Rural EV Charging

Rural EV Charging

Electric Vehicle Charging and Rural Communities

Pure energy (REGen) Ltd (PERL) has gained notable experience in providing rural electric vehicle charging infrastructure, in particular across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, benefitting locals and travellers alike, in this article our CEO Alan MacLeod shares some thoughts on the benefits of an efficient rural EV charging network.

In 2022-24, PERL installed electric vehicle charging infrastructure in both urban and rural areas


Helping the UK transition to a net zero economy continues to be a strategic priority for the UK Government, as part of a wider focus on enabling the UK economy to grow productively and sustainably. Creating a reliable and available UK charging infrastructure continues to be a key obstacle in electric vehicle adoption. This article aims to provide an overview of our EV charging infrastructure, underlining the need for improved rural charging networks, and addresses the “range anxiety” problem.

With increasing consumer demand and greater availability of electric models, the number of electric cars in the UK is growing fast. As of February 2024, there are over 1,000,000 fully electric cars and 620,000 plug-in hybrids on UK roads. The proportion of all new cars sold in February 2024 either fully electric or plug-in hybrid was 23.7%. According to the National Grid, we can also expect around 10 million electric vehicles on UK roads by 2030, and as many as 30 million by 2040.

Our Rural Communities – In the EV Charging Slow Lane

The past few years has also seen an increased number of public EV charge points in the UK. Since February 2023 a further 18,308 charge points were added to the UK network, a growth rate of 47%;

Courtesy: Zapmap February 2024

The geographical area with the most EV charging points is unsurprisingly Greater London with 18,927, followed by the South East with 6,661 and Scotland with 4,880.

This aggregates all types of charging devices, so caution is needed when making comparisons. 

According to the UK CMA, lower income areas, especially rural areas, currently spend around twice as much of their income on mobility than their higher income equivalents. Without on-street charging, any energy cost savings consumers make from EVs could reduce, inhibiting EV take-up.

EVs are also less expensive to recharge than either their petrol or diesel alternative. By combining on-street/Fast Charging facilities, both charging convenience and cost savings can be achieved within Communities, allowing all driver groups to directly benefit from electric mobility.

In the UK, rural locations need to keep pace with their urban neighbours when it comes to EV charging infrastructure deployment, if the economic benefits are to be equally shared. It is critical that the UK has a comprehensive and competitive EV charging network in place to help build consumer trust in the sector and meet charging needs, early on.

Challenges in en-route charging in rural locations

The map below shows that there are currently fewer rapid chargepoints in more rural areas of the UK such as the East of England, North West England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

For example, the Cumbrian Region is amongst the lowest rapid chargepoint deployment areas in the UK.

On the road to full electrification, we cannot allow one group of drivers to benefit while others struggle – by avoiding the creation of a two-tier system of the “haves” and “have-nots”. Expansion of EV chargepoints into more rural areas benefits both users and wider society by contributing to a complete charging network, providing adequate coverage across the whole country.

Rural EV charging networks – Convenience Matters

A dependable charging network in rural locations is as crucial as in cities and towns, core aspects to consider includes;

Accessibility: Rural residents should have equal access to clean and sustainable transportation options like their urban counterparts. Their ability to migrate to EVs needs a vastly improved charging infrastructure.

Economic growth: Improving the EV charging network in rural areas promotes economic expansion, boosts local businesses serving EV drivers, attracting tourists, and creating jobs.

Environmental Impact: Encouraging EV adoption in these areas can dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

Rural areas attract tourists; a robust charging network encourages eco-conscious travellers to opt for electric vehicles when exploring these regions. This in turn boosts tourism and will increasingly contribute positively to local economies.

Government Policies: The UK Government has set ambitious targets to reduce emissions and promote EV adoption.

Expanding charging infrastructure in rural areas aligns with these goals and helps meet their environmental and transportation objectives. EV charging networks will not develop evenly across the UK without some targeted government intervention in areas at risk of market failure.

On-street EV Charging is convenient and cost efficient


On-street fast charging near the home (where EVs charge overnight), offers a more convenient, easier and cheaper way to charge than relying on rapid hubs (akin to petrol forecourts) or destination charging. Drivers could save over £100 a year by using an on-street chargepoint rather than rapid charging (which costs around 60% more than home charging). It also has greater benefits for the grid as when EVs are plugged in they can help manage the intermittency of renewable energy sources by providing flexibility as well as smoothing demand.

Destination charging also relies on drivers making regular use of a particular set of destinations. Using convenient fast charging hubs (i.e. groups of chargepoints) will be less time-consuming. In this regard, the UK Government is currently being advised that property developers should provide public charging points, and local councils should ensure EV charging infrastructure is included within future planned developments.

The cure for Range Anxiety?

“Range anxiety” is a perceived constraint in the demand for electric vehicles. EV battery technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, but even the greatest driving range to date is limited by availability of charging opportunities — or lack thereof. Filling the gaps in the national EV infrastructure means installing EV charging stations in rural towns and villages. An all-inclusive approach is the only way to establish a completely interconnected EV road map throughout the country. 

Owners of EVs continue to experience serious range anxiety, especially those who live in remote locations. The promotion of EV adoption, especially among long-distance drivers, depends on overcoming this concern. Here are some methods for reducing range phobia:

Pure energy – Rural Installation Examples

Pure energy provided an integrated renewable energy solution including a dual connector EV charging station with rooftop solar and battery storage system to the Isle of Gigha Camp and Motorhome newbuild Campsite facility.

Isle of Gigha Camp and Motorhome Site EV Charging Station

We installed the first EV charging point on the island, available for use by both island residents and visitors.

Another dual connector EV charging station was installed by PERL at Garrison House on the Isle of Cumbrae.

PERL Team Commissioning the Garrison House EV Charging Station

PERL’s Graduate Energy Engineer, Yashodhara Bose visited the Cumbrae site location in February 2024 to integrate EV charging units to our back-office system.

Pure energy provides an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) co-ordination service for these EV charging facilities. Benefits of this service includes continuous machine monitoring, set variable tariff rates via remote access, produce comprehensive monthly usage and billing reports, OTA software updates and troubleshooting/error diagnostics.

Conclusion

Given the UK has made important progress in building EV charging infrastructure, more has to be done, especially in rural regions.

Availability of chargepoints in rural locations can also be used for en-route charging. For EV adoption to become widely accepted, rural areas must also have a dependable and accessible charging infrastructure.

Integrating Electric Vehicle Fast Charging Facilities within for example new rural housing developments, will ensure residents living in rural or remote areas will not face the “risk of being left behind”, from the availability of low-cost mobility as well as climate emission reduction and increased local economic growth. This approach should become a model for integrating mobility within future UK Low Carbon Affordable Housing Projects.

Furthermore, resolving range anxiety through wise investments and education will increase drivers’ trust in EVs and make them a sensible option for all drivers, wherever they may be.

To find out more about how Pure energy (REGen) Ltd can assist your business or home to adopt EV charging solutions, contact us on +44 (0) 1382 657457 or email [email protected].

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