Following a recent report published in Smart Infrastructure magazine, which stated that the UK’s EV infrastructure roll out has been glacially slow. Sarah Gray, Head of Alternative Fuels at Rivus looks at the challenges that still need to be overcome to get a grip on charging infrastructure.
On the Road to 2030
The report, On the Road to 2030, by research and lobbying not-for-profit, New AutoMotive, examines how the electric vehicle charging industry will enable the phase-out of petrol and diesel vehicles in the UK. In summary, it doesn’t bode well for a nation striving for a transition to zero emission vehicles by 2035.
Rising to challenges
The reality is that the UK needs to ramp up alternative fuel infrastructure efforts significantly. Commercial fleet operators are realising they cannot rely on the provision of public charging infrastructure alone. Businesses need to make inroads into building their own, yet this comes with significant challenges.
When looking for an area to place a charger, the report suggests that available grid capacity was the number one issue, whereas bringing in an operator into an area and land costs were the least consequential among those surveyed.
Other problems encountered, which had an impact on slowing down delivery, included wayleave or easement agreements, legal issues and access to the grid caused by Distribution Network Operator (DNO) or Distribution System Operator (DSO) problems.
In our own experience of rolling out electric charging points across our nationwide network of 78 independently-owned garages, with our partner Enerveo, we encountered a number of unforeseen issues.
Measuring the operation’s current energy usage and whether there is access to enough power to install the desired charging solutions is essential. In our own insight we talk about load monitoring, as we initially wanted to include a DC charger; however, following the load monitoring report, we discovered this wouldn’t be possible due to lack of capacity.
Surveying individual sites to understand where EV chargers could be installed is time consuming and provides logistical challenges. Working out what civil works are required and understanding the quality of the existing electrical set-up that is in place, highlights further challenges that an organisation may not be aware of. Rivus, for example, came up against items such as differing groundwork requirements across multiple sites. Where reinstated concrete was found, additional excavation was required, adding to both costs and implementation plans. On the flip side though, with site investigation, you may also find positive news, such as existing ducting that can be used.
Leading the Charge with Installations
In mid 2022, Rivus celebrated the completion of our first phase of a major EV charging infrastructure project to prepare our commercial fleet service, maintenance and repair network for the future needs of electric vehicles. We installed 45 new electric charging points across nine of our sites and a further 11 sites were also undergoing groundwork and civils assessments in progress for the next phase.
By the end of 2022, an additional 11 sites had another 50 new twin socket charging points installed, each enabling four vehicles to be charged overnight in dedicated charging bays. We’ve documented some of the challenges faced and the learnings in a downloadable Rivus insight report, so that others can understand more about the journey to transitioning to a low emission fleet.
Working together to achieve targets
Whilst Government targets appear to be falling behind, and this raises concerns, we must understand the challenges organisations face and provide support where required, to overcome some of these common issues many are facing. It’s not an easy task and as an industry we need to work together to implement solutions.
For more information and insights on transitioning to an alternative fuel fleet, visit: https://www.rivusgroup.co.uk/electric-vehicle-fleet-management/.