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Insights shared at EV Infrastructure Summit 2018

Our Deputy Managing Director was a guest speaker at this year’s EV Infrastructure Summit event, sharing industry insights and discussing how electric vehicles will impact the development of new residential schemes.

As the UK steps ever closer to the predicted uptake projections of more than 1 in 3 vehicles on UK roads being electric vehicles (EVs) as early as 2030, it is more important than ever for those involved in planning and designing new buildings and developments of all kinds to consider the implications of the EV revolution.

As such, the Rolton Group team were pleased to attend the two day EV Infrastructure Summit 2018 event, to gain further insights from a wide variety of industry professionals including speakers from the National Grid, E.ON Drive, British Parking Association, Transport for London, Chargemaster and BRE Group, as well as investors, local authorities, energy suppliers and generators, battery and infrastructure specialists, architects and specialist EV consultants.

After reading an article from Rolton Group in Property Week (What developers need to know about the electric vehicle revolution), Deputy Managing Director, Chris Evans was approached directly by the organiser of the event to appear as a guest speaker in a panel discussion on the topic of EV infrastructure on new housing developments.

Jo Wilkinson, Head of Event Content and Organiser of the EV Infrastructure Summit 2018, said: “It was great to expand the conversation by including comments from another, almost hidden area of the EV infrastructure implementation/supply chain. Chris’ practical energy strategy knowledge, wider engineering expertise and experience working with residential developers was most useful and we were delighted that he could join us as a speaker at the EV Infrastructure Summit.”
Chris Evans, Deputy managing Director of the Rolton Group, said: “I found the EV Infrastructure Summit 2018 to be a well-planned and very useful event; great for gathering knowledge and interacting with other experts in the field. There were several very interesting topics being presented and debated throughout both days of the event, with a great range of speakers from a variety of backgrounds and of varying involvement with EV infrastructure. EVs are advancing so rapidly and events like this are incredibly useful for staying up-to-date with the latest progress, practices and general opinions of those linked to (and affected by) the progression of EV infrastructure.”

For the panel discussion, Chris was joined by Gwyn Roberts from BRE Group, Bill Dunster of forward-thinking architects ZEDFactory, and Tom Callow from leading EV Infrastructure provider Chargemaster (recently acquired by BP to become BP Chargemaster). The four key points explored during the panel discussion were:

Are house-builders at the stage of making wide commitments to installing EV infrastructure?

At this stage, although some offer EV charging points as an optional extra, many of the large national housebuilders only appear to be installing EV charging points when pressed to do so by planning conditions. Right now, market forces and consumer perceptions are key drivers for what is and isn’t included on new housing developments and at present, EV charging points aren’t seen as a priority for most customers. As with renewable technologies and the Merton Rule that came before, we anticipate that EV infrastructure will only become an essential part of new developments for housebuilders when a formal, legislative policy is put in place, encouraged by growing market demands. The Greater London Authority have already set out firm rules for new developments built within their jurisdiction, to include electrical infrastructure capacity to deliver active EV charge points for 20% of units, as well as a further passive capacity for future connections for an additional 20% of units on-site.

Including EV charging infrastructure with any new development is a good idea. As with electric lighting, which isn’t explicitly detailed as a requirement under building regulations, should EV charging just become a fundamental part of the build? However, is 20/20% for instance really right for all developments right now, or will technology become outdated before it’s fully utilised?

What impact does EV infrastructure have on the value of a property?

At this point in time it’s probably not seen as adding value, but just like renewables, EV charging points will become a differentiator for the developers offering this with new homes. When EVs become more widespread, EV infrastructure with new developments will add some value, which could change depending on the availability of the additional loads on the local grid.

Even though there is potential to create an added value for customers, many believe housebuilders are cautious about including EV charging infrastructure on new sites and understandably so. The demand from their customers isn’t high and if there is often no legal/planning requirement to include charging infrastructure, why spend millions on it?

EVs have come a very long way in a short space of time. Battery technologies are rapidly improving, increasing the range capabilities of vehicles but also, increasing the amount of power required when charging. There are also fears that charging technology/hardware that is installed now will become obsolete in just a few short years due to the change of charger types and smart charge impacts, which does not help with providing a clear route map for developers.

Investing in the right technology is vital and if nothing else, housebuilders should be investing in the electrical infrastructure for new developments to ensure the capacity is available to include EV charging points when the market catches up and EV ownership is more common amongst purchasers, especially for those sites that have an extended build out period which can often last 10 years.

What will the future look like?

Fundamentally for future projects, developers need to start ensuring the infrastructure and the transformer(s) servicing the sites are sized for future loads - particularly for EVs but not forgetting heat pumps and other technologies as the decarbonisation of the grid continues, which will drive us away from using gas. Whatever then connects to the transformer(s) (charge points, etc.) needs to be rolled out without overdoing it to minimise any future redundancy due to charger obsolescence.

Smart charging will play a large role in the widespread implementation of EV charging points, fundamental to balancing the load across local networks. Vehicle to Grid technologies (V2G) are also predicted to be a key player in the EV revolution, providing a relatively simple way to deliver additional capacity to the grid to help frequency stabilisation and reduction of the peak electrical loads. Energy company OVO are trialling V2G technologies with a selection of their customers this summer to further develop their technology in partnership with Nissan. The trials and data collated will help deliver robust solutions for the future, and the government and the various companies involved will do well to heed the advice and information coming out from those who are already ahead of the curve.

Autonomous vehicles may also become a key segment of the automotive market within the UK in the future. Opinions around this are split, with some believing that in scenarios where autonomous vehicles operate like taxis (only called upon where needed), very few people will want to give up access to ownership of their own vehicle. However, many leading design teams, technology companies and automotive manufacturers are already exploring this possibility, which could significantly change the geography of car parking and the layout of new developments. Large pick up/drop off zones may ultimately become key elements of design for future buildings and developments and implementing this sort of transport solution would be the biggest change to data enabled areas that we will have seen in our life time, set to have a major impact on charging, parking (or lack of it and its subsequent use), drop off integration, etc. The possibility of automated and centralised parking within residential and urban developments may be a key feature of the future, with the likes of Mercedes and Audi already piloting automated parking systems at some of their sites with employees, also utilising inductive pads for charging.

Funding models now and in the future

At present funding is commonly generated privately and is provided by developers, sometimes with subsidised support from government grants. Although the future is far from clear, everyone at the panel discussion agreed that the challenge of implementing EV within residential developments is not something that can be solved (or ultimately, funded) by any one party.

In Germany the districts fund infrastructure not the developers, but would this model work in the UK?Maybe the government could set up a task force to at least ensure that major new developments are adequately provided for with respect to major infrastructure (transformers and cables) to supply the smart charge EV grid requirements that are anticipated?

To find out more about the impact of EVs on the built environment, you can download a copy of Rolton Group’s latest strategic paper Electric Vehicles: The challenges and commercial opportunities from