Giles Crosse looks at how slow roll-out of charging points could put the brakes on Britain's plan to decarbonize transport by 2040
New registrations of electric vehicles hit a record in 2016, with more than 750,000 sold worldwide, according to the latest statistics from the International Energy Agency. Precipitous growth of 50% a year since 2010 has been driven by falling costs of production and incentives to consumers from policy makers.
This is most notable in the world’s biggest and fastest-growing EV market, China, which is determined to tackle rising air pollution as its burgeoning middle class trade two wheels for four.
Climate change concerns are also a big driver for policy makers, who see electric vehicles as key to tackling transport emissions, which in the UK account for some 28% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Committee on Climate Change.
London’s 33 boroughs are grappling separately with charging issues leading to a piecemeal approach
National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenarios concludes that a third of transport-related emissions could be cut if 36 million EVs were on the streets by 2040, adding 8GW to UK peak electricity demand.
But charging infrastructure in the UK isn't anything like ready for the leap, with only 16,500 charging points to service 150,000 registered EVs, and only one rapid charging connection for every 43 cars.