Proposal 19 – Making the EV charging infrastructure a valuable part of the wider energy system

3 December 2020

Effective planning and coordination of EV charging infrastructure, as part of the wider energy system, is needed to minimise costs, meet statutory obligations regarding air quality, ensure efficient network and charging investment and realise the system benefits of smart charging and grid services. 

This can ensure that EV drivers have confidence in the development and accessibility of public EV charging infrastructure. In particular, that it will keep pace with potentially rapidly increasing EV take-up volumes irrespective of geographic location and type of journeys, and whether or not they have access to home-charging facilities. It can also ensure that electricity network development is undertaken in an efficient, coordinated and economic way at national, regional and local level, and that connections and supplies to individual EV chargepoints and charging hubs are provided in a timely and cost-effective manner. 

To achieve the best outcomes, planning and coordination should be undertaken both strategically at a national level and in support of and complementary to planning at a more granular local level and with close alignment to wider transport and spatial planning. 

The Government should establish an integrated mechanism for the forward planning and coordination of the rollout of public EV charging and the supporting electricity network infrastructure. This will ensure better forward visibility of forecast EV uptake and chargepoint connections in different places. It will enable network operators to plan investment in required electricity infrastructure and industry to understand and be able to respond to changing public EV charging demands. The establishment and development of this mechanism should be considered in the wider context of the whole energy system and the Government’s aspirations to achieve net zero energy systems by 2050. It should be supported by more accessible and open data across the energy system aligned to the recommendations of the Energy Data Taskforce to improve data visibility across the energy system [33]. 

Consideration should be given to the following points: 

  • The Government should facilitate national strategic planning to support the coordinated rollout of EV and electricity network infrastructure. This would focus on ensuring accessible EV charging along with the development of the electricity network to meet the growing demand of EVs. Initially this could comprise a cross government and industry forum or working group to review how planning and coordination is currently being undertaken, identify the critical gaps and inconsistencies and ensure the support needed at a local level is provided. 
  • The Government should provide support to local authorities in facilitating the planning of on-street, forecourt and destination charging facilities and forecasting future EV uptake as part of local energy, transport and emission reduction plans. National strategic planning outputs and guidance should inform Highways England, Transport Scotland, and the Welsh Government regarding provision of en route public charging over the Strategic Road Network and in local areas. Equally this should guide the development of robust evidence and plans related to the growth in EV use and public charging provision and how this informs the design and development of smart local energy systems. This should support an open dialogue between local authorities, network operators, Highways England and EV charging infrastructure providers, allowing EV charging to be considered as part of the wider whole energy system and enabling sufficient and timely investment. This needs to align to local transport and spatial planning, encompassing support and guidance to local authorities through Local Transport Notes [34] and to the national planning policy framework and its associated guidance [35]. 
  • Ofgem should enable and encourage network operators to engage with local authorities in planning charging provision and forecasting future EV uptake in a structured and consistent way. This should be aligned to the latest RIIO-2 Business Plan Guidance [36] and wider whole-system local area energy, transport and emission reduction planning to engender stakeholder engagement and effective investment decisions. 
  • Ofgem should also consider how planning outputs could be most effectively utilised in informing well-justified anticipatory investment by network operators through the RIIO-2 price control (See Proposal 20) and in supporting whole-system approaches and minimising costs for all consumers. 
  • The Government should pursue the goal of developing a Digital Twin of energy system infrastructure that supports the efficient roll out of EV chargepoint infrastructure. This builds on recommendations put forward by the Centre for Digital Built Britain, Digital Framework Task Group and supported by the National Infrastructure Commission that a Digital Twin be implemented. This also aligns with the Energy Data Taskforce recommendation that energy system actors use existing data sets to build a map of current energy infrastructure and that third parties share other data to further inform its enhancement and evolution towards a full Digital Twin. 

The Government and Ofgem, as a matter of urgency, need to facilitate effective forward planning and coordination of the rollout of EV and electricity network infrastructure at a national and local level to meet consumer needs. This needs to be aligned nationally and to wider local area energy, transport and emission reduction plans and be implemented and used through RIIO-2 price control. 

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