Car chargers – the high price of going green

electric car charger in the home

All new homes and buildings in England must have electric car chargers, the government says, as it aims to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

The UK market for electric car sales is steadily growing, and increased from 2.5% in 2018 to 10% in 2020. They may be cheaper to run, but the high cost of buying a new electric car will be prohibitive for many.

It is estimated that 145,000 new charging points could result from the new rules. Some of the chargers will be located in newly built supermarkets and places of work, or any buildings undergoing major renovations.

Addressing the CBI conference in November last year prime minister, Boris Johnson said: “The force driving the change won’t be government, it won’t even be business – it will be the consumer. It will be the young people of today, who can see the consequences of climate change and will be demanding better from us.”

There are currently around 25,000 charging points in Britain, but there are more public car charging points located in London and the South East of England than the rest of England and Wales combined. The Competition and Markets Authority estimates that ten times more chargers will be needed by 2030.

The announcement that every new home and building must have an electric car charging point has been seen as potentially yet another sign of a geographic divide in the country. Think tank, Policy Exchange, believes that ‘charging blackspots’ will be created in smaller towns and rural areas, unless the roll out is speeded up.

The solution, you might think, would be for homeowners in these areas to retrofit car chargers in their homes. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategies believes the ‘vast majority’ of homes will “not need to pay for an upgraded connection to accommodate a heat pump and electric vehicle charger”.

However, the cost of upgrading an electricity supply to buildings where it is needed, can be steep. Older homes, which are likely to have an electrical service of 60 or 80 amps, may need upgrading to the 100 amps that is standard for new build properties and seen as a requirement for the installation of a car charger and heat pump. The cost can run into several thousand pounds – if indeed it is even possible.

The existing power grid was not designed to handle the demand that is likely to be asked of it, and a national upgrade programme, expected to begin in 2023, hopes to improve substations and cables to keep up with the demand from thousands of new home heat pumps and electric car charges. However, this could all come at a cost.