Smart Transport

Scotland leads charge on electric vehicle infrastructure

Electric vehicle (EV) drivers in Scotland are benefiting from one of the fastest rollouts of rapid chargers in the UK, according to the most recent statistics.

There are now 12 such devices for every 100,000 people in Scotland, compared to a UK average of nearly seven.

The progress on EV infrastructure positions Scotland well as hosts of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, which runs between October 31 and November 12. 

The figures are contained in the latest update from the Department of Transport (DfT) and its Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV).

Across all charger types, Scotland is second only to London across the whole of the UK. 

There are 47 charging devices for every 100,000 people in Scotland, compared with an average of 36 for the rest of the country. London has 83 for every 100,000.

As March 2021, over 30,000 licensed vehicles in Scotland were classed as Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs), with the majority being either a pure Battery or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles.

The requirement for a widespread roll out of EV charging points is, in combination with more active travel and public transport use, essential to meet the Scottish government and UK’s net zero and carbon reduction targets.

The Scottish government has invested over £45 million to develop the ChargePlace Scotland Network, which provides over 1,900 public charge points across Scotland.

It is also taking a number of approaches to further grow and develop public EV charging infrastructure.

One such initiative is Project PACE, which has had £5.3m of Scottish government funding.

Led by SP Energy Networks and supported by North and South Lanarkshire Councils, Project PACE has installed 170 public EV charge points across 44 hub locations in Lanarkshire since summer 2020.

Using the expertise and insights of SP Energy Networks – part of the Scottish Power group – the initial planning phase of the project also demonstrated potential savings of £1.3m to £2.6m in the costs of connecting the EV charge points to the electricity grid across the sites.

Andy Robinson, head of fleets, infrastructure and low carbon consumers at Transport Scotland, said: “Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see we’re leading the way in charger provision outside of London, and taking forward exemplar initiatives such as project PACE.

“We’re looking at ways of extending this approach with our partners, as we seek to further accelerate the growth of public EV charging infrastructure in Scotland.

“As we transition to a net-zero economy and tackle the climate emergency it’s crucial we encourage people to consider walking, wheeling and cycling as the default choice of travel. 

“But we also know that some households will need to retain access to a car. And to support that we need to provide good quality, user-friendly infrastructure across all communities in Scotland, ensuring no one misses out on the benefits the switch to zero emission brings. The charging network, EV loans and public sector leadership are all helping us towards that.”

Over £120m has been provided through the Low Carbon Transport Loan to help people and businesses make the switch to ultra-low emission vehicles.

To help the public sector lead from the front, Transport Scotland has invested over £47m in 3,450 vehicles across the public sector fleet and is set to provide a further £12m this year.

It is also working with housing associations and other community groups to fund zero-emission car clubs, with investment of over £918,000, providing affordable access to modern zero-emission vehicles while reducing the need for personal car ownership.

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