The government of the United Kingdom has earmarked £56 million ($67M) in public and industry funding for the expansion of electric vehicle charge points across the country. The announcement was made on February 21, 2023 by the Transport Minister, Jesse Norman.
According to the Minister, the fund should add 2,400 charge points to the nation’s charging infrastructure in the short term. The government is also working to support local councils to provide tens of thousands of charge points in the long term.
“Today’s commitment will lead to thousands of new chargers being installed,” said Norman, “and plans for tens of thousands extra in due course, so that more people than ever can make the transition to using EVs.”
With the fund, the government plans to boost the existing On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS), expand the prevailing Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) pilot scheme, and assist councils across England to acquire “resources for the development of in-house expertise and capability to coordinate charge point plans”.
The February 21 announcement also marks the launch of the LEVI pilot scheme in 16 new areas to be added to the ones already existing in North Yorkshire, Durham, and Barnet. The new areas that will receive LEVI pilot schemes are as follows;
York, West Yorkshire, West Sussex, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Waltham Forest, Sunderland, Rotherham, Oxfordshire, Norfolk, Lancashire, Hounslow, Harborough, Hackney, Cumbria, and Buckinghamshire.
Less than 9,000 public EV charge points were installed in the UK in 2022 leading to speculations that the UK’s charging infrastructure is lagging behind compared to rising EV demand.
A recent Department for Transport figures shows that UK charge points increased from 28,375 in January 2022 to 37,055 over the next 12 months. By the end of January 2023, that figure stood at 37,851.
Source of the fund announced by the government
A total of £22 million will come from the government’s purse. An additional £17 million will come from private funding while £2 million will come from public funds across local authorities.
Besides expanding the LEVI pilot scheme, an £8 million LEVI Capability Fund was also launched. The aim is to equip local authorities with the requisite skills and ambition to scale up their charging network strategy.
“The government is giving local authorities across England additional help today to energize their charge point roll-out plans,” said Norman.
With the help of the funding, local authorities can work hand-in-hand with charge point operators and private businesses for sustainable growth of local charging networks as well as to pool knowledge and expertise to deliver the most determined charge point plans for their vicinity.
The UK government is committing a further £7 million to the existing ORCS, which brings the total government financial input this year to £37 million. Under ORSC, 3,000 charge points have already been installed and a further 10,000 are in the works.
There are other funding schemes that are open to supporting the installation of EV charge points with government support. They include the landlord grant, Workplace Charging Scheme, and the private/rental grant.
To date, the UK government has spent more than £2 billion to support the transition to zero-emission vehicles in an effort to foster the decarbonization of the entire UK transport system.
Sue Davies, the Head of Consumer Protection Policy, lauded the new government funding, highlighting the need for more investment in the sector.
“Our research shows that the public EV charging infrastructure is falling short with people unable to rely on adequate charging points close to their homes or to get through a long journey,” Davies said. “So, the government announcing thousands of new charging points is a step in the right direction. Charging needs to be easy, reliable, and seamless to support people making the move to an EV.”
EO Charging secures funding to accelerate growth plan
EO Charging is the brainchild of Charlie Jardine. Founded in 2014, the company has been at the forefront of providing charging infrastructure for EVs, trucks, vans, and bus fleets across the UK.
The British EV charging company that collaborates with companies like Amazon has agreed to funds from investors including those from the Middle East. However, it did so at a lower valuation compared to its valuation under the failed Spac listing in New York.
The $80 million equity investment was led by Zouk Capital and Vortex Energy, a renewable energy investor with the backing of Abu Dhabi sovereign institutional investors and Egypt’s EFG Hermes.
Financial Times reported that the group revealed that the investment will accelerate its growth and global expansion plans to become the leading supplier of fleet charging for EVs in Europe and North America.
“We are still at the start, and the industry is still at the start. There is a long way to go,” Jardine said.
The focus of EO Charging in the UK was on the bus market, particularly highly polluted city centers, and the growing consumer market. The company has deployed over 80,000 chargers to consumers and businesses across the globe including Tesco, Uber, DHL, and Amazon.
“Major investments in charging infrastructure are needed to pave the way for a carbon-neutral world,” said Karim Moussa, the Chief Executive of Vortex Energy.