‘Norway model’ call to boost UK tenant charging access
Giving power to renters rather than landlords could reduce obstacles to EV adoption
Lobby group Recharge UK is calling for the country’s tenants to gain a louder voice in requesting provision of EV charging in their shared properties. A recent report from the EV arm of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology detailing its roadmap for electrification suggests lessons to be learnt from Norway.
“What we want to do is empower tenants to push landlords to [ask for charge points to be installed] or request it themselves,” says Matthew Adams, primary author of the report.
There is a government grant scheme already in place, the electric vehicle chargepoint grant established in April 2022, which financially supports landlords through installing charge points at their properties. However, according to data compiled by the UK's Department for Transport, the scheme has only sponsored 2,347 sockets since its establishment.
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Given the “low uptake” Adams notes, the report suggests mimicking a successful Norwegian policy, which endows tenants with the right to apply for charging point installation themselves. This policy allows tenants can have charging infrastructure installed at their residences if the costs are not seen as “unreasonable”, which, in the Norwegian model, comes in at anywhere under c.£4,225.
“As long as the grid connection fees are reasonable, the idea would be that the tenant would pay for the charge point, but the tenants of the entire block would pay for the grid connection fees,” says Adams. The Norwegian model is that, instead of simply installing the number of charge points initially requested, additional wiring and equipment is put in at the same time so that it is future proofed.
“Other tenants can then install charge points without having to pay [separately] for those same grid connection fees,” says Adams. “It works out for everyone because, at some point, everyone is going to have to have an EV.”
And it is also attractive to future tenants, even if not all current residents feel the need to ask for a charge point at initial installation. “When you are looking for somewhere and it has already got the potential for a charging point in place… you do not have to pay for grid connections and you will just pay the one-off fee instead.”
The Norway model is, Adams admits, not a perfect match across to the UK. “The problem in the UK is we have a lot of multi-occupancy buildings but not all of them have car parks. This, as a translation from the Norwegian perspective, would be more difficult to employ in some circumstances.
“It is the responsibility of everyone in the EV sector and government to work out what we do for people who do not have access to carparks in some multi-purpose buildings, as it does become a lot more difficult to park and charge your vehicle,” Adams says.
A tenant will also still have to pay for the requested charger and their share of grid connection. But some help would be at hand. “A tenant would be eligible for the grant scheme through the landlord, so they would have to pay about £650, but the average charge point without that grant — if that was to expire — would be about £1,000,” Adams continues. But that upfront capital outlay can then begin to be recovered.
“That cost in time would be recouped through low energy bills versus petrol,” Adams says. “You could also make the most of flexi-tariffs at night and reduce it further.”
And, as long as a tenant installs a charger compatible with future developments in v-2-x, there could be additional benefits. “In time, as the grid develops, you can start exporting power back to the grid or back to your home and either saving money or taking money off your bill.”
Another potential solution for tenants in multi-occupancy properties is so-called ‘community charging’, where local residents share access to charging that is not private to them but also not fully public. The advantage of these options is that it offers a way around a quirk in the UK tax regime where private charging, because it is recognised as an extension of a customer’s domestic energy supply, attracts only 5pc in VAT, but public charging has a 20pc tax charge.
The anomaly is “so odd”, in Adams’ view, “when the service is the same at the end of the day”. But, unfortunately, responsibility for changing it would lie with the UK’s finance ministry and it is “not moving on it” at present, Adams understands.