Ofgem to invest £300m into low carbon infrastructure projects
Motorway service areas and key trunk road locations across the UK set to get the cabling required to install 1,800 new ultra-rapid charge points, tripling the current network, thanks to a £300 million investment from Ofgem.
A further 1,750 charge points will be supported in towns and cities to support the new demand for electricity as drivers make the switch from petrol and diesel to electric.
The investment will be delivered in the next two years and is part of a much bigger plan to ensure Britain has the energy infrastructure it needs to support the move to low carbon transport and heating while maintaining secure supplies. The magnitude of this investment is expected to be in the order of over £40 billion through Ofgem’s regulation of energy networks.
Every region in Britain will benefit from the announcement, with 204 net zero projects worth £300.5 million across England, Scotland and Wales. These shovel-ready, low carbon projects start this year, supporting clean transport and heat, and opening up local electricity grids to take on more low carbon generation.
While electric car ownership is on the rise, Ofgem research has found that 36% of households that do not intend to get an electric vehicle are put off making the switch over a lack of charging points near their home. An extensive motorway charging network and more charging points in cities and train stations will help address this ‘range anxiety’, so Ofgem is accelerating investment to boost charge point installation.
Cities like Glasgow, Kirkwall, Warrington, Llandudno, York and Truro will benefit from increased network capacity to support more ultra-rapid charge points, increased renewable electricity generation and the move to more electric heating for homes and businesses. Investment also covers more rural areas with charging points for commuters at train stations in North and Mid Wales and the electrification of the Windermere ferry.
Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said: “This £300 million down payment is just the start of building back a greener energy network which will see well over £40 billion of investment in Britain’s energy networks in the next seven years.
“The payment will support the rapid take up of electric vehicles which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets. Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to. We’re paving the way for the installation of 1,800 ultra-rapid charge points, tripling the number of these public charge points. Drivers will have more charging options for longer journeys.
“In the year that Glasgow hosts the COP26 climate summit, the energy networks are rising to the challenge and working with us and partners to accelerate projects that can start now, benefiting consumers, boosting the economy and creating jobs.”
David Smith, chief executive at ENA, which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses, said: “With just a few months left until COP26 we are delighted to have been able to bring forward such a crucial enabler of the Prime Minister’s green recovery ambitions. Delivering a green recovery for seas, skies and streets, over £300m of electricity distribution network investment will enable wide-ranging projects which help tackle some of our biggest Net Zero challenges, like electric vehicle range anxiety and the decarbonisation of heavier transport.
“This new funding shows the social, economic and environmental benefits that can be brought forward by industry working closely with a flexible regulator.”
Ofgem, the Energy Networks Association and each of the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) launched a call for evidence in February for energy networks to come forward with projects that could help Britain reach net zero emissions faster and support the economy as the country comes out of the pandemic.
Last year, Ofgem announced its greenest ever price control with billions invested into network companies and the system operator from April this year. The regulator has also indicated that it will allow billions more investment and better use of flexible technologies and innovations for the local electricity networks from 2023.