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Theme #3: Environmental Impact

As highlighted in my most recent posts, a lack of suitable, conveniently located and reliable charging infrastructure is now the key barrier to people switching to EV ownership. Responsibility for overcoming this barrier/developing adequate charging infrastructure (beyond that developed by Tesla, exclusively for its customers) has largely fallen to government. The challenge it faces is complex, with no clear best practice to follow and many interested parties seeking to influence decisions - often with vested interests to select certain products or charging methods. There is no clear or perfect answer here, the same as there is no single version of an EV user.

What is clear though is that more can be done to deliver the network we need, as efficiently as possible and in a way which is both more profitable and less damaging to the environment. We have researched this topic in detail and have identified 5 macro themes that those seeking to invest in charging infrastructure, whether public or private should consider; 1. Convenience & Network Confidence, 2. Enabling Smart Cities, 3. Environmental Impact, 4. Speed of Technological Development, 5. Sustainable Investment.

I’ve covered Convenience and Network Confidence and Enabling Smart Cities already, so here lets explore the Environmental Impact of EVCP deployments. This topic is, as a result of rising awareness (within the general public and Government) of the importance of climate change and the impact of air quality, becoming an increasingly hot topic (as highlighted by the Extinction Rebellion protests in London last week)…which will drive the adoption of EV’s, but also heap pressure on infrastructure owners/investors to reduce the Environmental Impact (and positive environmental benefits) of the infra they install.

Renewably Powered - EVs offer potential to reduce pollution in cities and, if powered through green energy, to halt the release of millions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. Increasingly, the public is pressuring city authorities and government to not only divert pollution from cities (by switching from ICE to EVs), but to also incentivise the use of green energy in powering EVs. Last week we saw some worrying news about the UK falling further away from it’s carbon emissions targets, but at the same time saw that in the first 3 months of this year the UK had over 600hrs of zero coal power generation. The ability of Smart Chargers to incentivise charging at times of low demand, or high renewables production, has the potential to push the transition to greener power generation even faster, but EV operators, energy suppliers and government must do more to incentivise positive behaviours. Vehicle to Grid and battery storage have an important role to play here also, but I’ll explore these more in Theme 4, in 2 weeks.

Green Infrastructure - Whilst often approved with positive (environmentally beneficial) intentions, the development of large scale green power projects are rarely green in their construction - often utilising vast quantities of concrete and steel. As governments and city authorities contemplate the deployment of millions of charging points, more pressure should be put on operators to minimise the impact of EVCP infra deployment on the environment - both in manufacturing, but also in construction activities. Our own experience shows that, if well designed, this can be a positive feedback loop as recycled materials are often cheaper and more durable than the expensive, glossy plastics and metal we see on most existing charging points.

Visual Impact - Deployment of EV chargers, at the scale required to enable full EV adoption, is a truly enormous infrastructure project…an infra project which unlike most standalone megaprojects (like nuclear powerplants or oil field developments) will be situated in direct view of people as they live their daily lives. Already city authorities are facing criticism from homeowners who don’t want unsightly, large or ‘buzzing’ EVCPs installed outside of their homes - this pressure is likely to increase, along with scale. In response, much more should be done by charge-point providers to reduce the visual impact of chargers (whilst simultaneously increasing capability), where possible utilising existing street furniture to enable the entire street.

At Connected Kerb we're driven by the need to facilitate the switch to EV, but also to maximise the positive benefits of EVs. Come and speak to us if you’d like to hear more about our award winning, environmentally sensitive EV Chargers as we’d love to explain what we’re doing.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.