Britain has just announced the world’s first national EV charging network, according to the British paper The Guardian. Before we get too excited though, let’s delve into the particulars. Will they be free to use? Check. Will they be green? Check—every one of them will run on wind power. Will they be available in every part of the country? Check.
Interestingly, Britain will be installing these stations on the highways, not in the cities. Writes Dale Vince in the Guardian:
The big focus to date, with charging posts, has been town and city centres – I think this is actually where they are needed the least. Car use statistics point to this…the average car in Britain travels around 20 miles a day, a distance that most modern electric cars can sustain for almost a week without needing to charge. And most car owners have access to off-street parking (70% apparently) – and therefore are able to charge at home, at night. Most cars won’t need to charge, most days. It’s the longer journeys where charging is needed most.
Vince argues that the stations will encourage more Britons to purchase EVs and get Britain started on the path to an EV future. He continues to make his case regarding the effects of more EVs on the power grid:
Can the grid take it? It would require an increase in electricity delivered through the grid of about 12%, far less than most people think. And for context, prior to the credit crunch, grid-delivered electricity grew by around 3% a year (so we’re talking just four years’ normal growth to power all the UK’s cars). And most charging will take place at night, at times of low demand. The grid can easily cope, in fact if Britain switched to electric vehicles the grid would operate more efficiently.
He’s talking about if all 28 million of Britain’s cars were EVs, and we should note he’s factoring in the growth and advancement of energy technology (which, to be clear, he should). I should also qualify that Vince is the founder of Ecotricity—the company installing the stations—so he’s obviously got a vested interest in this project and is probably using the most rosy numbers he can find. Nonetheless, Vince makes some good points, and the following tidbit rings especially true to this writer:
One of the truly revolutionary aspects of electric cars is that we can all be our own oil companies – we can make our own electricity – and power our own cars…given this, perhaps in due course, the “anxiety” around electric cars will pass from motorists to the oil companies.
Ultimately I think Britain is making a bold and intelligent decision here. Bold because there are currently only 2,000 EVs on British roads out of the country’s 28 million cars, intelligent because it is making sure the charging stations are truly green while reducing their fossil fuel consumption and kick-starting the technology of the future.
It’s nice to see some good news coming out of the country in the wake of the truly saddening riots ravaging London. Let’s hope the only revolution coming out of Britain is a green energy one, and let’s hope Britain’s EV example will inspire other countries to follow suit (like the Green Highway being installed in the Pacific Northwest? -Ed.) and provide a better and more secure future not just for the U.K., but for every country in the world.