Andy Cunningham (1)

Andy Cunningham: A large proportion of our existing petrol and diesel forecourts are easy to convert to EV charging

Most of us hate to see the results of fly tipping and yet if the noxious fumes being emitted by our diesel and petrol cars weren’t invisible we’d see that on average we’re effectively dumping from our exhaust the equivalent volume of a whole bag of fast food packaging every second we drive.

EVs don’t do this, they drive pretty well, they require less servicing, and you can charge them yourself at home. All good, except we have to challenge that final phrase – 50% of the population in the UK don’t have a suitable off-road place where they live to charge their car. And of those that do have the space, a large proportion won’t have the electricity grid connection required.

The maths around electricity distribution to our homes is illuminating. The part of the grid that looks after the last few miles of grid connection into our towns, villages, and down our streets allocates roughly 300kW-350kW of electrical power per 100 houses. A single house could peak briefly at 18kW or so but the average must be around that 3-3.5kW level – a puny amount when the average AC charger is 22kW. The cost and disruption of supporting ubiquitous home charging means it will probably never happen.

Insufficient home charging means we’ll need the option of well provisioned destination and along route EV charging locations. Also availability of reasonable EV charging to all regardless of where they live will be a social requirement. Public charging locations are even better when limited grid connections can be augmented by on site power generation from clean fuels in places designed to store fuel. A large proportion of our existing petrol and diesel forecourts are easy to upgrade and will profitably and efficiently serve new demanding EV drivers for many decades to come.

  •  Andy Cunningham is chief executive of GeoPura, a provider of hydrogen power charging for forecourt operators who do not have sufficient access to the grid.