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Enock Ebbah

Research Suggests 3 Reasons UK Failed Car Charging Station Goals

According to a recent report by the RAC, the UK government has missed its target of installing a minimum of six ultra-rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargers at each motorway service station in England by the end of 2023.

February 2024

What is the Government’s EV Charging Station Target?

A country’s successful uptake of electric vehicles requires a high number of reliable and affordable electric vehicle charging stations throughout the country. The UK government has an ambition to increase EV charging points by 10-fold to reach 300,000 stations by 2030. 

To match this ambitious goal, the UK government pledged £1.6 billion to EV charging infrastructure to alleviate financial barriers and create cost-effective charging of EVs. Additionally, the UK government established the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund as an initiative to fund local authorities in England to plan and deliver EV charging infrastructure for residents without off-street parking.

In March 2022, there were more than 30,000 public charging stations across the country, with more than 5400 public fast charging stations, and an estimated 600 chargers are added to the existing stock every month. 

3 Possible Reasons the Government Missed their Target

The UK government's failure to meet its targets for EV charging station installations can be attributed to three key factors:

  1. The slow pace of electrical grid connections: The slow speed of the electrical grid connections; operators often can wait months for a grid connection. Significant engineering works go into every single connection, which requires a lot of workforce and planning. 
  2. Planning and Regulatory Hurdles: The installation of EV charging stations involves navigating through a complex web of local and national regulations. Planning permissions, safety standards, and compliance with electrical codes can cause massive delays that take a long time to resolve. Local authorities have an irreplaceable role to play by having the capacity to deliver the proper levels of efficiency and commitment to provide charging stations to local communities. 
  3. Geographical Complications: the number of public EV charging stations appears to be increasing, as there was a 37 per cent increase in 2022 compared to 2021 data. However, EV charging stations have a lopsided geographical distribution within the UK due to varying geographical landscapes and population densities. Also, some local authorities have not made the most of the government funding allocated to improve the spread of EV charging in the communities.

How Might We Resolve These Shortcomings?

There should be effective coordination between the government, private companies, energy providers and local authorities for the successful rollout of EV charging stations and the development of the necessary infrastructure. Another thing that needs to be considered is that the infrastructure must be future-proof to adapt to future EV models and charging technologies to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancements.

The Impact of Poor EV Infrastructure 

The news of the UK government missing critical targets continues to hinder the adoption of electric vehicles nationwide. Drivers are reluctant to switch to electric vehicles from internal combustion engines, and there is a genuine fear among owners that there will be inadequate EV chargers to meet the required demand. There are also much longer waiting times for charging, further exacerbating drivers' frustration.

Moreover, the government has ambitious targets to reduce transport sector greenhouse gas emissions, heavily relying on significant adoption rates of EVs to reduce transport sector emissions. Considering the transportation sector is one of the most significant contributors to the UK's GHG emissions, the slow adoption of EVs due to the lack of proper charging infrastructure hurts mitigating the impacts of climate change. 

To finalise, the government failed to install a minimum of six ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers at each motorway service station in England by the end of 2023. The slow pace of grid connections and poor planning have contributed heavily to this – with geographical variance only serving to worsen the effects.

Unfortunately, this is not the only target the government has failed to meet for improving the climate, and immediate actions need to be taken to avoid further complications and harsher correction methods. For the government to meet the majority of its Net-Zero targets, the implementation of EV charging stations could make a sizable difference and must be prioritised.

If you want to understand how you can do your bit to mitigate the ensuing climate crisis, you might want to look into some environmental training. No matter the requirements and goals of the organisation, specific training can help you get there.

The IEMA Pathways to Net Zero course is the premiere guide for organisations that want to join the movement to achieve Net-Zero. It takes learners through both the understanding and practical application of changes and processes you can make in your organisation. Ultimately, this will help us correct course and secure a safer future for everyone.

About the Author

Enock Ebbah MSc has a wealth of combined experience, having spent 13 years developing and delivering energy, environment and sustainability projects, energy research and responsible engineering. His specialist expertise in strategic NetZero solutions, energy transition, decarbonisation initiatives, and sustainable approaches to using energy, materials, and resources for sustainable development. As an Environment and Sustainability Consultant at Astutis, Enock helps organisations deliver ambitious environment, sustainability and NetZero outcomes by providing environmental assessments, environmental and sustainability training, ESG materiality assessments, sustainability reporting and strategy.

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