ECA welcomes new EV strategy, but warns of potential dangers from low standards

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  Posted by: electime      30th March 2022

Leading electrotechnical and engineering services body ECA has broadly welcomed the Government’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, published on Friday 25 March 2022.

However, the body has warned that the Government’s focus on “market-led” strategy and lack of joined-up policy with local authorities could jeopardise the quality and safety of EV charge point installations and encourage a ‘race-to-the-bottom’ approach.

In a freedom of information request to local authorities in England and Wales in late 2021, ECA found that almost two thirds had no real plans to install public EV charge points, and over half did not have any funding earmarked for EV infrastructure.

Comments revealed a lack of ‘joined-up’ policy from central Government hindered progress. One local authority representative said, “One of the barriers [to EVCP installation] is the uncoordinated approach – it’s not joined-up enough.”

Andrew Eldred, ECA Director of Workforce and Public Affairs, said: “There is a lot to be positive about in this latest strategy, and ECA is pleased to see that the government is trying to address the ‘postcode lottery’ in EV charging across the UK.

“But this strategy’s heavy onus on industry and local authorities to do the bulk of the groundwork to roll out EV infrastructure could hinder any kind of consistency in coverage and quality.

“Safe, high-quality electrical work needs to be done by electrically competent people. We know for a fact that our industry is ready to rise to the challenge of Net Zero. But a purely ‘market-led’ policy can lead to a race to the bottom on cost, and a drop in quality follows. This will inevitably compromise the efficiency and safety of what gets installed.”

The rate of EV sales in the UK is growing rapidly. Sixty-six per cent more EVs were sold in 2020 than 2019, totaling more than 175,000 vehicle registrations. According to EV charge point app ZapMap, there are currently just over 30,000 public charge points in the UK. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) estimates 2.3 million charge points will be needed in the UK by 2030 to keep up with predicted demand.

The UK electrotechnical sector employs over 230,000 electricians, with a further 30,000 electrical apprentices currently in training. Last week, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) approved a new domestic electrician apprenticeship standard, incorporating the full training and qualification for installation of domestic electric vehicle charging points.

ECA’s 2,700 Member businesses, with a combined turnover of over £4 billion, ranging from SMEs to large, nationwide contracting businesses, are at the forefront of grid decarbonisation and the electrification of heat and transport.