In an ever-evolving landscape of electric vehicle infrastructure, navigating challenges and harnessing opportunities demands a strategic approach. We are delighted to present a Q&A session with Ms Liz Allan, an industry veteran and Managing Director at Full Circle Continuous Improvement Ltd. With over two decades of expertise in Lean principles and process enhancement across diverse sectors, Liz Allan is primed to address the common hurdles plaguing professionals in the EV charging infrastructure.
Delve into a comprehensive discussion touching upon the evolving UK EV infrastructure, regulatory transformations, job creation, environmental impacts, and strategies for public engagement. Liz Allan's wealth of experience promises a roadmap toward operational excellence in the dynamic realm of EV infrastructure.
#LEVS: What are the key challenges and opportunities in the EV infrastructure industry today?
Liz Allan: The electric vehicle infrastructure industry in the UK is currently facing a landscape full of challenges and opportunities.
Some of the challenges relate to understanding how to increase public EV adoption, which ultimately means boosting public confidence in not just the need for electric vehicles due to the high levels of air pollution across the UK, but also helping the public to understand the impact on those towns and cities with high levels of pollution and the numbers of people suffering from road traffic-related air pollution illnesses.
Of even greater importance is the need to decarbonise transport to reduce the high levels of carbon emitted from fossil fuel burning vehicles, crucial in achieving Net Zero to limit climate change.
Equally critical alongside public health concerns is the vital importance of decarbonising transport. This effort is key to reducing the high levels of carbon emissions from fossil fuel vehicles, a vital step in our journey towards achieving Net Zero and combating climate change.
Evaluating the UK's Expanding Charging Network
We currently have over 50,0000 charging points across the UK, and as EV adoption increases, so will the need for more charging points. The perception from Joe and Joanne public, often non-EV drivers, is that the charging infrastructure is currently unable to provide the required service.
Some unreliable networks are out there, but no one starts in business meaning to do a lousy job. Over time, the less reliable companies will start losing money and falling by the roadside (excuse the pun) as no one will use them.
#LEVS: What are some of the key regulatory and policy challenges faced by the EV infrastructure sector, and how can they be addressed?
Liz Allan: The new UK Charge Point Regulations, which come into effect on 24th November, have a phased introduction of various elements and requirements, starting with the need for mandatory pricing metrics to be visually displayed for the end user.
In 12 months, from November 2024, charge points will also provide contactless payment, proof that all charge points are 99% reliable and charge point operators will also provide a 24/7 customer helpline.
I want to point out here that many fabulous charge point operators currently provide a very reliable service. These reliable networks will increase as the standardisation of services comes into place in the future.
#LEVS: How can the UK boost job creation and skill development in its EV sector effectively?
Liz Allan: The amount of investment into the charging infrastructure from both government and private organisations cannot be sniffed at. The members of Charge UK, the UK body representing charge point operators, have pledged over £6bn in investment, which will keep things moving at pace over the next few years.
The potential for skills development and job creation within the EV and EV charging sector is substantial. We will see the emergence of thousands of new job opportunities in the coming years, demonstrating the sector's significant impact on the employment landscape.
Teams will be essential not only for installing charging networks but also for their maintenance and for analysing data on EV usage and charging patterns, insights that are crucial for future infrastructure development.
Additionally, traditional automotive technicians will undergo training in electric vehicle repair and maintenance, this reflects the evolving needs of the industry.
The demand for urban planning, inclusive of EV charging solutions in both urban and rural settings will rise.
Alongside this, customer service teams across the sector will expand, focusing on specialised troubleshooting for different vehicles and charging networks.
These emerging roles and the training they require highlight the EV and EV charging sectors' substantial contributions to the job market. They represent not just new career opportunities but also the reskilling of current professionals to adapt to this rapidly growing sector.
#LEVS: What is the true environmental impact comparison between Electric Vehicles (EVs) and fossil fuel vehicles, considering emissions during operation and manufacturing, particularly in relation to the source of electricity for EVs?
Liz Allan: As part of the need to increase EV adoption, we also need to ensure that the public understands the truth about the environmental impact of electric vehicles compared to a car using fossil fuels.
Fossil Fuel Vehicles burning petrol or diesel directly emit carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. During the manufacturing process, they also contribute to additional carbon emissions.
Electric Vehicles produce zero emissions if the electricity used to power the car comes from renewable sources such as wind or solar; this remains at around zero emissions.
If the electricity used to power the EV comes from fossil fuels, there is an indirect carbon impact, but it will be lower than fossil fuel-burning vehicles.
EVs have a higher carbon emission during manufacturing due to the production of lithium-ion batteries. However, over the vehicle’s lifespan, the initial carbon footprint is more than offset by reduced emissions.
As the UK electricity grid becomes greener, the emissions of EVs will significantly decrease as more renewable energy sources are integrated into the grid.
#LEVS: How do events like the London EV Show contribute to the growth and development of the EV infrastructure sector?
Liz Allan: Events such as the London EV Show provide organisations with the ability to showcase innovation and technology and provide opportunities for stakeholders from various areas of the EV Infrastructure.
EV and EV Charging manufacturers, EV charging networks and related areas can create partnerships and collaborate in the development and implementation of the EV infrastructure.
It also provides a level of public engagement and awareness by increasing the public awareness about the benefits of EVs, which is essential for boosting public adoption and support.