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Ban on Fossil Fuelled vehicles to be Brought Forward

The UK Government intends to prohibit the sale of vehicles using fossil fuel from as early as 2030 according to sources. The 10 year reduction in the existing timeline for removing petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040 will form a key part of efforts to achieve a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.

Sources in the energy and transport industries believe the official announcement will come later in 2020. It has been delayed as the government toils with its efforts to track and trace coronavirus infections. However, the fast tracking of electric vehicles will form be one of a number of policies aimed at bouncing the economy back from the Covid-19 crisis on “green” foundations. Speaking at the Conservative party Annual Conference the Primate Minister Boris Johnson laid out his green ambitions by bolding claiming that offshore wind farms will generate sufficient electricity to power every home in the UK within a decade.

In regards to transport the move away from the internal combustion engine is supported by the Committee on Climate Change and will be part of a wider plan, that hopefully features some joined up thinking on charging infrastructure. How else will the country achieve its goal of carbon neutrality within the legally binding timeframe? The UK’s minister for clean energy, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, announced that the Government’s long overdue energy white paper will be published in the Autumn.

Its believed that wider use of clean hydrogen will support heavy industry’s move towards a more environmentally sustainable future. Industry insiders also indicate that small, modular nuclear reactors will form part of the strategy.

When Will Other Countries Ban Fossil Fuelled Vehicles?

Ending the sale of new fossil fuelled vehicles by 2030 will only move the UK in line with our European counterparts in Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands. Norway will impose the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2025. However, we will move ahead of France by 10 years. At the moment our Gallic neighbours still intend to dispense with fossil fuelled vehicles by 2040.

Can the National Grid Cope with the Extra Demand from Electric Cars?

The increased speed in the rollout of electric vehicles on British roads has caused concern that the National Grid will be unable to cope with the extra demand. After all it was as recent as November 2015 when businesses were asked to cut their demand due to a number of failures at coal plants. There have also been a series of set backs and delays with efforts to build new nuclear plants. However assurances have been given that the UK’s infrastructure will be ready.

The Director in charge of National Grid’s electric vehicle project Graeme Cooper believes that any fears regarding the UK electricity grid’s ability to cope are unfounded. He was confident that a faster transition to electric vehicle charging on a mass scale is possible. He described the grid’s electricity infrastructure as “suitably robust” with the capacity to cope with an increase in demand.

Electrifying all road transport other than HGVs would increase the energy requirements of Great Britain by less than a third of current demand levels that currently sit at around 300 terawatt hours. According to Cooper the grid “could easily cope with” this jump with targeted investment. Peak electricity demand periods in the early evening could lead to demand for electricity climbing by 10% if the majority of drivers charge their vehicles overnight. Therefore, spending on rapid charging facilities in convenient locations is likely to be required to encourage day time charging away from the home in order to prevent this being the case.

Is the UK’s Charging Infrastructure Ready For Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles

Even before news broke that the deadline for selling fossil fuelled vehicles could be brought forward to as soon as 2030 The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) expressed concern that the UK’s charging infrastructure wouldn’t be ready. The Trade body calculated that £16.7bn would need to be invested in charging facilities. That figure broke down to the installation of 507 chargers every day when the date in mind was 2035.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said then, “We need to throw the kitchen sink at the issue of charging.” He argued for over provision to convince buyers that do not have off-street parking of the merits of EV’s and overcome concerns regarding convenience. This development could of course be funded by local councils, government or business. With several private companies, including large oil companies making moves into the market there is hope that the number of charging stations will begin to increase dramatically.

Are Consumers Keen on Electric Vehicles?

Demand for EVs has been growing steadily in recent years. Registrations for pure EVs in the first nine months of 2020 are up 127% year on year. September 2020 saw the total number on UK roads reach just over 164,000. Plug-in vehicles including PHEVs add another 373,000 to that figure. The SMMT calculate that pure electric models make up 6.7% of all new car purchases. The addition of PHEVs increases that number to 10.5%.

However, there are also signs that the Covid-19 crisis may affect the affordability of EV’s for consumers. Currently, the vehicles are significantly more expensive than their fossil fuelled equivalents. A survey by vehicle advertising platform Auto Trader found that the percentage of consumers thinking about purchasing a pure EV dropped from 16% in January of this year to just 4% in September. Around half of those questioned stated their financial position had worsened due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Although this hasn’t fed through into a dramatic drop off in the number of EVs being bought, time may tell.

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