Ofgem approves £300m upgrade for electric vehicle charging expansion

Energy regulator Ofgem said approved a £300 million upgrade to expand the UK’s electric vehicle charging network.

The watchdog said the funding – which is part of a wider £40 billion commitment – will go towards more than 200 low-carbon projects across the UK to help the country prepare for more electric transport.

It said it will partly support installing cables needed to launch “1,800 new ultra-rapid charge points”, tripling the current network.

A further 1,750 charging points will be installed in towns and cities across the UK, it added.

The upgrade will be directed by Ofgem using investment from the Energy Networks Association (ENA), which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses.

Ofgem said the investment, which will take place over the next two years, reflects the fact that Britain’s cables, substations and other infrastructure “need a massive upgrade” to cope with an expanded surge in demand.

Places such as Glasgow, Kirkwall, Warrington, Llandudno, York and Truro will benefit from increased network capacity as a result of the investment, it added.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said: “The payment will support the rapid take-up of electric vehicles which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets.

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“Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to.

“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.”

Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “I warmly welcome today’s news from Ofgem, which will greatly improve the resilience of our charging network as we build back greener.

“With more than 500,000 electric cars now on UK roads, this will help to increase this number even further as drivers continue to make the switch to cleaner, greener vehicles.”

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David Smith, chief executive of Energy Networks Association (ENA), 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 £300 million 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.”