Electric vehicles: the practical aspects of charging


Municipalities face a series of dilemmas when building a charging infrastructure

A number of councils and local authority groups have developed innovative programs for EV charging infrastructure. Among those with particularly advanced agendas are London Councils, Oxford City Council, Greater Manchester CA and Suffolk CC. All four have comprehensive initiatives to improve their residential on-street charging coverage.

“The appalling air quality in London is a long-standing public health crisis”

Philippe Glanville

But for some municipalities, the switch to electric vehicles in their localities is not only a question of reducing the consumption of fossil fuels. The mayor of Hackney LBC, Philip Glanville (Lab), chairman of the London councils transport and environment committee, told LGC: the capital. “


A big problem for municipalities can be finding the space to install a charging station. Many stand-alone chargers require a large location for installation. For urban areas, this can be particularly difficult, especially due to the need to keep sidewalks fully accessible. In London, a number of councils have used street charging stations that attach to lampposts, which offered a smoother and easier way to improve coverage. They fit into an existing structure and take up no space that could be used for other purposes, while making the most of the existing power supply.

Floor lamps are also useful for other purposes. Oxford City Council used them to assess the ideal location to place further charging infrastructure. Tom Hayes (Lab), a cabinet member for zero carbon, told LGC that some local authorities have struggled to find the best location for electric vehicle charging points. “So these local authority areas just don’t have easy strategies,” he said. “They don’t know where the shippers should go because they haven’t taken the first step to try to identify where [people] could generally lead or where they could generally stop.

“We installed sensors in the streetlights to understand where drivers can usually stop” k

Tom hayes

“We, for example, at Oxford, have installed sensors in streetlights to understand where drivers can typically stop,” said Cllr Hayes. This program allowed Oxford to introduce chargers at “critical points” where drivers might be most likely to need to charge their cars.

While finding space to install EV charging points is a practical consideration, the four councils that spoke to LGC on this issue stressed the importance of ensuring that rural or disadvantaged communities are not left behind. for account.

“An extensive, affordable and accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure [EVCI] is needed in Greater Manchester to provide affordable alternatives to home charging so that those without access to off-street parking are not at a disadvantage, ”said Jade Anderson, spokesperson for Transport for Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester CA has implemented an electric vehicle charging program since 2013, which began with the installation of chargers in local authority car parks. Now the program covers most of Greater Manchester and is growing rapidly.

When developing Plug In Suffolk, the network of charging stations put in place by Suffolk CC, the council knew it had to be mindful of ensuring comprehensive and appropriate coverage extended to rural areas of the county.

“We felt there was a need, especially in a rural county, to fill the gaps in the charging network,” said Richard Rout (Con), his finance and environment cabinet member. To remedy this, the council awarded grants to parish councils and town halls so that they could install charging stations. “There are at least 100 by the end of the year,” he said.

When considering the bids, the council was aware not to give permission to a bunch of charging points all in one location, leaving other areas of the county without access. The application process then involved “a mix of expressions of interest, balanced by geography but also of course by infrastructure,” said Cllr Rout.

Integration and interoperability

Ensuring that the system itself is as easy to use as possible is a major concern for boards bringing more EV infrastructure to the streets. Hopefully, this will encourage more drivers to switch to an EV when they buy their next car.

Ms. Anderson of TfGM said that “an integrated interoperable network of a range of suppliers open to the widest possible customer base will be more inclusive”.

“An integrated EVCI network is essential to ensure that EV users can move between charging points”

Jade Anderson

In order to make the network accessible to as many people as possible, it must be integrated. “One of the most important issues facing electric vehicle owners is the integration and communication between different charging point operators,” said Ms. Anderson. “And an integrated EVCI network is essential to ensure that EV users can move between charging points without the need for separate subscriptions.”

Interoperability has been a concern for Oxford in the development of its charging network. “We wanted to make sure that the chargers that arrive in our city are quickly fit for purpose, that they don’t cost an arm and a leg, that they are easy to use as much as possible, and that they are part of the business. ‘an interoperability system,’ said Cllr Hayes.

Likewise, creating a central system that residents could use to charge their cars was the idea behind the creation of Plug In Suffolk. The multiplicity of charging providers available and the different payment methods offered made residents frustrated and confused. “We [wanted] to introduce a network that was just really open, [where] you can use your debit card and load and go, ”Cllr Rout said.

Efficient integration has a profound effect on the perception of EV charging. “Charging electric vehicles can be one of two experiences,” said Cllr Hayes. “It can be joyful. The charger you want is available, you don’t have to wait, the charger is fast, and the connectivity to the charger is very, very simple.

“The other experience is hellish. You’ve found the charger, but you tip over and it’s either out of order or in use by someone else. If you wait and manage to get your hands on the charger, the charger may even stop working.

Cllr Hayes said Oxford’s approach to making sure the city’s charging experience is closer to the first than the second is to create an ‘fit-for-purpose EV infrastructure’ and properly integrated.

“The simple charging infrastructure is in place, but we have universal access. So the government and key billing [providers] working together to make sure that whether or not a charger is by a particular manufacturer, your car tells you that you can use it.

Experience and confidence of residents

Having a bad experience can undermine the confidence of drivers. For some advice, range anxiety – the driver’s fear that their charge will run out halfway through – can be a big factor for drivers avoiding EVs. To get around this problem, we must both communicate and ensure that the electric vehicle charging network has met the needs of residents.

“Not only does the supply have to be there, but you also have to have confidence in the charging network,” said Cllr Rout.

“Not only must the supply be there, but we must also have confidence in the charging network”

Richard Rout

“If you look at something like [charging point map] ZapMap, and you see in your part of rural Suffolk that there is no charger for 20 miles, then you won’t have that confidence to take the leap and realize that charging is not as difficult as you are. don’t think so initially. “

TfGM agrees, stressing the importance of ensuring that all arrangements are made for all residents. “We are working to ensure that disabled drivers are not excluded from the switch to electric vehicles because they cannot use the charging points,” he said. TfGM has a Disability Design Reference Group that it has worked with to develop design advice for the region’s DALY to make the network as accessible as possible.

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