Image credit: Alan Trotter, used under Creative Commons license.
It's getting hard to know where Britain's coalition government stands when it comes to the environment. On the one hand they pledged they'd be "the greenest government ever", and they've set world leading, legally binging emissions reduction targets. On the other hand, they've embarked on a serious push for environmental deregulation, and have made significant cuts to their support for large-scale solar. Now it looks like another much heralded eco-initiative may be facing the axe—the country's support for emerging electric vehicle charging infrastructure. While Britain's utilities compete for the electric vehicle charging market, and while the nation's capitol has pledged a huge expansion of electric vehicle charging stations in the coming years, it looks like efforts to build publically-accessible charging stations outside of the London area may be falling foul of budget cuts.
The Guardian reports that a report from the Department of Transport is warning that a network of electric vehicle charging stations would be underutilized and uneconomical, and looks set to be the latest victim of a government u-turn:
A report published by the Department for Transport declared that widespread public charging points for electric vehicles would be "under-utilised and uneconomic", and said the nation should instead rely on recharging car and van batteries at home or at work.
The new policy contrasts with much more ambitious promises in the Conservative manifesto and the coalition government agreement for a "national network" of charging points, suggesting widespread public access to the chance to top up the battery, and was criticised by consumer and motoring groups.
As the Guardian goes on to say, just how often the charging points would be used is missing a big part of the picture. Recharging at home and in the office is indeed likely to be the primary source of energy for most electric vehicle (EV) users—but for EVs to gain common acceptance quickly, it will be crucial to ease fears of "range anxiety", especially among motorists who are accustomed to being able to fill up whenever and wherever they please.
Sure, many charging points may sit idle much of the time—but that doesn't mean that their contribution to helping end our over reliance fossil fuels is any less important. The shift of mindset is the biggest shift we have to make. This program would have been a significant contribution to that effort.