The number of public electric vehicle charge points rose by 7% (1,288 charge points) in the fourth quarter of 2020 to a total of 20,775 across the UK.
London had the largest absolute increase with 500 new charge points (39% of the 1,288 charge points), which further increases the uneven geographical distribution of charge points within the UK.
However, Wales had the largest percentage increase with 19% (from 675 charge points in the previous quarter to 804 in Q4).
Rapid charge points accounted for 350 of the 1,288 new charge points in Q4, taking the total number across the UK to 3,880.
In every region, except for Northern Ireland, rapid devices increased across the quarter with the largest percentage increase (14%) in the East of England, while the north-east had a 10.3% increase.
The Department for Transport (DfT), which publishes the statistics on a quarterly basis, puts the regional differences down to infrastructure being market-led, with individual charging networks and other businesses, such as hotels, choosing where to install devices.
It also points out that “some UK local authorities have bid for UK Government funding for charging devices, and others have not”.
The DfT recently announced that the On-Street Residential Grant Scheme (ORCS) will continue in 2021-22, with a further £20 million allocated for local authorities to install charge points.
Since its inception in 2017, more than 140 local authority projects have benefitted from the scheme, which has supported applications for nearly 4,000 charge points across the UK.
However, think-tank Policy Exchange suggests in its recent report, Charging Up, that the current annual rate of charge point installations is too slow.
It estimates that by 2030, when the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans ends, there will need to be 400,000 charge points.
It has five key recommendations for the Government:
- In areas that are underserved, it should procure charge points through competitive tenders.
- It should fund dedicated ‘Chargepoint Teams’ inside Local Authorities.
- At key locations, it should tender for high-powered chargepoints and associated ‘strategic grid connections’.
- Where chargepoints receive public support, it should regulate the maximum price charged.
- Where chargepoints receive public support, they must be easy to use and reliable.