Europe’s largest renewable energy producer has today launched into the UK’s EV charging market in a bid to accelerate much-needed infrastructure deployment.
Mer – part of Norwegian renewable energy giant Statkraft – has set its sights on an underserved area of the country’s EV charging infrastructure – but one that is critical if the UK is to meet its ambitious zero-emission driving targets.
Mer is focused on getting charging stations into businesses, organisations, key retail locations and into areas managed by local authorities where there will be high usage – like residential streets where people don’t have driveways or garages – up and down the UK.
Experience from Norway
Mer, which has already installed more than 100 chargers into these areas, brings with it the experience of running similar programmes in Norway – Europe’s market leader for EV ownership where last year more than half of new car sales (54%) were electric – a global first.
While there has been a significant acceleration of charging points installed along motorway networks and main roads, as well as into people’s driveways and garages, until now the push for inclusion into workplaces and other high-use public areas has largely faltered.
Indeed, many experts are worried the UK’s rollout of widespread EV charging infrastructure is not moving fast enough to support the transition to electric vehicles by the 2030 deadline the Government has set for the ban on new diesel and petrol cars and vans.
The Policy Exchange think tank, for example, published their ‘Charging Up’ report in February this year saying the country will need 400,000 public chargers by 2030 to meet demand, up from the 35,000 now in place.
Many of these chargers will need to go into locations which are currently underserved by other commercial charging companies – high footfall locations like residential areas where people don’t have off-street parking and where alternative on-street solutions are needed.
Mer aims to change that, with class-leading technology, expertise and funding models that can support businesses and communities looking to shift towards guilt free, CO2-free driving.
Commenting on the launch, Mer UK Managing Director Anthony Hinde, said: “The UK Government has set ambitious targets for the switch to zero-emission vehicles, especially with the announcement of the 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars.”
“This target is absolutely achievable, but it will require a fundamental shift in how the UK’s EV charging infrastructure is developed. Home and on-the-road chargers remain fundamental aspects of the UK’s EV charging network, but if we just focus on that, we won’t succeed.
“The lessons we have learned from Norway – where the majority of new car sales are now electric – is that installing EV chargers into workplaces and more broadly into community locations, and switching fleet vehicles to electric, will be a critical element to the success of the green-vehicle transition.”
Although continuing to fall, Transport remains the biggest contributor to the UK’s CO2 emissions, accounting for around 34% of the total, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in their report this year.
Mer aims to help make charging EVs in the UK easier
This drive to put more chargers into workplaces is crucial, because with salary sacrifice schemes and other incentives meaning that more and more company vehicles and fleets are switching to electric, not everyone is in the position to install a personal charging point at their home.
Workplace chargers help solve both these problems – allowing people to recharge their batteries while their car sits in the car park during work hours. For employers, being able to offer this charging facility as an added incentive for recruitment or retention is a bonus as well as demonstrating their commitment to sustainability.
Mer – formerly known as Gronn Kontakt UK – also works with organisations like local councils to enable on-street charging in underserved areas. For example, Mer is part of the Scaling On-Street Charging Infrastructure Project (SOSCI) in the North of England – where the aim is to put on-street chargers within five-mins walk of communities where off-street parking isn’t an option.
However, it’s not just with private vehicles that there is a need to transition to EVs – commercial vehicles too are increasingly poised to switch to zero-emissions. A report from the Department of Transport from earlier this year – here – into van usage in the country showed how 50% of commercial vans rarely travel more than 15 miles from their base, while a further 34% don’t travel more than 50 miles from their base, each day.
These figures suggest the switch to EVs is feasible. However, when questioned as to why more businesses weren’t adopting EVs as their fleet vehicle of choice, most respondents cited – aside from cost to buy – either assumptions about a lack of range, or the lack of charging points.
Anthony Hinde, added: “Again, we are seeing this fear of running out of power as a key driver for reduced uptake – and it’s here that Mer UK can and will help.
“For businesses, switching from diesel to EVs should be an easy choice – they are not just cheaper to run in terms of total cost of ownership, but they make such a positive impact on the environment which is rapidly becoming a key differentiator when it comes to doing business.”
Mer, which sources all its energy from 100% renewable and traceable sources, is already working with several local authorities across the UK, as well as blue-chip firms, delivery fleets and recently forged a partnership with one of the UK’s biggest motoring associations to offer customer support 24/7.