There are literally thousands if not millions of reasons for electricians to go on an EV charging course, as huge numbers of chargers will need to be added to the existing provision if Britain is to meet its goals of switching from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles over the next decade.
Having enough skilled technicians to install all the EV chargers will be just one of the prerequisites for increasing capacity in this way. Another is the need for a small army of maintenance staff who can keep the chargers running.
The size of this maintenance challenge has been highlighted by a new survey of 75 towns and cities carried out by The Solar Centre, which has found the areas in the UK with the highest number of broken electric chargers.
Using the latest available data from ZapMap, it found that the worst-affected location in the UK was Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland, where as many as 30 per cent of chargers were not working. Second on this list was Worcester on 23.1 per cent, with Ipswich third on 22.7 per cent.
This may cause particularly acute problems for motorists in these locations as they are all surrounded by countryside where there will be fewer chargers still, all of which means an increased risk of motorists either having longer queues for the working chargers available or risking the nightmare of being stranded with a flat battery out on the sticks.
Locations where over 20 per cent of chargers were out of action also included Newcastle-upon-Tyne, York, Huddersfield and Southend-on-Sea. Of the 75 areas, just over half – 37 – had ten per cent or more out of action.
However, the situation was rather better in other locations, with no chargers out of action in Newtownabbey, Telford, Woking, Worthing, Darlington, East Kilbride or Mansfield. In total, 12 places, including Manchester, had fewer than five per cent not functioning.
As the Solar Centre noted, there are currently 37,000 chargers on the UK network, but this needs to rise to 480,000 to meet the government’s 2030 target. However, recent initiatives providing more funding in counties like Nottinghamshire and County Durham explain why towns like Mansfield and Darlington have all their chargers working.
Increasing the supply of chargers will help, of course, by always providing more means of powering up electric vehicles, but this will be of little use if it is matched by a rise in such cars but not the supply of well-maintained and functional installations.
Another reason good maintenance is important is that matching supply with geographical need has been highlighted as essential of EV adoption is going to be a success in the UK.
This point has been emphasised by Sam Clarke, chief vehicle officer at Gridserve. Writing for logistics website Fleetworld, he remarked: “Accelerating the UK’s transition to EVs means not only expanding the number of charge points, but carefully planning when, where, and how people will need to use them.”
To meet the needs of drivers, this will include many things – Mr Clarke went on to highlight the need for faster chargers at motorway service stations – but clearly matching up need and location will only be possible if there is no EV equivalent of a ‘postcode lottery’ where some places have all or most chargers working and some do not.