Five local authorities are joining forces with the UK’s biggest electricity network operator in a bid to end Electric Vehicle (EV) charging blackspots.

Charge Collective, a pilot project being launched by UK Power Networks, will see it partner with local councils in Cambridge, Norwich and London to help ensure nobody is left behind in the EV revolution.

The aim is to ensure that everyone has the confidence to switch to EVs, regardless of where they live or what parking space they have. By sharing data and expertise, the local authorities will help UK Power Networks to identify charge point blackspots. The network operator will then hold a competition to incentivise investors to bid at the lowest cost to deliver the priority charge points.
Taking such a co-ordinated approach aims to make it more financially viable for charge point operators to create a wider network of public chargers, so that all communities can achieve the charging infrastructure they need.

UK Power Networks will collaborate with Cambridge City and Cambridgeshire County Councils, Norwich City Council, Norfolk County Council and the London Borough of Redbridge. They will work together to identify areas that have yet to install enough electric vehicle chargers and would benefit from improved air quality. These areas are likely to be in towns, with denser populations and less off-street parking.

The innovative scheme will also develop a framework to measure the wider environmental and social benefits of better air quality and reduced emissions that come with more people driving EVs. In November last year the UK Government unveiled its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and enable the country to meet its target to reduce carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2050. Transport remains the biggest cause of pollution in the UK, accounting for 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The pace of EV uptake is accelerating, with 3.6 million EVs forecasted to connect to UK Power Networks’ system by 2030.

Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UK Power Networks said: “Electricity networks have a key role in enabling the uptake of electric vehicles so that the country can meet its Net Zero commitments. This project is going to help us discover how we can support our communities to get more charge points into areas that need them at the lowest cost to consumers, ensuring that nobody is left behind.”

Charge Collective will help assess how much of a discount to connect to the electricity network is required, to encourage charge point installers to invest in areas where the market is struggling to deliver today. It will be a model that could be scaled up across the country if successful.

Councillor Kevin Maguire, cabinet member for safe and sustainable city environment at Norwich City Council, said: “The Charge Collective project will help our city to identify barriers to EV take-up especially in areas of high density housing. It’s important that the electrification of transport is socially inclusive and benefits all sectors of society”.

Norfolk County Council’s two key portfolio leads for the Environment and Transport, Cllr Andy Grant, cabinet member for environment and waste, and Cllr Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said in a joint statement: “As we move towards a low carbon future, cleaner transport has an important role to play. Building on successful work by Transport for Norwich which has seen cycle use increase by 40% in recent years and the introduction of e-scooters, electric vehicles will be a key part of our strategy in the years ahead. This project seeks to enable and encourage providers to invest in Norfolk, which is crucial if we are to have the charging network we need to support a greener economic future.”

Local authorities in London, the East and South East of England that would like to find out more about the project can email innovation@ukpowernetworks.co.uk