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Clear, present and future opportunities for EV charging

EV drivers need to know they can rely on the UK public charging network on any journey.

ECA has just responded to consultation from the government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) on how to improve ‘the EV driver experience’ at public charge points. 

By the end of 2020, there were over 20,000 public EV chargers of all types in the UK, of which 3,880 were rapid devices, the latter typically delivering up to 145 miles of range in 15 minutes. OZEV now wants to encourage innovative approaches to payment, while ensuring that charging is as straightforward and reliable as refueling a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. 

we advised OZEV that card payment capability should be mandatory for DC rapid and ultra-rapid chargers

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 enables government to legislate to improve consumer charging and boost the provision of public charging. OZEV is now looking to introduce rules that will:

  • make it easier to pay
  • open up charge point data
  • use a single payment metric  
  • ensure a reliable network

In our response, drawn up with the input of ECA Members, including the Net Zero Group, we advised OZEV that card payment capability should be mandatory for DC rapid and ultra-rapid chargers up to 350kW. 

We added they should also mandate roaming across networks, to enable consumers to access all public charge points with one membership card or smartphone app.  We concluded the best way to enable roaming is to require CPOs to open their networks to third parties and each other, and we supported the further proposal to mandate CPOs to provide 24/7 call centers.

Elsewhere, we agreed CPOs should be given flexibility to set their own charges and commercial arrangements, while supporting ‘p/kWh’ as the primary charge point measure so the public, and everyone else, can easily understand the cost of what’s being delivered. 

We also advised OLEV that the best way forward is to develop the necessary standards and protocols for these changes with the wider EV charging industry, keeping the technicalities away from the legislation itself so the industry can respond more flexibility to imminent and future technology and trends.

the best way forward is to develop the necessary standards and protocols for these changes with the wider EV charging industry

EV charging is a ‘clear and present opportunity’ for the electrical and datacomms sector, with much more to come. More rapid chargers and a positive customer charging experience will boost customer and government confidence to give us a virtuous circle - promoting yet further and faster roll-out across the UK. 

ECA’s focus on ensuring installation safety, reliability and functionality supports this vision but we will also need enough competent installers to deliver a safe, efficient and growing system. 

Increasingly, this won’t just mean to deliver new charging installations, but also to provide safe and reliable service support for what’s been installed across the country. 

Add to this the need for contracts and payment arrangements that work not just for Charge Point Operators (CPOs) but also for the contractor supply chain, and it becomes clear why ECA is helping to shape national policy on the UK EVCP roll-out. 

If you, as an ECA Member, are interested in helping ECA to represent your technical and commercial interests, we encourage you to contact paul.reeve@eca.co.uk.  

ECA Member or not, you are welcome to access ECA’s new Green Pivot guidance document, which features information about the skills, training and frameworks that can help you to make the most of the UK’s net zero carbon opportunities.