Last year, Government’s Road to Zero strategy set out its ambitions for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040. On 15 July 2019, Government announced a package of consultations on policies designed to help achieve this target, as well as meet the challenge of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

This article sets out a high-level summary of the announcements.

Consultation on Electric Vehicle Charging in Residential and Non-Residential Buildings

This consultation is designed to help the UK meet the goal set out in the Road to Zero strategy for all new homes to be electric vehicle (EV) ready by having an installed chargepoint (where appropriate). The policies contained in the consultation are also designed to allow England (this consultation is limited to England only) to meet its obligations under the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

Government is proposing:

a) every new residential building with a car space should have a charging point;

b) every residential building undergoing major renovation with more than 10 car parking spaces to have one chargepoint and cable routes for chargepoints in every car parking space;

c) every new non-residential building (including those undergoing a major renovation) with more than ten car parking spaces to have at least one chargepoint and cable routes for a chargepoint for one in five spaces; and

d) at least one chargepoint in existing non-residential buildings with more than 20 car parking spaces, applicable from 2025.

The consultations states that the above policies will be effected by the creation of a new section in the Building Regulations 2010.

The consultation closes on 7 October 2019.

Consultation on Electric Vehicle Smart Charging

To allow the UK to meet its ambitions set out in the Road to Zero strategy, our electricity networks need to be able to cope with the extra demand required to charge the millions of EVs which will be on our roads in the near future. Smart charging can help with this by shifting the time of day when an EV charges or change its rate of charge.

Under section 15 of the Automated Vehicles Act 2018 (the AEV Act), Government has the power to require new chargepoints to be smart. Using these powers, the consultation proposes the introduction of regulations to increase uptake and set minimum standards. The focus of these regulations is on the desired outcomes of innovation, consumer uptake, as well as grid and consumer protection, without being overly prescriptive on how those outcomes are achieved.

The key proposals included in the consultation are:

a) all chargepoints except for public chargepoints (i.e. private home chargepoints and the majority of work place chargepoints) are smart;

b) a smart chargepoint to be defined as “being communications enabled and able to respond automatically to remote signals by adjusting the electricity consumption flowing through the chargepoint”;

c) device-level requirements are implemented as soon as possible to provide mitigation of cyber security risks and to provide a platform upon which a system-based approach to cyber security can be built;

d) chargepoints are checked for mandatory security characteristics through an independent testing and assurance scheme before the point of sale and installation;

e) chargepoints should be capable of retaining smart functionality if the chargepoint operator is changed without the need for a visit to the premises;

f) requirement that all chargepoints have a function that randomly delays how quickly it responds to a signal (which will be no more than 10 minutes) to prevent grid stability issues if a large number of chargepoints turn on or off at the same time;

g) that any smart charging regulations provide adequate space for V2G solutions to continue to develop, including ensuring that smart charging requirements do not prevent discharging of EVs;

h) that the Office for Product Safety and Standards should be the relevant enforcement body given their national scale and because the proposed regulations are directly about the sale and installation of products; and

i) the civil penalty for non-compliance is a fine for each non-compliant chargepoint sold or installed.

Government is proposing that the regulations will come into force 12 months after they are laid in Parliament.

The consultation also looks to gather evidence on any requirements to be set on chargepoint operators in the future. This is not considered necessary today given the low level of smart charging currently taking place means the risks to the electricity networks and consumers of smart charging is low.

The consultation closes on 7 October 2019.

Credit and Debit Card Payments 

In addition to the two consultations above, Government also announced on 15 July 2019 that it wants to see all newly-installed rapid and higher powered chargepoints to provide for debit or credit card payments by spring 2020.

This should help address one of the most common issues faced by consumers, namely the variety of payment method requirements of different providers of chargepoints.

Providing for easy payment methods should prove a big boost to the experience of EV drivers, giving valuable choice and boosting uptake.

Government is not, however, looking to legislate immediately but will use its powers in the AEV Act to do so if the market is too slow to deliver improvements.