Electric vehicles should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat, but the law on re-selling electricity in the UK needs to be changed to maximise it, according to Mario Vila Nova of Petrotec, the Portuguese manufacturer of fuel dispensing equipment and forecourt systems.

He was presenting to around 180 UK retailers and suppliers at last month’s Petroforum in the Algarve, where Brian Madderson, RMI PRA chairman, and Merril Boulton, Forecourt Trader editor, kicked off the afternoon conference with an industry overview.

Nova said the high price of oil, global warming, Co2 reduction and geopolitical issues had prompted the development of hybrid and electric vehicles, with all the big vehicle manufacturers planning to increase production over the coming years, having made significant investment which will drive the electric vehicle market: "These vehicles are not toys, they are real cars and drive like real cars," he said. "By 2020 the forecast for plug-in hybrid vehicles is that they will account for between 10% to 30% of the market. The figures for full electric vehicles are smaller between 5% and 10%." He said fast-charging technology could offer an opportunity on the forecourt, because it enables motorists to re-charge their vehicles within 10-20 minutes. However petrol stations must be able to sell or re-sell electricity, and therefore a review of regulations which currently protect electricity companies is needed.

"It’s time to prepare for the future and fight to change the actual regulations. Otherwise, electrical mobility will not be a part of our business and our current business will decline."

Other presentations included a case study on energy saving in refrigeration by Paul Jordon; an update on alcohol licensing by Robert Botkai of Winckworth Sherwood, with a closing session by ’The Black Farmer’ Wilfred Emmanuel.