Plugging into your workplace

Emily Stone from Energy Saving Trust suggests some considerations and funding sources for charge point installations for fleet operators in Scotland

With the uptake of electric vehicles on an exponential rise, it’s time to get ahead. Charge point installation companies are evolving throughout the UK, making this an exciting and pivotal time.
    
One of the industry’s biggest challenges is the matter of increasing charging infrastructure availability in line with EV uptake. We’re seeing pockets of the UK where a council-backed push for more EV infrastructure combined with a general buzz and enthusiasm around EVs has led to an even steeper uptake curve, for example in Dundee.
    
Not everywhere benefits from the volume of rapidly expanding infrastructure seen in this Scottish city, which will see its third charging hub installed before Christmas.
    
Businesses across the UK need to do their bit to maintain momentum, and there are two key reasons as to why: the first is to encourage employee use of EVs. If you’re in an area where the only option is for people to drive to work, then it’s worth considering providing charge points for your employees.         
    
Remember, 60 per cent of the UK’s population live in flats, so it may be difficult for some employees to get a charge point installed at home. The second, is to demonstrate your commitment to greener alternatives for employee travel by procuring EVs for company use.  

Revolutionise your fleet

An EV charge point may help save your company money, due to the tax benefits and lower running costs associated with EV usage. You might even consider partnering with a car club such as Enterprise or Co-Wheels, providing them with a parking space for an EV which can then be pre-booked by your staff for occasional use. This way, it might become an opportunity to get rid of a fleet vehicle which is not used regularly, meaning a direct financial saving as you free yourself from leasing and servicing costs.

What funding is available?

Under the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV)’s Workplace Charging Scheme, £500 is available per socket for one or more charge points at a business premises. In addition to this, any business located in Scotland may apply for funding from Energy Saving Trust. Your eligibility, and the amount of support you could receive, depends on a few criteria which are assessed at application. This includes whether your organisation currently operates EVs, or can demonstrate firm plans to; you employ EV owners; you operate a car park of 50+ bays; you’re able to make the charge point publically accessible; and you’re located strategically in terms of the public charging infrastructure network.

If you’re able to make your charge point public, one condition of the grant from Energy Saving Trust is that you keep it tariff-free for the public for the first year of operation. Whilst this will incur some charges, making the charge point public can help support your funding application, and depending on your business type, could help bring in new customers.

A matter of power

If you plan to install a number of chargers, you may need an electricity supply upgrade to be able to accommodate the additional load this brings. Your installer should be able to advise on this when they carry out a site survey of your intended charging locations prior to installation. Funding from Energy Saving Trust can potentially cover this additional cost on a case-by-case basis.
 
The electricity bill

Depending on the size of your vehicles’ batteries, it will cost between £2.50 and £11   to charge to full. The higher figure assumes a battery with 300+ mile range, for example a 100KWh Tesla Model X. When you consider the cost of 300 miles’ worth of diesel, though, it’s clear that your savings will eventually rack up.
    
Encouraging staff to charge at work will eliminate the need to pay 45p/mile, and you’ll be reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint right from the get-go.

Which type of charger?

This will inevitably depend on the intended uses and battery range of the vehicles you use, or foresee using.
    
Would you opt for larger, long-range battery electric vehicles, or are they designed for running around in the city for short periods? What is the daily mileage expected of them?
    
You would also need to consider when the vehicles would need to charge and how much time they would have available for this. Would you implement “destination charging”, whereby employees leave personal or company EVs to charge for most of the day? Or do you run a continuously active fleet with few pauses for recharging, for which destination charging would not be practical? Asking yourself these questions is the first step to making a thought-out decision, and Energy Saving Trust’s fleet advice service is happy to help you with this.

For fleets with a lot of downtime, fast chargers should be sufficient. However, these can come with a range of functionality with respect to the data that they can provide, and what level of remote control you can have over them. It’s therefore worth having a discussion with your installer on the capabilities of the units available to decide which is best suited for your business.

For example, if you’re just charging employee EVs during the day, you might consider a single-phase 7kw charge point similar to a domestic installation. On the other hand, 50KW rapid smart chargers might even suit some businesses – these will charge most currently available pure electric vehicles from 0 to 80 per cent in between 30 and 40 minutes, although this will vary depending on your vehicles. Please note, however, that not all vehicles are rapid-compatible, and due to their high cost relative to fast chargers, rapids will likely only be suited to organisations with a large number of electric vehicles covering a significant number of miles each day.
    
If you will you’ll only need an occasional rapid charge, it’s best to use the extensive public network. Rapid chargers can be found across the UK, and it’s not hard to find one using ChargePlace Scotland if you are in Scotland. EV drivers in England can use Zap-map or PlugShare for this.   
    
It’s well worth giving some serious thought to how EV charging could work for your business. Energy Saving Trust Scotland has plenty of resources to help you decide.
    
To download an application form for charge point funding in Scotland, please visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland/businesses-organisations/transport....

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