New report on the future of public EV charging infrastructure

Transport Scotland and the Scottish Futures Trust have published a new report on public electric vehicle charging infrastructure. It sets out how Scotland can grow and expand provision to enable households and business to confidently switch to electric vehicles and help tackle climate change.

The joint report highlights the current approaches and constraints associated with present models of delivery. The market engagement exercise outlines future opportunities for businesses and for local authorities.

Download the report below:

It considers models which encourage greater financial innovation and partnership working between the public and private sectors, benefitting from wider skills and expertise, whilst increasing the pace of rollout.

Demand for electric vehicles and associated charging will increase significantly in Scotland over the next decade in response to government policies and market responses.

The report, based on extensive engagement with local authorities and the private sector notes the solid foundations of public charging provision provided through the current ChargePlace Scotland network – but recognises that how this model evolves, whilst retaining its best elements, will be key to meeting demand and encouraging more people to drive electric vehicles with confidence. The report also recognises the need to maintain a consumer-focused approach that provides equity of access to all users as part of the just transition to net zero.

The report highlights that Scotland is now at a tipping point, as a number of factors converge in the planning, delivering and financing of public electric vehicle charging infrastructure, namely:

  • Both the scale and pace of investment in public electric vehicle charging infrastructure will need to be accelerated to meet growing demand over the coming years. It is unsustainable for the public sector to meet this challenge on its own.
  • Whilst an important driver of early uptake, the provision of free to use public charge points, through the ChargePlace Scotland network needs to change; more sustainable financing models are required to remove barriers to private sector investment.
  • The natural renewal cycle of electric vehicle charging infrastructure creates opportunities to set in place new ways to encourage commercial investment in the next generation of technologies.
  • With increased uptake of electric vehicles, there will be an increasing need to address the different challenges of the various electric vehicle charging markets, and to establish appropriate planning and delivery approaches for each of them to maintain equitable access to electric vehicle charging across society.
  • Building on Scotland’s collaborative approach to delivering electric vehicle charging, there is now an opportunity to bring together an even broader cross-section of the public sector – government, local authorities and regulators – as well as the private sector – car manufacturers, charging providers and electricity network owners and suppliers to harness efficiencies and opportunities, and add value to the economy.

In seeking to address these factors and informed by stakeholder engagement, the report identifies a number of areas for consideration, whilst also establishing a clearer vision of the longer-term requirements and needs:

  • optimising the ability to leverage private investment, skills and resources to improve the planning, delivery operation and maintenance of electric vehicle charging infrastructure;
  • encouraging the deployment of private capital through partnerships with the public sector, complementing and improving the existing public charging base for electric vehicles;
  • ensuring that the strengths of the ChargePlace Scotland network are built on in a transition toward a commercial delivery model, recognising the need for access to chargepoints across the whole of Scotland, including both rural and urban areas;
  • maintaining a consumer focused approach that ensures an integrated and reliable network of chargepoints that provides cost and equity of access to all user groups as part of a Just Transition to Net Zero;
  • establishing guidance, tools and additional support to assist the public sector for the potential adoption of new financing and delivery models and sharing of learning across Scotland;
  • the need for chargepoint hosts to review current pricing policies and electric vehicle charging tariffs to reduce public subsidy and, more importantly increase commercial viability of new charging investment, whilst maintaining inclusive access;
  • assessing the options for the future role of ChargePlace Scotland within the wider delivery of electric vehicle charging infrastructure;
  • learning lessons from innovative approaches already undertaken – such as the Project PACE partnership with SP Energy Networks and work on the Electric A9 with Scottish and Southern Energy Network; and
  • continuing engagement with the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) and industry to influence the regulatory environment to enable efficient investment in electricity networks to meet future public electric vehicle charging needs whilst protecting consumers.

Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: “This report makes clear that as demand for electric vehicles increases, our approach towards the provision of public charging infrastructure must evolve.

“We’ve achieved much through the Local Authority Infrastructure Programme and over £45 million pounds has been invested to deliver over 1800 charge points across Scotland through a single network operator. This has created green jobs and net zero opportunities across the country – but more can still be achieved.

“This report is clear that we are now at a tipping point in terms of current demand and future requirements. By retaining the best characteristics that Scotland enjoys through ChargePlace Scotland, the opportunities from inviting greater private sector involvement could be tremendous.

“To meet our world leading climate targets, of course we need to see less car use rather than more. For those that need to drive, the opportunities afforded by electric vehicles for our climate and our air quality are profound. If the car is the right tool for transport on some occasions then we need people to have confidence to choose electric. This requires a comprehensive charging network and I’m pleased that this report provides a route map that supports our vision of phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.”

Director of Infrastructure Finance and Programmes at the Scottish Futures Trust  Kerry Alexander said: “We are working closely with Transport Scotland, pooling our collective infrastructure expertise to scope out the requirements to accelerate the delivery of public electric vehicle charging facilities. 

“To deliver at scale and pace, we need to adopt innovative and commercially viable funding models to supplement Scottish Government funding. We will be looking to develop models in the coming months, working with Transport Scotland, local authorities and private sector operators, to support future delivery.”

More information on how Transport Scotland is working to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport is available on the Mission Zero page.

The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)

Established by Scottish Government as a centre of infrastructure expertise, SFT performs an active leadership role across major infrastructure programmes, bringing its unique mix of skills, experience, resource and knowledge to bear to deliver improved infrastructure across the public sector. 

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