£300m Investment in UK Electric Infrastructure

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



The UK’s electric vehicle sector has been given a major boost as the energy regulator Ofgem announced a £300m investment in electric infrastructure. The investment is part of a potential award of £40bn by the UK government to upgrade the UK’s electricity distribution network in preparation for a zero carbon future. The £300m will be provided to over 200 projects that are low carbon and target transport and heating applications. These will include 1,800 fast charging stations in motorway service stations and key trunk roads, along with 1750 more charging points in towns and cities around the country.

The UK government is committed to stopping the sale of petrol and diesel engined vehicles by 2030 and hybrid vehicles by 2035. In the lead up to that switch, the UK’s cables, substations and other infrastructure will require a massive upgrade to support it. To facilitate the upgrade, the government has allocated the £40bn fund to be allocated through energy regulator Ofgem. 204 net zero projects worth £300.5 million have currently been chosen from across England, Scotland and Wales. All of the projects will start this year. The money will also be used to open up local electricity grids to take on more low carbon generation.

Cities and towns around the UK will receive increased network capacity to support more fast charge points, and increased renewable electricity generation, as well as more electric heating for homes and businesses. The investment also covers rural areas with charging points for commuters at train stations in North and Mid Wales and the electrification of the Windermere ferry.

Ofgem research has discovered that up to 36% of households who are not considering switching to EVs because of a lack of charging points near their home. The installation of an extensive motorway charging network along with more charging points in cities and train stations will help address that ‘range anxiety’. Talking about the awards, Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem said, “These projects will support the rapid take up of electric vehicles which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets. Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to. Tripling the number of public charge points will give drivers more options for longer journeys”.

In February this year, Ofgem, the Energy Networks Association and each of the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) launched a call for evidence for energy networks to come forward with projects that could help Britain reach net zero emissions faster and support the economy as the country comes out of the pandemic. Up to £10 billion worth of projects could be in the pipeline. There is no limit on the additional funding that could be provided, subject only to companies making good business cases. Ofgem has committed to working with companies and stakeholders to streamline its processes so that companies get funding without delay.