Cecilia Routledge 16 November 2022

Shift towards public and destination EV charging presents opportunities for local authorities

Shift towards public and destination EV charging presents opportunities for local authorities image

The transition to fossil free motoring is now well underway and, along with increased electric vehicle (EV) adoption, we are seeing a significant shift towards public and destination charging.

As EVs become more affordable and awareness of the benefits of EV ownership grows, increased market penetration is resulting in more EV drivers with no off-street parking and nowhere to install a home charger. These owners need to rely on public and destination charging and this trend, combined with a changing mindset among EV drivers that sees them charging ‘little and often’ wherever they stop, provides considerable opportunities for local authorities.

Town centre public car parks, plus parking bays at local authority premises like libraries, swimming pools, leisure centres, museums and community centres, all offer opportunities for public EV charging and, with a fifth (20%) of EV drivers now charging at their workplace, for local authority employees too. Local authorities are eligible for the OZEV (Office for Zero Emission Vehicles) £350 ‘per socket’ Workplace Charging Scheme Grant and, if you have less than 250 employees, for the SME EV Infrastructure Grants of up to £75,000 of total project costs too.

An understanding of user charging profiles is an important first step for any EV installation, as this will enable you to match your installation directly to user behaviour, and establish the best type or chargers and the power needed to meet requirements.

For example, our research shows that daytime users of public chargers are plugged in for, on average, 20 minutes. The average distance between charges is 18-25 miles, with the average charge per session being between 7.5 and 11 kWh, which is just 10% of the battery’s capacity, so it’s clear that drivers are usually topping up their battery, rather than filling it from empty.

This means that, for most public chargers, a medium rate 3.7 to 22 kW AC (alternating current) charger is more than adequate. Ultra-fast DC (direct current) chargers are really only necessary for drivers on long journeys looking to quickly recharge. And that’s good news for public authorities, because DC chargers can cost around 10 times more to install than AC, not to mention the considerable strain that DC chargers place on the electricity grid, due to the amount of power they draw.

Nowadays, the mantra for electric vehicles is ‘ABC’ or in other words, ‘Always Be Charging’. EV drivers are increasingly plugging in to charge wherever they stop, in much the same way as people plug in their laptops or mobile phones at a café or leisure centre. Changed working patterns with more home working is also seeing more people nipping out for a coffee or an early brunch, and being able to charge their car up at the same time is an added bonus. 

The average personal car travels less than 200 miles a week, and the 50 kW of power needed for this can be obtained in just 4.5 hours of 11 kW AC charging. So, if we consider a week in the life of an EV driver, just one hour parked up in town to go shopping, 1.5 hours at the swimming pool or library and two hours at the local community centre for choir practice or pilates, and that’s your week’s charging needs covered!

There is also potential for local authorities to maximise charger usage at premises that are generally only used during the day, by allowing nearby residents controlled access to the charging stations in the evenings and overnight, thereby creating a true community charging facility.

Local authorities can generate revenue from EV charging by charging drivers for the power they use, applying a percentage margin over the cost electricity price. Smart chargers allow you to apply differential price depending, for example on the length and speed of charge, and the time of day. The rising cost of electricity needn’t necessarily be a concern either, as drivers will expect to see an increase in the price they pay, just like the increase in pump prices for petrol and diesel vehicles. Figures from Zap Map show that the number of public charge points has risen by 34% since last year and our research reveals that availability of public charging is now far less of a concern for EV owners, so we are certainly moving in the right direction. And that’s encouraging, because availability of public charging is a key driver for motorists considering making the switch to electric.

Cecilia Routledge is global head of e-mobility at CTEK

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