FUNDAMENTALS OF \ EV CHARGING

Widespread, reliable and accessible charging infrastructure is a vital foundation of greater electric vehicle uptake, and the experience is improving all the time.

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PUBLIC CHARGING

Public charging point networks in the UK have evolved as quickly as the vehicles they support. According to Zap-Map, there are 40,000 connectors (individual sockets or tethered leads) at 15,000 locations across the UK, from on-street parking spaces in cities to service areas alongside motorways and A-roads. They’re also increasingly easy to use.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CHARGE?

Chargepoints’ maximum power output is measured in kilowatts (kW), and networks tend to install units based on the amount of time vehicles are likely to be parked. City centre and ‘destination’ units typically offer an output of up to 7kW, which restores around 30 miles of range per hour while drivers shop, eat or socialise. Rapid chargers tend to be located close to the strategic road network and are designed for mid-journey top-ups – at 50kW, these provide an 100 miles of range in about half an hour.

Vehicles’ charging capability varies. Most battery-electric vehicles can rapid charge at 50kW, while some new models are compatible with the latest 150kW or 350kW ‘ultra-fast’ chargepoints. Plug-in hybrids tend not to have rapid charging capability as it’s assumed that drivers will use the combustion engine to travel longer distances. Chargers will automatically limit their output to suit the vehicle’s on-board charger.

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HOW MANY CONNECTORS ARE THERE?

Not many. Manufacturers are moving towards standardisation, and most new plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles use the same connectors. The European standard is a Type 2 plug for slower AC speeds, and the Combined Charging System (CCS) which adds two extra pins for DC rapid charging. CCS-compatible vehicles have a single socket that works with both connector types.

Compatibility issues are increasingly rare. Almost all slow charging points have a Type 2 socket, and manufacturers supply a cable to convert this to whatever is on the car. Rapid charging points usually have cables attached to the unit itself, compatible with CCS and the CHAdeMO standard used by the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Zap-Map has a live map of all charging points, which can be filtered by vehicle and connector type.


Type 2 plug


Combined Charging System (CCS)

DO I NEED AN ACCOUNT?

Accessing and paying for charging is a long-term bugbear of electric vehicle drivers, but there’s no longer a need to carry a wallet full of membership cards. The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act (2018) requires operators to provide access and payment without an account – usually through an app or website. All new rapid chargers have to offer payment by contactless credit or debit card, and networks are retrofitting older units.

However, contactless payment is usually the most expensive way to charge. Most networks offer discounts for drivers who register an account, with further reductions for regular users paying a monthly membership fee. Several fuel card providers, including Allstar, BP and Shell, enable drivers to pay for charging as they would petrol or diesel.

WORKPLACE CHARGING

Businesses, charities and public sector organisations can claim funding and tax relief for installing their own charging infrastructure. The Workplace Charging Scheme provides up to 75% of the procurement and installation costs for chargepoints, capped at £350 per connection – units which can charge two vehicles qualify twice.

Grant funding can be claimed in multiple rounds, supporting up to 40 connectors per applicant – including rapid chargers for vehicles with short turnaround times between shifts. Organisations can also deduct 100% of the cost of charging equipment against their profits before tax, and employees plugging in at work do not pay Benefit-in-Kind on the energy used.

My role at Drax is to prove the benefits of electric vehicles to businesses and despite all the odds, the EV industry is gaining momentum.

Against a backdrop of COVID-19 restrictions and Brexit uncertainty, the EV industry has seen remarkable growth over the past year. Trade negotiations with the EU saw EVs remaining tariff-free until the end of 2023. Carbon emissions falling in lockdown reignited the call to clean up our planet And, most recently, the March Budget saw EV charge points eligible for super-deduction tax relief.

Electric vehicles might be my business but when it comes to finding more sustainable ways to run our organisations, it’s not a question of if, but when.

Adam Hall Head of Electric Vehicles, Drax E: adam.hall@drax.com M: 07736 298171

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