Expanding Rapid Charging Fund would accelerate decarbonisation of all road transport, analysis shows

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A new report from National Grid, delivered in partnership with the transport and freight industries, shows that zero emission HGVs (either fully electric or hydrogen-fuelled) will require similar connections to the electricity transmission system, and in similar locations required by cars and vans.

Since 2019, National Grid has been working closely with Government and industry on developing charging infrastructure to meet long-term consumer demand for electric vehicles

National Grid’s proposal for a fast-charging network was supported by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) in March 2020 through its Rapid Charging Fund (RCF), enabling £950 million to deliver fast charging at more than 110 motorway service areas (MSA) over the next five years.

OZEV then published guidance on how the RCF could be spent to ensure motorists are always within 30 miles of an ultra-rapid charging station across both motorways and A-roads. It targeted six high power, open access charge points at each MSA by 2023, and 6000 in total by 2035.

The natural synergies between the transmission system and the country’s transport network means a significant number of these charge points could be supplied by existing National Grid infrastructure.

It models the charging profile of the UK’s HGV fleet, assuming that 70-90% of HGVs will be charged or re-fuelled overnight in their depot or at their destinations.

For the remaining 10-30%, this will need to be delivered on-route, given HGV drivers are legally required to stop for 45 minutes every four and a half hours, National Grid assumed a 30-minute window in each 45-minute break, and cross-referenced it with information on the strategic road network and electricity transmission system, it is possible to map out a future on-route charging and hydrogen re-fuelling network for HGVs and other transport.

The analysis and modelling found 53-78% of on-route charging and hydrogen re-fuelling at MSAs can be provided at no extra cost to the RCF, if transmission connection solutions, for example existing substations, are used.

A small marginal cost increase of 3-16% to the RCF can provide the necessary capacity for the remaining sites across England.

According to the National Grid, there is further potential to realise cost savings by coordinating with the Zero Emission Road Freight Trial (ZERFT) as it looks to deliver early trials which will also require electricity capacity.

Other sectors using the strategic road network could also then benefit from this additional infrastructure, including long-distance coaches and vans.

The analysis builds on the government’s recent EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy, giving more detail on the potential size and location of future infrastructure – outlining the importance of connections to National Grid’s electricity transmission system.

Graeme Cooper, Head of Future Markets at National Grid, commented on the report: “The switch to fully decarbonised road transport will only happen if we have the right wires in the right place, at the right time.

“Our analysis shows the importance of digging once and in the right location. Planning future charging infrastructure around connections to the transmission system can bring cost savings and reductions in the amount of infrastructure required.

“We look forward to working with government and the wider industry to continue planning the future charging network and begin delivering the interlinked energy and transport system of the future.”

The full report is available on the National Grid website.