3 Providing infrastructure |
19. The Coalition Agreement commits the Government
to "mandate a national recharging network for electric and
plug-in hybrid vehicles."
The Plugged-In Places scheme is the "key mechanism"
by which the Government hopes to introduce recharging infrastructure
across the UK. Plugged-In Places "offers match-funding to
consortia of businesses and public sector partners to support
the installation of electric vehicle recharging infrastructure
in lead places across the UK."
There are eight Plugged-In Places trials across the UK: Central
Scotland, East of England, Greater Manchester, London, the Midlands,
Milton Keynes, the North East of England and Northern Ireland.
These pilot projects are expected to perform a number of roles
including: helping to raise the profile of low carbon transport
amongst local transport providers, encourage private sector involvement
with infrastructure installation or helping to test equipment.
The data collected through these trials will then be used to
shape the design of a national recharging infrastructure network.
20. The Government's plug-in vehicles strategy outlines
its approach to vehicle charging as follows
We want to see the majority of recharging taking
place at home, at night, after the peak in electricity demand.
Home recharging should be supported by workplace recharging for
commuters and fleets, with a targeted amount of public infrastructure
where it will be most used, allowing people to make the journeys
Part of the Plugged-In Places scheme included an
element of home charging.
We heard that vehicle owners tend to prefer recharging their
cars at home or at work.
However, "drivers very much welcomed the public charging
as "people are worried, if they travel somewhere that is
45 miles, whether they have enough energy to get home."
In this report we concentrate on the provision of public infrastructure,
due to the public spending in this area.
21. In the period up to the end of March 2012, Plugged-In
Places had installed 1,673 charge points.
The DfT provided us with the following breakdown of the number
of chargepoints installed by each Plugged-In Place in the period
up to 31 March 2012 (Table 1):
|East of England||135
Table 1 The number of chargepoints installed in
each Plugged-In Place up to 31 March 2012.
In addition to the Plugged-In Places scheme, some
private chargepoint providers are also installing electric vehicle
infrastructure. The total number of chargepoints in the UK may
therefore exceed 3,000.
22. Table 1 shows considerable variability in the
number of chargepoints installed by each Plugged-In Place. This
is in part a result of the trials having started at different
times and therefore being at different stages of development.
However, we have heard that other factors are also at play.
The SMMT states that "there has been varying success in the
eight Plugged-In Places projects, with some locations demonstrating
commercially viable plans for when government funding ends and
others whose status is less certain."
The characteristics of the plugged-in place may also have a role,
with larger cities tending to have a greater population of individuals
willing to adopt new technologies.
23. Standardisation of access to chargepoints is
an emerging concern from Plugged-In Places. If the Government
wishes to encourage sales of plug-in vehicles, then consumers
may need confidence that they will be able to charge their cars
in public spaces, if required. Although the Plugged-In Places
pilots trials have made progress towards providing infrastructure,
there is further work to be done in standardising access to infrastructure,
both in terms of widening access to membership schemes and ensuring
interoperability of cars and infrastructure in different locations.
24. At present, many vehicle users must pre-register
with a payment scheme in order to use chargepoints in their area.
There are a variety of membership or registration schemes currently
in operation. General Motors told us that
Different charging schemes from across the UK should
be harmonised. At the current point in time in order to use electric
points in different parts of the country you would have to be
a member of multiple schemes. [...] This is off-putting and complicated
for customers and only serves to reinforce concerns over range
Making sure that vehicle owners
can access chargepoints across the UK should be a priority in
the DfT's plug-in vehicle strategy. The DfT should set out how
it will work to remove barriers to chargepoint access across the
25. There are also different types of infrastructure
in use in different areas of the UK and abroad. The use of different
types of connector, which allow vehicles to be plugged into chargepoints,
in different areas is a particular concern. Mr Baker told us
that "we have to try to settle on something that is efficient
and safe to use and that is standard as far as possible".
The DfT's approach is to push for agreement in Europe on the
type of connector to be used as standard, though it recognises
wider international agreement may be needed and "there is
only so much the UK or even the EU can do to get international
agreement on that matter."
The DfT should set out how
it intends to reach agreement in the EU on the type of infrastructure
to be used as standard for plug-in vehicles.
Infrastructure provision and vehicle
26. There is something of a "chicken and egg"
problem in encouraging the switch to plug-in vehicles. The Institution
of Mechanical Engineers describes this as follows: "without
a recharging infrastructure consumers will be reluctant to purchase
electric vehicles, but the network will need to be in place before
usage starts to increase".
So drivers will not buy vehicles without ready access to charging
infrastructure, but private companies that could install chargepoints
will not invest in this technology unless they can be guaranteed
a sufficient market of drivers wanting to charge their cars.
The Government expects that the Plugged-In Places programme will
help solve this dilemma by providing initial infrastructure investment
and alleviating potential consumers' range anxiety. This should
"de-risk" subsequent private sector involvement.
Chargepoints and registrations
27. With the assistance of the National Audit Office,
we have looked into the relationship between provision of infrastructure
in an area and the registrations of plug-in vehicles in that area
to see whether readily available public chargepoints can be shown
to stimulate consumer demand for plug-in cars. The DVLA provided
us with data regarding the number of licensed vehicles that are
eligible for the plug-in car grant across different areas of the
UK. We compared these data against the location of chargepoints,
as listed on the National Chargepoint Registry. The National
Chargepoint Registry is a database provided by the DfT, which
it states "will enable all chargepoint manufacturers and
infrastructure scheme operators to make data on their chargepoints
available in one place."
28. Table 2 compares the number of licensed cars
that would be eligible for the plug-in car grant with the number
of chargepoints from the national registry across devolved authorities
and English regions.
|Region||Number of Licenced Cars eligible for PIG
||Number of Charge Points on NCR
|East of England||67
|South West ||180
|Yorkshire and Humberside
Table 2 showing the number of cars eligible for
the plug-in car grant (from DVLA written evidence) and the number
of chargepoints from the national registry across English regions
and devolved authorities.
It is notable that the figures in the National Chargepoint
Registry differ from those provided to us by the DfT for the number
of chargepoints installed by the Plugged-In Places programmes
across the country (table 1). From tables one and two, there
does not appear to be a clear relationship between the number
of plug-in vehicles registered in an area and the abundance of
chargepoints in that area.
29. We have taken data from the National Chargepoint
Registry, which the DfT has released so that the public can see
where they are able to charge their plug-in cars, in order to
reduce range-anxiety. However, this dataset is clearly far from
complete. According to DfT estimates, the total number of chargepoints
in the UK is more than 3,000,
but the National Chargepoint Registry has fewer than 500 entries.
We understand that the registry is under development, but it
is hard to understand why the DfT's database does not contain
at least those chargepoints it knows to have been installed using
30. The Government believes that the provision of
public charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles will provide
reassurance to potential consumers and help overcome the range
anxiety associated with these cars. This reassurance should encourage
consumers to buy plug-in cars. However, the analysis above shows
no relationship between the demand for plug-in cars and the supply
of public charging infrastructure. It is unclear whether this
is because of gaps in the National Chargepoint Registry. The
data provided by the DfT in table 1, relating to the Plugged-In
Places scheme, does not provide any greater clarity. This may
raise questions about the assumption that providing infrastructure
will stimulate demand for plug-in cars.
31. While the registry remains incomplete, the Government
cannot have a clear picture of the availability of charging infrastructure.
Without such a picture, it is difficult to see whether Plugged-In
Places is helping to stimulate consumer demand for plug-in cars.
The DfT is due to renew the plug-in vehicle infrastructure strategy
over the next year. The
DfT should evaluate the effectiveness of the provision of public
infrastructure in encouraging consumer demand for plug-in vehicles.
32. The DfT must take the lead in providing data
on the location of chargepoints so that the public can see where
they can charge their vehicles. Making this database more comprehensive
by adding the location of publicly-funded chargepoint should provide
an incentive for private chargepoint providers to follow suit
and upload the location of chargepoints they have installed.
An accurate and comprehensive
registry of chargepoints installed by the Plugged-In Places scheme
should be made available within the next six months. Publication
of a full registry should encourage private chargepoint providers
to upload their data for public use. We recommend that it be
made a requirement of Plugged-In Places funding that details of
the location of chargepoints installed using this funding are
uploaded to the National Chargepoint Registry.
46 Coalition Agreement p31 Back
Ev w45 para 1.20 Back
Ev 32 Back
Ev 48 para 24 Back
Making the Connection p7 Back
Q 11 Back
Q 11 Back
Ev 47 para 17 Back
Ev 50 Annex C Back
Ev 48 para 20 Back
Ev 41 para 32 Back
Ev w36 para 3.3 Back
Ev 45 para 5.2 Back
Ev 36 para 6 Back
Ev w11 para 4.2 Back
Ev 48 para 20 Back
Ev 47 para 17 Back