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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 uElectric
                  vehicle chargingp 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 'range anxiety.'

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 charging.

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 consulting.

Please contact us for anything related to charging at infrastructure@eco-drive.co.uk or click on contact us.