As the UK Government announces £56 million of public and industry funding to electrify charge point plans across the country, one of the biggest challenges facing the rollout is the identification of optimum locations for EV chargers.
The Government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCA) estimates that at least 300,000 public charge points will be needed by 2030. Locating charge points in the right places is intended to inspire confidence in drivers who have not yet made the switch, thereby accelerating the uptake of EVs, which in turn will stimulate economic growth and support decarbonisation.
This article will unpack some core considerations for the spatial and temporal optimisation of EV charge point deployment and how the use of cloud based geo-spatial planning tools such as LAEP+ (Local Area Energy Planner Plus) can identify, accelerate and significantly reduce the costs associated with EV charge point rollout.
Collaborating and consulting across stakeholders to ensure optimum deployment of charging infrastructure is a big challenge.
LAEP+ is currently facilitating collaboration between Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), Oxfordshire County Council and Dundee City Council through projects LEO and RESOP. Current LAEP+ users are making use of geospatial data to optimise the rollout of many kinds of low carbon technologies, including EV charge points.
An optimum EV infrastructure strategy should consider the following:
Currently the UK has around 38,000 on street charge points, in order to reach the Government target of 300,000 public charge points by 2030 it is vital that planners can forecast and model the future demand and not only present demand. The fair and equitable provision of charging infrastructure will be critical to a successful Energy Transition.
Aside from meeting consumer needs, this has important implications for revenue generation. Missed opportunities to deploy faster chargers in high need areas or placement in low utilisation regions represents an opportunity cost.
Modelling demand for public charge points requires access to datasets about vehicle ownership, residents ability to charge at home, consumer preferences, shifting populations and the physical environment that will evidence where and when to target charge point provision, down to the street-level.
In some regions, the electricity network is severely constrained, with substations and cables already at maximum capacity. Low carbon technologies like heat pumps and EV charge points are substantial loads compared to traditional residential homes. In order to connect public charge points, CPOs and local authorities must submit connection applications to their local Distribution Network Operator (DNO).
Historically, in constrained regions, this could lead to a large bill required to reinforce a constrained network to support additional demand. As reinforcement costs become socialised, the challenge is moving to time delays and potentially substantial wait times to connect.
Understanding network capacity in any given area prior to submitting a request to the DNO can save as much as 30% of projects from being cancelled due to connection costs and delays. Often, micro adjustments in location can be enough to move the load onto unconstrained network areas.
Increasingly DNOs are making data available through open data portals and heat maps that go to primary - and occasionally secondary substation level.
Planners often need access to more network data than public portals can provide. Through LAEP+, we have been working with DNOs and charge point planners to make even more network constraint data available on an easy to access and visualise planning tool to support an optimised rollout.
As new street furniture, on-street charge points need to be positioned carefully taking into consideration conversation areas, pavement suitability, local residents and other street furniture in the area. Avoiding negatively impacting pedestrians and local communities is key to a successful EV infrastructure plan.
Understanding the suitability of pavements and curbsides for installation of on-street EV charge points should be a major factor in the identification of suitable sites. Curbsides are ruled unsuitable if they are within 2.5 metres of a sim touch, which is any metal object connected to your electricity supply. Similarly pavements with a width of 2.5 metres or less are likely unsuitable.
Installing a charge point on a pavement takes up valuable space so it is important to asses where space has already been restricted by other street furniture, such as road signs, feeder pillars, and bike racks.
It’s also worth considering whether the charge point might negatively impact local residents. Concealing charge point in lamposts and siting them out of the direct view of resident windows can be important in resident buy in.
Consideration must be taken where potential EV charge points are located within Conservation Area or near a Heritage Asset. Often planning permission must be sort and so by understanding where these sites are located prior to a feasibility study can save time and budget in planning applications.
LAEP+ has helped support curbside suitability assessments with desktop assessment of pavement and lampost suitability that takes into account the physical set up of the site.
Predicting how many charge points are needed, what charge point types (slow, fast, rapid, ultra-rapid) and where they should be located is inherently difficult without the right data.
Without the right information, planners risk leaving some residents behind, spending excessively, losing revenues and wasting time on excessive physical assessments.
Access to granular data about charging demand, network capacity, and location suitability is now available and can support planners to identify the optimal locations, avoid wasted effort, collaborate with key stakeholders and evidence the siting of low carbon technologies.
In the most recent report published by the Cabinet Office's Geospatial Commission, Advanced Infrastructure’s LAEP+ tool has been positioned as a solution for EV Solution Providers, Local Authorities and Distribution Network Operators to predict how many charge points are needed, and where they should be located.
LAEP+ combines browser-based geospatial analysis with datasets, such as:
LAEP+ enables users to search & filter across the map to triage potential sites and shortlist opportunities. Optimise site selection by network capacity, building type, heating need, income, fuel poverty, demographic, and more.
The UK Government has committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. A comprehensive and reliable public EV charge point network is critical to greater adoption of EVs. In order for this to happen, the UK’s charging network must expand rapidly so that it is dependable, fair and covers the entire country.
Despite significant early progress for charge point rollout, action is needed to go further and faster.
The current rate of charge point rollout is not fast enough to meet the predicted 2030 requirements and by utilising both granular data and geospatial planning tools, Local Authorities can significantly speed accelerate this transition to low carbon technologies.
Finally a collaborative effort from EV solution providers, Local Authorities and network operators is essential to a speedy rollout, and utilising a tool that enables visibility and data access will also be crucial to its success.
If you're interested in learning more about how LAEP+ can support you and your teams in identifying, accelerating and significantly reducing the costs associated with EV charge point rollout, you can now request a FREE DEMO on our LAEP+ page.