EV charging round-up 

An overview of the latest grants and law changes 

Excerpt: An overview of the latest grants and law changes

Measures to improve EV charging infrastructure across the UK are gathering speed, with significant year-on-year increases in the number of public charge points, new funding streams and proposed rule changes to make installation easier. 

There have been several announcements from Government since it published its new ‘Plan for Drivers’ last autumn. 

In this article, we’ll have a look at the current situation, what the new measures are and outline some of the main EV charging grant schemes available. 

Fully electric vehicles accounted for over 16% of the new UK car market in 2023, with the number of plug-in vehicles rising to over 1.2million. Of those, 777,000 are fully battery electric. 

Across the UK, more than 57,000 public charge points have now been installed, with numbers growing at least 42% year on year. That’s in addition to hundreds of thousands of charge points at homes and businesses. More than 400,000 home and workplace chargers have been supported by the Government to date. 

In total, the Government has so far spent £2bn supporting the transition to zero transmission vehicles. 

And despite the five-year delay to the ban on the manufacture of internal combustion engine vehicles, significant investment in electric vehicles has also been pledged by manufacturers. 

There is still some catching up to do with European counterparts when you consider that, in Norway, for example, 80% of new car purchases are electric. 

Private sector investments include: 

  • Nissan’s recent investment of over £3billion to develop two new electric vehicles at their Sunderland plant 
  • Tata’s investment of over £4billion in a new 40 GWh gigafactory 
  • BMW’s investment of £600million to build next-generation MINI EVs in Oxford 
  • Ford’s investment of £380million in Halewood to make electric drive units 
  • Stellantis’ £100 million investment in Ellesmere Port for EV van production 

Recent EV announcements 

Grants for schools 

A new grant has been launched to fund up to 75% of the cost of charge points at state-funded schools, colleges, nurseries and academies to boost charging facilities for staff and visitors. The grant will now cover up to £2,500 per socket, up from the previous £350. 

This could also help schools generate revenue by making their charge points available to members of the public. 

Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund 

 This new £381million funding pot is to help local authorities across the country install thousands of new chargers. The first capital payments totalling £14.2million have already been approved for three local authorities. Almost 100 dedicated EV officers have been recruited through this fund to support charge point procurement. 

Transparency and access laws 

New laws have been approved to provide EV drivers with easier and more reliable access to public charging facilities. Prices across charge points must be transparent and easy to compare, with simpler payment methods. 

As the regulations roll out, providers will be required to open up their data to enable drivers to find available chargers that meet their needs, including charging speed and whether they are working and available. This will be supported by a free 24/7 helpline for drivers facing any issues accessing charging on public roads. 

Legal access consultation 

The Government is currently consulting on plans to speed up the installation process for charge point operators when performing street works on the highway. The consultation proposes operators should have access to permits when installing EV infrastructure, rather than having to apply for a licence, as they do currently. This would be much quicker, taking days instead of months, and cheaper. The consultation closed on April 12. 

Other available grant schemes 

Workplace charging scheme 

The now long-standing Workplace Charging Scheme provides eligible applicants with support towards the upfront cost of EV charge point purchase and installation. It is open to qualifying businesses, charities, small accommodation providers and public sector organisations and can meet up to 75% of the costs, up to a maximum of £350 per socket and 40 sockets per applicant. 

EV infrastructure grant for staff and fleets 

This helps SMEs with the cost of installing EV chargers and supporting infrastructure for their staff and fleet vehicles. Work can be for sockets they want to install now and in the future and includes things like wiring and posts. It covers 75% of the cost, up to £15,000, at up to £350 per socket and up to £500 per parking space with enabled supporting infrastructure. SMEs can get up to five grants across five different sites. 

EV charge point grant for renters and flat owners 

Up to £350 is available towards the cost and installation of a socket for people who own and live in a flat, or rent any residential property. They must own an eligible vehicle and have a private off-street parking space. 

EV charge point grant for households with on-street parking 

This provides 75% towards the cost of buying and installing a socket, also capped at £350, for charge points at residential properties where a cross-pavement charging solution is also being installed, with permission from the local council. 

EV charge point and infrastructure grants for landlords 

 These grants are to help landlords install EV facilities at rental and leasehold properties they own. It provides 75% off the cost of buying and installing a socket, up to £350, with up to 200 grants per year available for residential properties and a further 100 for commercial properties. 

It also provides funding for infrastructure for residential properties owned by landlords up to £350 per socket and up to £500 for parking space infrastructure, capped at £30,000. Up to 30 grants can be received per financial year. 

Rapid charging fund 

This pilot scheme closed to applicants in February so news of the successful schemes is awaited, but it seeks to accelerate industry’s own investments in transport decarbonisation and boost access to a comprehensive ultra-rapid charging network. 

The industry response 

ChargeUK is the voice of the UK’s EV charging industry and works on behalf of the companies which install and operate charge points. 

It says there is more work to be done and has made a number of recommendations to Government. 

A ChargeUK spokesperson told Renewable Energy Installer: “ChargeUK welcomes many of the recent Government announcements and initiatives such as the consultation on extending Section 50 licences and the delivery of more LEVI funding. 

“However, there is still work to do. The public charge point network grew by nearly 50% last year but we can go further and faster still. Our report ‘Accelerating the Installation of Public Charging Infrastructure’ made a number or recommendations that are still to be addressed including speeding up grid connections, prioritising net zero projects, supporting a voluntary and consistent code of conduct and extending permitted development rights. 

“We look forward to continuing to work with government this year to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to drive and charge an EV.” 

‘Ongoing commitment and innovation needed’  

Michael Kenyon, strategic technical director at testing, inspection and certification business, 

Bureau Veritas, said: “The recent UK announcement for grant support for EV charge points is a welcomed and significant step in bolstering the charging network across the UK. 

“Through incentivising the installation of these charging points, we hope it will encourage more private investment in charging infrastructure, leading to a stronger and more extensive network. The emphasis on residential charging points addresses one of the key concerns for EV owners, ensuring that charging facilities are readily available for those who may not have access to dedicated off-street parking. 

“However, despite these advancements, there is still plenty of work to be done to fully maximise the potential of this industry. One of the priorities for 2024 and beyond should be the continued investing in smart charging technology and grid integration will be crucial for managing increased electricity demand and optimising the efficiency of charging infrastructure. 

“Looking ahead, the UK must also prioritise the cyber security of these charge points, with growing concern of cybersecurity threats that could potentially compromise the integrity of EV charging points.  

Unauthorised access through unprotected network or peripheral device interfaces poses a huge risk, as does firmware-based attacks that manipulate voltage settings, potentially causing major damage. 

With that said, we encourage those looking to take advantage of these incentives to also take the necessary measures to protect their cybersecurity. 

“Overall, whilst the UK has made significant progress in expanding its EV charging network, ongoing commitment and innovation will be necessary to build a comprehensive and future- ready infrastructure that meets the evolving needs of electric vehicle users.” 

‘Car prices need to come down still’ 

Dominic Longley, director at Able Electrical Installations and The Car Charging Company, based in the West Midlands, also shared his experience of the current EV market from an installer point of view. 

He said: “We roughly carry out 15 to 20 domestic charger installers per month, with commercial ranging from anywhere between five and 20. At the moment, for a smaller company like ours, we couldn’t rely on just fitting chargers as the demand isn’t there yet. 

“Only time will tell what impact the new grant announcements will have, but I can say that we have a decent amount of enquiries already – not from schools directly, but from bigger companies looking to subcontract work out. 

“In terms of the EV market in general, I would say we are still at the start of the major roll-out and the Government knocking back the start date for all cars to be electric hasn’t helped. I think car prices still need to come down a lot before more people start looking at changing over to an electric car.”

Image credit: Dreamstime