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Government invests £40m to overcome off-street electric-car charging hurdles

Hugo Griffiths 2019-07-09 00:01

Wireless and pop-up pavement chargers to benefit from £37m investment as DfT seeks solutions for drivers with no off-street parking

The Department for Transport is investing £37m in a series of 12 projects that aim to tackle the issue of where drivers who park on the street can charge their electric cars. Wireless charging pads that remove the need for trailing wires, EV chargers that pop up out of the pavement, and a project that will see multiple chargepoints installed in car parks for the “mass charging” of EVs at night are among the schemes to receive funding.

EV charging company Char.gy, which last year installed London’s first lamp post chargers, has been awarded over £2.3 million to develop and deploy wireless chargers on residential streets, while consultants Urban Foresight have won over £3m to roll out a aeries of pop-up chargers that emerge from the kerb. Virgin Media is also involved in the project, and will see its infrastructure leveraged so that charging information and behaviour can be made best use of.

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The DfT is also investigating chargepoints that can deliver “semi-rapid” charging using withot the need for expensive upgrades of electricity substations. “Solar forecourts”, which use capture the sun’s energy to charge groups of EVs, will also receive central investment.

Between 25 and 45 per cent of UK residents have no access to off-street parking, equivalent to at least nine million cars. Charge-point companies will typically not install a home wallbox in properties without a garage or driveway, while households without off-street parking are ineligible for home-charger grants.

Yet the Government plans to ban the sale of all new cars that do not feature some form of electrification by 2040. While full details of this ban are still forthcoming, reports indicate new cars must be capable of covering at least 50 miles in battery-only mode in order to be judged “effectively” zero emission, and remain on sale after this date. Those cars,– essentially plug-in hybrids and EVs – will have to be charged up to make best use of their eco-driving credentials and help the UK meet its official target of being carbon-neutral by 2050.

Air quality in urban areas is another reason for the move towards EVs, but the scarcity of driveways and garages in the UK’s towns and cities, and London in particular, is perceived as a barrier to EV ownership by many. Previous urban projects have seen street lights adapted to offer EV chargers, but charging rates from these tend to be low, while councils prefer to site new lamp posts away from the kerb to improve access for pavement users, resulting in trailing wires on the street.

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All the projects being targeted by the funding have passed three-month feasibility studies, and have emerged as part of the Government’s Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, which seeks to make transport cleaner, easier and safer.

Commenting on the investment, Jack Cousens, the AA’s head of roads policy, said wireless charging “may prove to be the solution for residential streets”, but warned “more needs to be done in the short-term to convince drivers to replace their petrol or diesel vehicle to an electric car.”

Do you think this is money well spent? Let us know in the comment section below…

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