Ofgem Gives Green Light to Boost Wales’ Electric Vehicle Charge Points
Ofgem, the energy regulator, has approved 17 net zero projects valued at around £ 12 million across Wales. These shovel-ready, low-carbon projects begin this year and support clean transportation and heat, as well as opening up local power grids to achieve lower-carbon generation. This is part of an Ofgem approved £ 300.5 million investment in net zero projects across the UK.
Three major motorway service areas on the M4 and major highway locations across Wales will receive the cabling they need to install over 500 new public charging points, including 71 new ultra-fast charging points. Currently only 0.17% of vehicles used in Wales are electric.
Today’s investment will support new charges for the entire M4 with the potential for local renewable energy generation. It will also initiate the infrastructure needed to support charging stations at key transportation hubs, including train stations, in North and Mid Wales.
Research by Ofgem shows that 36% of UK households that do not want to buy an electric vehicle are shut down due to a lack of charging stations near their home. An extensive motorway charging system and more charging stations in cities and train stations will help allay these fears. A stronger infrastructure opens up the possibility of smaller renewable generators, for example where farms want to install solar or wind power systems in neighboring motorway supply areas.
Across Wales, today’s announcement means that cities like Talbot Green, Cardiff and Llandudno will benefit from increased network capacity to support ultra-fast charging stations, increased electricity generation from renewable sources and the move to more electric heating for homes and businesses.
This phase of Ofgem’s Green Recovery program focuses on the local power grids within the current price control. Ofgem is working with the transmission and gas distribution companies to develop additional opportunities within their recently confirmed funding agreements.
Jonathan Brearley, General Manager of Ofgem, said::
“The rapid introduction of electric vehicles is essential if Wales is to meet its climate goals. Drivers need to be sure that they can quickly charge their car when needed. We’re paving the way for the installation of charging stations that will benefit drivers at motorway service stations on the M4 and 17 other strategic highways, as well as commuters using eight train stations in North and Mid Wales.
“In the year of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, energy grids are rising to the challenge and working with us and partners to accelerate projects that can start now, benefiting consumers, stimulating the economy and creating jobs . “
Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change Julie James said:
“Building resilient energy infrastructure is key to achieving our goal of zero emissions by 2050. This is a welcome investment and I look forward to working with Ofgem to develop the grid we need for a fairer, low carbon future need.”
David Smith, Managing Director of ENA, which represents the UK and Irish energy network business, said:
“With only a few months left until COP26, we are delighted that we have been able to advance the prime minister’s ambitions for an environmentally friendly recovery so decisively. By providing a greener recovery for seas, skies and roads, investing in an electricity distribution network of over £ 300M can enable far-reaching projects that will help address some of our biggest Net Zero challenges, such as the fear of electric vehicle range and the decarbonization of heavy transportation deal with.
“This new funding demonstrates the social, economic and environmental benefits that industry can achieve by working closely with a flexible regulator.”
Keith Bell, member of the Climate Change Committee, said:
“This joint initiative by Ofgem and the electricity distribution network companies is a welcome development and shows flexibility in the regulatory agreements in the long-term interest of energy consumers. On the way to Net Zero, we have to make it as easy as possible for people to get along without their cars with internal combustion engines. Electric vehicles are always looking more attractive, but we need to make sure they can be charged easily. This means that the right infrastructure – charging stations and network capacity – is in the right place at the right time.
“Network investments not only enable electric vehicle charging and the electrification of heat, but also support supply chains and, if projects require an expansion of the workforce, the creation of new jobs. It will be an essential complement to a smarter power grid, where innovative information technology and attractive energy tariffs for consumers ensure that we get the most out of our power grid infrastructure. “
Ofgem, the Energy Networks Association and each of the Distribution System Operators (DNOs) launched a call for evidence on energy networks in February to come up with projects that could help the UK achieve net zero emissions faster and support the economy, when the country comes out of the country the pandemic.
Last year Ofgem announced its most environmentally friendly price control to date, investing billions in network companies and the system operator from April this year. The regulator has also announced that it will enable billions in more investments and better use of flexible technologies and innovations for local power grids from 2023 onwards.