Britain’s independent energy regulator, Ofgem, is investing GBP300m (US$425m) into 200 low carbon projects for electric transport and heat.

New infrastructure will support 1,800 new ultra-rapid charging points at motorway service areas.

Ofgem says UK motorway service areas and key trunk road locations across the country will receive cabling to install 1,800 new ultra-rapid charge points, tripling the current network.

A further 1,750 charge points will be supported in towns and cities. As drivers make the switch from petrol and diesel to electric, Britain’s cables, substations and other infrastructure need a massive upgrade to support the new demand for electricity.

The investment will be delivered in the next two years and is part of a larger  plan to ensure Britain has the energy infrastructure it needs to support the move to low carbon transport and heating, while maintaining secure supplies. The magnitude of this investment is expected to be in the order of more than GBP40bn through Ofgem’s regulation of energy networks.

All regions in Britain will benefit from the announcement, with 204 net zero projects worth GBP300.5m across England, Scotland and Wales. These low carbon projects start this year, supporting clean transport and heat and opening up local electricity grids to take on more low carbon generation.

While electric car ownership is on the rise, Ofgem research has found 36% of households that do not intend to get an electric vehicle are put off making the switch due to a lack of charging points near their home. A motorway charging network and more charging points in cities and train stations will help address range anxiety, with Ofgem accelerating investment to boost charge point installation.

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Cities such as Glasgow, Kirkwall, Warrington, Llandudno, York and Truro will benefit from increased network capacity to support more ultra-rapid charge points, increased renewable electricity generation and the move to more electric heating for homes and businesses. Investment also covers more rural areas with charging points for commuters at train stations in North and Mid Wales and the electrification of the Windermere ferry.

“This GBP300m down payment is just the start of building back a greener energy network, which will see well over GBP40bn of investment in Britain’s energy networks in the next seven years,” said Ofgem chief executive, Jonathan Brearley.

“The payment will support the rapid take up of electric vehicles, which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets. Drivers need to be confident they can charge their car quickly when they need to. We’re paving the way for the installation of 1,800 ultra-rapid charge points, tripling the number of these public charge points. Drivers will have more charging options for longer journeys.

“In the year Glasgow hosts the COP26 climate summit, the energy networks are rising to the challenge and working with us and partners to accelerate projects that can start now, benefiting consumers, boosting the economy and creating jobs.”

Ofgem, the Energy Networks Association and each of the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) launched a call for evidence in February for energy networks to come forward with projects that could help Britain reach net zero emissions faster and support the economy as the country emerges from the pandemic.

This phase of Ofgem’s Green Recovery programme is focussed on local electricity grids within the current price control. Ofgem is working with the transmission and gas distribution companies to develop further opportunities within their recently confirmed funding settlements.

Ofgem is Britain’s independent energy regulator and has several roles:

  • Working with government, industry and consumer groups to deliver a net zero economy at the lowest cost to consumers
  • Stamping out sharp and bad practice, ensuring fair treatment for all consumers, especially the vulnerable
  • Enabling competition and innovation, which drives down prices and results in new products and services for consumers