With Transport Secretary Grant Shapps indicating that electric vehicle charge points will become a ‘British emblem’ in the coming years and electric vehicle uptake increasing by 71% in the last year, Frank Bertie, Chief Technical Officer at NAPIT Group, discusses the government’s increased policy focus on electric vehicles, and highlights how installers can play a role in the journey towards decarbonisation.
The government pledged to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 in November 2020, marking a historic step on the journey towards net zero. The two years following this announcement have seen an increased focus on preparing the necessary infrastructure, workforce, products, and skills to meet the 2030 target. Installers of electric vehicle charge points are expected to be in high demand as the deadline for meeting the target approaches.
The December 2022 uplift in building regulations supports the government’s commitment by requiring the installation of electric vehicle charge points (EVCPs) in all new homes and buildings, ensuring that all EVCPs installed going forward have smart functionality. This is critical for building long-term sustainable infrastructure, as the EVCPs’ smart capability charges an electric vehicle when there is less demand on the grid or when more renewable electricity is available. This requirement also helps to mitigate concerns about grid capacity, load control and adequate electricity supply to buildings.
Not only do these regulations alleviate some of the industry’s concerns about grid capacity, but ‘smart chargers’, as they are dubbed, must also meet certain device-level requirements, enabling a minimum level of access, security, and information for consumers. This enables effective monitoring of usage and customer behaviour, which will aid in identifying any issues and allow any future policy to be based on empirical evidence.
In addition to regulating in order to increase the rate of EVCP installations, the government is providing grants for flat owner-occupiers and landlords to encourage further installations. The EVCP grant covers 75% of the cost of installing a single charge point. Landlords can receive up to 200 grants a year for residential properties, and a further 100 for commercial properties. This grant replaced the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, which was designed to help homeowners, and provided funding for 291,549 domestic charging devices before concluding in April 2022.
To qualify for the EVCP grant, the installation must be completed on the consumers’ behalf by an Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) registered installer. Being a member of an Electrical Competent Person Scheme and providing proof of public liability insurance are prerequisites for becoming an OZEV authorised installer.
Other government funding options for EVCPs include the Workplace Charging Scheme, a voucher-based scheme that assists eligible applicants with the upfront costs of purchasing and installing an EVCP in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Furthermore, local government can take advantage of an on-street residential charge point scheme to help them support and deliver the EVCP rollout more effectively. The scheme’s goal is to increase the availability of on-street charge points on residential streets where off-street parking is unavailable.
Creating a competent EVCP installation workforce
The government’s commitment to improving EV infrastructure necessitates a skilled workforce of competent EVCP installers. NAPIT has a dedicated training provision to assist in the development of a competent EV installer workforce through a two-day training course offered at multiple NAPIT training locations across the country. The City and Guilds-approved course covers the Design and Installation of Domestic and Small Commercial Electric Vehicle Charging Installations. NAPIT Training delivered EVCP courses to over 500 of the next generation of EVCP installers in 2021.
Whilst qualifications must be held and demonstrated, installers must also keep up to date with the latest developments as part of their Continuing Professional Development. Recent OZEV-commissioned audits of EVCPs installations revealed several common oversights made by installers that are often simple to correct. NAPIT’s ‘Top 10 Tips’ guide for EVCP installs, helps those installing charge points identify and avoid common mistakes. Along with providing technical guidance, NAPIT is continuing to collaborate with OZEV and the broader industry to raise standards in this area.