How The Public Sector Can Turn Electric Transport Ambitions And Charging Strategies Into Reality – Mer

How The Public Sector Can Turn Electric Transport Ambitions And Charging Strategies Into reality - Mer

The public sector is seen as the driving force for many of the UK’s green initiatives. This responsibility comes with many challenges, Sam Illsley, Head of Public Sector at Mer, looks at how the public sector can turn electric transport ambitions and charging strategies into reality.

From recycling domestic waste to decarbonising public sector buildings and encouraging low carbon businesses, the public sector is seen as leading the charge towards net zero. This is certainly true when it comes to transport, in particular the transition to electric vehicles (EVs).

Why is this responsibility falling to the public sector? Apparently, because we want it to, at least according to the government’s own consultation on the ‘Future of Transport Regulatory Review: zero mission vehicles’ published last October. There is, the review says; “overwhelming support for a body or group of bodies to be responsible for planning and ensuring provision of charge points, (and) widespread support for that group of bodies to be local authorities.”

The benefits of a cohesive EV charge point installation strategy address two key challenges that local authorities face: the duty to provide effective transport policies and air quality management. The transition to electric mobility tackles both and, as the adoption of EVs gathers pace, there’s a growing need for adequate charging infrastructure across the UK.

That said, developing EV charging infrastructure is far from plain sailing. With so many moving parts involved in designing, installing and maintaining EV charging hubs, it’s no surprise that local authorities, the emergency services and other public sector transport fleets are engaging charge point operators with commercial fleet expertise, like Mer, to help drive their EV charging initiatives.

Electric mobility for all

Councils the length and breadth of the country, from Durham County Council to the New Forest District Council, have engaged Mer to install and manage public charge point hubs. Making e-mobility accessible to all has to include people who don’t have a driveway or other off-street parking. For this, the Government’s On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) provides support in the shape of advice and funding for local authorities to deliver electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure for residents without off-street parking.

Accessibility is essential. For all charge points, domestic and commercial, there’s a need to consider the design and location of the charge points, and ensure they are available to all users. This may involve including wheelchair accessibility, parking bay widths and access to wider paths and pavements for other users. It’s also important to consider lighting, CCTV arrangements and placement of the charge points on a given site for the safety of charge point users.

Fleets and commercial EVs

As well as domestic vehicles, the public sector needs to provide charging solutions for its own fleets. Across the UK, councils, health authorities and the emergency services have committed to zero emission fleets, whether that’s refuse collection and street cleaning fleets, public transport and even blue-light fleets of the emergency services.

Fleet charging comes with its own challenges. While the predictable journeys and payloads of refuse collection vehicles and buses, for example, makes them suitable for depot charging, it’s not the case for all fleets and commercial vehicles.

The vans, taxis, flat-bed trucks are a familiar site in our towns and cities are a major source of air pollution. Encouraging trades to transition to EV presents unique challenges to provide charging facilities for Commercial Electric Vehicles (CEVs).

Working vehicles

Fleets of delivery vans and trade vehicles used by builders, plumbers and other trades are unlikely to switch to EV until charging bays can accommodate them. Likewise, drivers of passenger vehicles like minibuses and taxis need charging to be more accessible to encourage EV take up.

The infrastructure required to charge lighter CEVs is the same as a private car. They don’t need more powerful chargers or bigger plugs. The biggest impediment is a lack of space. Some charge points are inaccessible to Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) and vehicles with trailers. Many public charge points are located in carparks where there could be height restrictions or underground parking bays. Bays may be too small, difficult to manoeuvre into or the charge point doesn’t have a long enough cable. The answer lies in the location.

Location, location, electrification

Local authorities own huge swathes of land that could be used to charge larger vehicles. Many councils already have ideal locations in their Park & Ride facilities. These often already host EV charging stations. By extending the parking bay and lengthening the cables on the chargers they can become suitable for longer wheelbase vehicles. This would deliver value beyond commercial vehicles and make charging easier for municipal vehicles, passenger vehicles, minibuses and taxis.

Van and lorry drivers, especially owner-drivers, may need more help from local authorities to make the switch. By building for future demand local authorities can accelerate the EV transition for all vehicles and make a major contribution to air quality and net zero in their communities.

Help is available

Accommodating CEV charging makes good commercial sense for local authorities. It strengthens the business model for operating charging stations by contributing to sustainable local businesses as well as residents. In turn, this generates funds for reinvestment into maintenance and the ongoing expansion of a council’s charging infrastructure.

By installing EV charging with Mer, owned by Statkraft, Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy, forward-thinking public sector organisations can further reduce their overall carbon footprint and improve their environmental impact.

More Information:

Learn more about Mer’s end to end charging solutions for the public sector:

Public Sector Focus