Examining the proposals put forward by the Energising Our Electric Vehicle Transition report

Examining the proposals put forward by the Energising Our Electric Vehicle Transition report

Energy analysis: Maria Connolly, partner at TLT Solicitors, discusses the Energising Our Electric Vehicle Transition report, published by the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce, and analyses the various proposals and strategies which are intended to facilitate the growth of electric vehicles (EVs) while minimising the impact on the UK’s electricity system.

What is the background to this report?

The UK is committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Road transport is a key piece in that jigsaw, accounting for 25% of total greenhouse gas emissions and 28% of all energy consumed in the UK.

Electric Vehicles (EV) sales are increasing and there are now some 70,000 EVs on the UK’s roads. However, the UK remains in the early stages of the transition to EVs, with EV market share having reached around 1.3% of new car registrations.

The government’s Road to Zero strategy, released in July 2018:

  • set an ambition that all new cars and vans would be effectively zero emission by 2040
  • noted that the most credible technology currently available is the plug-in EV, and
  • recognised that the electrification of road transport could increase today’s electricity consumption by around 30% by 2050

The government set up the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce (Taskforce) to investigate and propose ways to manage the transition to EVs. Energising Our Electric Vehicle Transition is the Taskforce’s report on these issues.

What are the key issues/priorities raised in the report?

The Taskforce’s work has focussed on two key challenges: effectively managing the impacts on the electricity system and providing consumers with a good EV charging experience.

The Taskforce believes smart charging to be essential to managing the first challenge by providing benefits to the wider electricity system. The second is to be overcome by adopting a strong consumer focus in all aspects of the transition to EVs, but specifically by achieving smooth interoperability between different EV models and charging infrastructure and by ensuring the availability of a significant network of ultra-fast charge points.

Accordingly, there are three key priorities running through the proposals made in the report:

  • agreeing common standards and codes of practice to enable interoperability and the sharing of data within the EV sector and with the electricity system
  • developing effective and connected national and local approaches to planning and coordination of network and chargepoint infrastructure, enabling efficient investment, mediating the balance between future-proofing and asset stranding
  • realising the value of smart charging, underpinned by a resilient network and clear market signals, to reduce the cost of supplying millions of EVs

What proposals have been put forward?

The Taskforce makes 21 proposals grouped around five themes. Key proposals in each theme include:

  • interoperability
    • to lead the way on reviewing international interoperability standards in order to establish and agree a preferred set for adoption
    • to enable roaming services to deliver a seamless EV charging experience between public chargepoints
  • smart charging
    • to require private EV charge points to charge smartly by default
    • to develop electricity markets to properly reward consumers for the benefits their actions deliver
  • use of data and consumer protection
    • to establish industry-wide data sharing arrangements and to introduce a data access and privacy framework for the EV sector
    • to facilitate the creation of public chargepoint information apps
  • winning consumers’ trust and confidence
    • to undertake a campaign to promote the benefits of smart charging to the public and to establish best practice standards for point of sale information relating to EVs
    • to provide an independent, tailored advice and information service on smart charging and EVs
  • charging infrastructure
    • to ensure effective forward planning and coordination of the rollout of EV and electricity network infrastructure at a national and local level

Is there anything of surprise in the report?

With so many technological, financial and logistical challenges to be overcome on the journey towards achieving net zero, it is pleasing to see that the Taskforce has not been blinded by those challenges and has maintained a strong focus on what will ultimately dictate the success of EVs: the consumer experience.

It would have been easy to lose sight of the imperative for EV ownership to be as user-friendly as possible. Instead, the Taskforce has stated its desire ‘to make consumers want to drive an EV in a way that’s similar to their desire to use their smart phone’. This focus on the consumer experience shines through in the five themes of the report around which the principles are grouped and should be applauded.

What are the 'next steps' in relation to EVs?

The Taskforce notes that its proposals only offer a starting point. The momentum building around EVs must be maintained and enhanced through further cross-sector collaborative working.

Decarbonisation of transport is clearly fundamental to achieving net zero by 2050 and this report sets out ambitious proposals towards achieving that goal. The burgeoning EV industry has much work ahead of it in order to make these proposals a reality.

The report identifies that the most pressing need in the short-term is to be taking steps in relation to smart charging infrastructure and protecting consumers’ data. Accordingly, it suggests requiring private EV chargepoints to charge smartly by default by 2021 and calls for the introduction of a Data Access and Privacy Framework within the same timeframe, to give EV owners full control over their data.

In addition, there remain questions to address on EVs which are not resolved by the report:

  • some form of governance will be required. Who will do this and on what basis? To what extent will it rely on legislation, UK or international standards or voluntary codes of practice?
  • can consumers’ anxiety as to the range of EVs be alleviated, particularly for those living in rural areas?
  • decarbonising commercial vehicles also presents further challenges which need to be examined

This is a fast moving area. The Taskforce’s report uses the Road to Zero strategy figures as a benchmark, while noting the doubt cast on them by the Committee on Climate Change, which has suggested the Road to Zero figures must be more ambitious to achieve net zero by 2050. The government’s recent announcement on bringing forward to 2035 the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel (now including hybrid) cars and vans shows the ambition and fast pace of change in this sector.


Interviewed by Barbora Kozusnikova.

The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.

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