Transport Minister Norman Baker has this week responded to a Parliamentary question with regards to the number of electric charging stations across the UK. It brings into account the government Plugged In Places programme which put aside £30 million for the introduction of more electric charging stations across the UK. This is something which has been ongoing for a couple of years now as the UK authorities look to encourage early stage use of electric vehicles right across the UK.
Government funding for the industry is an issue which has been in the headlines of late, especially when you bear in mind the US government's failed investment in Fisker, but it seems as though the UK government is getting a better return on electric car charging stations.
How many charging stations are there in the UK?
While the UK government is uncertain at this moment in time exactly how many charging stations have been installed across the country, it estimates around 4000 at this point in time. There has been a significant ramping up of installations since the turn of the year when the figure stood at around 2800 although we will need to see a major increase in this number in the years ahead if it is to support an electric car market of the size the government forecasts.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "In a move which has grabbed the limelight from London, the City of York Council has today announced plans for a pay-as-you-go electric car charging network within the city. There are already 12 such free charging points dotted around the area but this new network will take in a variety of public access areas."
Interestingly, at this moment in time it seems that only 65% of these charging points are available to the general public and only 50 are of the "rapid charging" variety. Rapid charging electric car stations will become a major element of the electric car market going forward because these effectively allow a much quicker partial recharge of your vehicle to extend your journey capacity.
Are there any more charging stations in the UK?
The government estimates there are a further 5000 charging points which have been installed by companies and individuals outside of the Plugged In Places programme. While this figure has yet to be confirmed, as the government plans a more in-depth report later this year, it does seem to indicate a greater willingness of the UK public and the UK corporate arena to become involved.
It will be interesting to see whether there are significant commercial returns available from these electric car charging stations because many motorists seem to assume they will be able to recharge for free. This will certainly not be the case in the long term although we may see a number of incentives in the short term to encourage electric car usage and installation of electric car charging points.
In many ways the fact that the government had not made the public aware of 4000 Plugged In Places electric charging points and a potential further 5000 privately installed electric car charging points, perfectly reflects the lack of media savvy. Indeed, it seems as though the UK government was unaware of these figures until it was asked a direct Parliamentary question to which the transport Minister Norman Baker replied.
At this moment in time around £10 million of the £30 million put aside for the Plugged In Places programme has been utilised so there is potential for a further 8000 government funded electric car charging stations. How long they will take to install remains to be seen although slowly but surely the infrastructure required to maximise usage of electric vehicles is dropping into place.