’s commitment to net-zero was questioned as he announced at least 100 new oil and sea gas licences alongside a new carbon capture scheme in north-east Scotland. However, he has reaffirmed that the ban still remains in place, amidst more than 40 Conservative MPs and peers writing to the Prime Minister to push back the deadline.

McMeikan said: “There was a target set for the number of chargers by the end of 2023 that there would be at each motorway service area and that was a minimum of six.

“Sadly what there hasn’t been is a target set for the power companies of the amount of power that’s going to be required to operate those chargers and also a time commitment for the power companies of when that power would be made available ready for those chargers to start to operate.

“We have got a situation… where we’ve put sufficient chargers on four of our motorway service areas and the power required once the chargers were put in place is not available. So EV drivers are turning up to motorway services at four of our locations and there are chargers sitting there but no power.”

> New EU law will see fast chargers every 60km on highways by 2025

McMeikan said that by 2030, around one in four or one in three motorists would be arriving at service stations in an electric vehicle, requiring the equivalent of “a quarter of all the power output from an average-sized nuclear power station”.

With the scale of power required likely to be 12 times what it is today, he said that he does not think there will be enough power for chargers by 2030.

“I don’t believe the grid at the moment has the infrastructure and the power available at the time that it’s going to be needed,” McMeikan said.

“What the government needs to do is they need to set targets on a year by year basis, side by side, region by region, to ensure that there is sufficient power to be able to operate the chargers.”

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