Powering the capital: delivering a step change in London’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure
25 July 2019
London First hosted the “Powering the capital: delivering a step change in London’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure” event on 25th July 2019, which was sponsored by BP.
Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment at the Greater London Authority, set the sceneby outlining London’s problem with air pollution. Over two million people live in areas with unacceptably high levels of air pollution and the poorest are suffering the most. While the most deprived are least likely to own a car, they are most likely to suffer from the consequences of vehicles on our streets.
Promoting the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in the capital by developing adequate charging infrastructure will be critical in tackling air pollution. And, encouragingly, London is seen as one of the most innovative places when it comes to EVs. Yet, it’s still true that the EV user experience is all too often poor. Vice President of BP, Roy Williamson, emphasised that the key to improving user experience andpromoting the adoption of EVs lies in making usage much more convenient. There is a lot of work to be done here.
Currently, 80% of EV charging happens at home. Further developing charging infrastructure on residential streets and in the car parks of apartment blocks will encourage consumers to make the jump from petrol to electric. But this alone will not be a silver bullet to improving the uptake of EVs. More public charging hubs around London will be needed.
One of the key impediments to the commercial rollout of public EV charging points is the uncertainty around utilisation rates. In the early stages of EV uptake, use of many public charging points could be low. We heard that the private sector is concerned that prospective investments in EV charging infrastructure could end up becoming stranded assets.
De-risking investment in public EV charging will be important. The UK benefits from a large amount of experience in using Government-mandated private capital models to help facilitate investment in infrastructure. One such scheme mentioned during the event was the Thames Tideway Project, where government guarantees helped to de-risk the project for the private sector and lower the cost of capital.
What was clear, however, is that fully worked out solutions to demand-side risks associated with EV public charging points are some way off. That’s why the Mayor of London’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Taskforce is such an important initiative. It is bringing together representatives from business, energy, infrastructure and London boroughs – and has recently published a delivery plan to help produce solutions that will facilitate a healthy EV market.
London First looks forward to playing its part in ensuring that businesses and the public sector continue working together to promote the market for EVs in the coming decade, helping to make our city a greener and healthier place for Londoners to live in.
You can hear more from Shirley Rodrigues at the London Infrastructure Summit on developing an urban resilience strategy to climate change and other future challenges.
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