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An EV charging revolution is coming in Cumbria

Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that there were 60 new plug-in car registrations per new standard chargepoint installation (3-22 kW) in London and the South East in the final three months of 2022, however the ratio for the North West was 291 registrations per one chargepoint (the North West was the worst UK region). This shows that there is ‘charge point inequality’ around the UK.

If you visit areas such as London or Milton Keynes, you’ll find chargepoints everywhere. If you visit Cumbria, you’ll struggle to find any chargepoints at all in many areas (although there are currently 250 in the county). However this is about to change, as Cumbria is due to install 900 new chargepoints.

So how is Cumbria achieving such a revolution with chargepoint numbers? Key to unlocking the new installations is a recently-announced Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) grant of £1.4 million. However it’s not just about the money.

Debbie StevensPhil Gray

Debbie Stevens, One Public Estate Manager at Carlisle City Council, says key actions include pulling partners together and having a joined up, county-wide ‘C-VOLT’ strategy, for residents and visitors, which includes a mixture of destination and journey chargers, but rapid chargers (50 kW and above) will be left to commercial partners.

The imminent chargepoint expansion is not the end of the story, it’s just the start; it’s forecast that 10,000 charge points will be needed in Cumbria by 2030. To help achieve the ambitious targets, Phil Gray, Partnership Coordinator, is inviting the private sector to engage with Cumbria’s Electric Vehicle Charging Partnership.

A key partner in the mission to expand EV charging is of course the local Distribution Network Operator (DNO) Electricity North West (ENW). Electricity North West needs to double its capacity by 2025, which means 100 more substations. To help do this, ENW has a budget of £1.7bn over the next five years. A big change that’s coming this April is that for any new connections for EV charging, the DNO will pick up the cost of the reinforcement element if this is needed.

Martin SleathEmma Moody

The Lake District National Park Authority is also taking action about electric vehicles. Its own fleet is being transitioned to EVs, and according to Martin Sleath, apart from the carbon reduction benefits, there are cost savings; based on 10,000 miles per year, its ICE vehicles cost 10p per mile to run, but EVs cost just 4.5p per mile. And there’s even a saving on the leasing costs. One challenge that remains is converting its 4×4 ‘working’ vehicles to EVs, as they need to have a 3.5-tonne towing capacity, and this is a gap in the EV market at the moment.

Emma Moody is working to ensure that visitors to Lake District National Park car parks have improved chargepoint provision, with associated education around greener visiting. A ‘Recharge in Nature’ project to install charge points is already underway with BMW and PodPoint.

Green Car Guide at Leading the ChargeLeading the Charge

Speakers were brought together to look at the challenges and solutions around rolling out EV infrastructure in Cumbria at the ‘Leading the Charge’ event in Keswick on 14 March 2023, organised by Cumbria’s Electric Vehicle Charging Partnership in partnership with Electricity North West, supported by Let’s Experience Electric and Low Carbon Lake District. In typical Lake District style, it snowed on the day, and the event made a contribution towards net zero by taking place in a building with no heating!

Paul Clarke Green Car Guide

Paul Clarke