Plugged In Places
In 2009 the government created the Office for Low
Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to promote the adoption of
Electric Vehicles in the UK. In addition to
funding the Plug In Car Grant (and
now Plug In Van Grant) to make the
purchase cost of these new technology vehicles
comparable to conventional vehicles whilst manufacturers
ramp up production to economic levels, the
other equally important project is the installation of
charging points to remove the 'chicken and egg' problem:
no vehicle is attractive without a 'fuelling'
infrastructure to support it but there's little
commercial case for installing infrastructure until
there are vehicles on the road to use it.
Ultimately 8 areas in the UK were chosen to share £30
million funding to pilot new charging infrastructure
projects and to spearhead the roll-out of vehicles.
Whilst the vast majority of recharging will normally
take place at a vehicle's normal overnight location,
strategically placed charging points or charging
stations can extend the usefulness of vehicles, enabling
longer journeys and offer a reassurance to address
The 8 Plugged In Places (PIP) areas are London, Milton
Keynes, the 'East of England,' the Midlands, Greater
Manchester, Northern Ireland, the North East and the
Glasgow-Edinburgh corridor in central Scotland.
Other private sector schemes and smaller scale projects
led mainly by Councils who aspired to be included in the
PIP scheme, are complementing PIP projects in other
parts of the country.
Some of the schemes started rolling out infrastructure
before vehicles were even seen in the flesh, let alone
on sale to the public, so it was a challenge to
determine the technical specification necessary and the
ideal locations in which they should be placed. Some
schemes also considered it important to support the
installation of dedicated charging solutions at homes
and businesses, which proved especially prudent since
some early adopters of vehicles did not opt to pay for a
safer home charging solution.
The early deployment of the standard British '13 Amp'
socket on public charging stations restricted recharging
rates and encouraged the use of normal plugs at home and
elsewhere, which can cause hazardous
situations due to the way that UK electrical
supplies are provided. These have now been banned on
future PIP installations in favour of the newly agreed,
dedicated 'Type 2' socket outlet offering safer, faster
Areas have adopted different approaches
to support e-mobility in their areas: whilst some have
focused on 'slow' charging aimed at when vehicles are
parked during work and socialising (all kinds of cars
spend, on average, 23 hours per day parked) others have
concentrated on Quick Charge infrastructure, allowing
80% recharge in 30 minutes, enabling longer onward
journeys and return journeys with minimal
inconvenience. Quick Charge has also been shown
(first in Japan) to allow more effective use of
vehicles, with users prepared to use more of the battery
charge, comfortable in the knowledge that they can 'fill
up' quickly. Both 'slow charge' and 'Quick Charge'
approaches are valid so it is a case of the right
balance to suit local geography and journey patterns and
the capability of current and future vehicles.
With the cost of charging installations (especially
Quick Charging) falling as technology improves and
production levels increase, it is affordable for other
areas to make a start in installing strategic
infrastructure. We were consultants to Cornwall Council
during their bid for Plugged In Places with good
contacts in the other PIP areas, OLEV and with the
vehicle and infrastructure manufacturers. If you are a
Council, regional government body or a large fleet
operator interested in pursuing an infrastructure and/or
the deployment of vehicles we are available for
Please contact us for anything related to charging at firstname.lastname@example.org
or click on contact us.