UK needs eight times more EV chargers by 2035

Fully electric UK car parc would generate annual demand equivalent to 22pc of current total electricity generation, report finds

UK needs eight times more EV chargers by 2035
The UK is already behind government charging targets in some key areas

The UK must increase its public charging capacity by up to eight times to match the projected number of EVs on the road by 2035, according to new research from consultancy firm Field Dynamics.

The research assumes a 2035 scenario in which one third of all vehicles on UK roads are electric, at which point all new sales of road vehicles are required to be EVs.

"Assuming current utilisation and power delivery averages, the public charging network outputs an estimated 0.9TWh. Looking ahead to 2035, modelling a scenario where a third of the fleet is electric, suggests the network would need to be eight times larger than it is today," Field Dynamics writes.

But it does caveat its conclusion somewhat. "Of course, this does assume that EVs do not become more efficient, utilisation rates do not improve and vehicle usage stays the same. In reality, all these factors will move and different observers will have different views on how far they will move," it cautions

This latest research comes after early January findings from UK automotive services company the RAC, which found that the country's government "has fallen well short of its target of having six high-powered chargers at every motorway service area in England".

Future demand

The report also calculates that if all the cars and vans in Great Britain were converted to electric power overnight, the power demand would be 71TWh/yr, with 22 TWh of this from households without the potential for off-street charging who would most likely be dependent on the public network.

To further put these figures into context, the UK generated 325TWh of electricity in 2022. Field Dynamics finds that "if we envisage a fully electric fleet scenario, 22pc of this total would be required for vehicle charging demand, 7pc of this for on-street public chargers".

In total, Field Dynamics calculates that the UK will need 120,000 slow chargers, 234,000 fast chargers, 46,000 rapid chargers, and just under 40,000 ultra-rapid charger. The UK government's current stated target for installation is 300,000 total chargers by 2030.

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"I am not surprised by this conclusion — the numbers I heard so far, 300,000 seemed way too low compared for example to a much smaller country like the Netherlands where the 2030 aim is around 1 million public sockets already," says Charles Janssen, CCO of Dutch CPO Opcharge.

But while the UK's current charging targets might well be worth further scrutiny, argument remains about the necessary distribution of charger types going forward.

"I am not sure we need so many public sockets, as public chargers should be the charger of last resort. Most normal domestic and commute driving should be charged cheaply with domestic off-peak electricity," believes Ben Whittaker, co-founder of Kerbo Charge, a UK start-up that aims to bring the cost and conveniences factors of domestic charging to more properties that do not have a traditional off-street parking solution.

"Where households park on the street outside their homes without a driveway, we should be enabling domestic charging with safe in-pavement solutions," Whittaker continues. Greater rollout of these types of solution would have a significant impact not only the requisite number of public chargers required but also temporal distribution of demand — far more charging done overnight and well away from peak demand windows — and type of demand on the grid — longer charges at lower voltage.

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