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Electric vehicle charging – background and FAQs – updated 2023

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Introduction

This blog article has been prepared by Edward Stars, a career ready intern, in collaboration with the Enquiries and Collections Team in SPICe.  You can find out more about Career Ready on their website.

This blog provides some background on Scottish Electric Vehicle (EV) policy and answers some EV-related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) received by SPICe.  It is an update to a previous FAQ blog published in 2018. We’ve added a contents popout here to help with navigation.

Electric Vehicle Policy

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving local air quality are identified as key priorities for action in Scotland’s second National Transport Strategy (NTS2). The Scottish Government’s approach to delivering these aims are set out in the NTS2 Delivery Plan and Climate Change Plan update, which commits the Scottish Government to achieving a 56% reduction in transport related greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, from the 1990 baseline. Key to achieving these aims are a 20% reduction in the distance driven by car in 2019 to be achieved by 2030, and a significant switch from internal combustion engine cars and vans to zero emission power sources, principally EVs. Transport Scotland provides more detail on delivering these aims on its Mission zero for transport webpages.  

Electric Vehicle Charging Policy

In 2022, Transport Scotland published A new vision for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Scotland.  This sets out the Scottish Government’s vision to increase the size of the public charging network for EVs, supported by a public electric vehicle charging fund.  The intention is to:

  • Make EVs more desirable to own, as the number of charging points around Scotland increases.
  • Make EVs a convenient fit with drivers’ needs and lifestyles.
  • Promote a change in culture, whereby EVs are widely recognised as a preferred alternative to fossil fuelled vehicles.

Chargeplace Scotland

ChargePlace Scotland is the national charging network for Scotland. The ChargePlace Scotland website explains that:

“ChargePlace Scotland is an organisation that plays a vital role in the national electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in Scotland. The network that ChargePlace Scotland encompasses, and monitors consists of over 2,400 chargers, owned by over 400 different organisations such as local authorities and independent businesses.

ChargePlace Scotland offer a single unified point of access to this extensive collection of charge points, monitor overall performance, and liaise with owners and suppliers alike where issues are raised or identified.”

Frequently Asked Questions

1: How many electric vehicles are registered in Scotland, and how many have been registered in each year (last 5 years)?

Department for Transport statistics show that at the end of March 2023, 1.55 million (51.3%) of Scottish vehicles were petrol driven, 1.3 million (43%) diesel, 120,000 (4.1%) hybrid, and 46,300 (1.5%) fully electric.

Transport Scotland statistics show that 181,351 new vehicles were registered in Scotland during 2021, of which 138,437 (76%) were cars. Of all newly registered vehicles, 91,000 (50%) were petrol powered, 49,000 (27%) were diesel-propelled, 28,000 (15%) were hybrid electric, and 12,000 (7%) were fully electric, Both of these final groups have seen steady increases in new registrations in recent years, with Transport Scotland reporting that the number of ultra-low emission vehicles (effectively all EVs) registered in Scotland for the first time to the end of Q3 in 2021 was 91% up on the corresponding figure in 2020 (January – September).

Table 1: New vehicle registrations by method of propulsion:

Method of propulsion

2017

2018

2019

2020  

2021  

Hybrid electric (thousands)

6

8

9

16

28

Electricity (thousands)

2

2

3

8

12

Source: DVLA/Department for Transport (Not National Statistics)

The Scottish Futures Trust and Transport Scotland have identified that Plug-In-Vehicle registration data from the Department for Transport may not be taking full account of how these vehicles are obtained and used, arguing that there may have been some underreporting of electric vehicle numbers in Scotland.

2: Can we find out the number of publicly available charging points now in Scotland. Is there a breakdown of charging points by geographic location?

NetZero Nation state that there are over 2400 publicly available charging stations on the ChargePlace Scotland network.  ChargePlace Scotland offers a map showing the locations of the charging points in Scotland is available here https://chargeplacescotland.org/cpmap/

The charts below show how Scotland compares to other UK nations and regions in terms of the number of charging points per person and the number of charging points per square kilometre.

This chart shows the number of charging points per square km in the UK.  Scotland has the second lowest number of charging points per sq km.

Sources: Zapmap database, 31 May 2023, Office for National Statistics, World Bank, Isle of Man


3: Installing a domestic charging point – how do people go about this?

Several grant scheme support homeowners and tenants who wish to install domestic EV charge points, These redescribed below.

The Domestic Chargepoint Funding Scheme, supported by Transport Scotland and administered by Energy Savings Trust, can provide up to £400 towards the cost of purchasing and installing domestic charging points for electric vehicles.  There are two routes available to apply for this grant.

  1. Route 1 is for applicants who own electric vehicles and live in rural and remote areas or Islands of Scotland.
  2. Route 2 is for owners of used electric vehicles, who have purchased their electric vehicle through the Used Electric Vehicle Loan.

Prospective applicants who are unsure about which route to take can seek advice by contacting electricvehiclesscotland@est.org.uk .

Electric vehicle chargepoint grant if you own or rent a flat; this grant has replaced the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme.  The award is either £250 or 75% off the cost to buy and install a charging socket (whichever amount is lower).

For landlords there are two grants available for installing chargepoints at a property you own.  The first is as above, although landlords can get up to 200 grants for residential properties and 100 grants for commercial properties.

The other option for landlords is the EV infrastructure grant, which can reduce the cost of wider building and installation work necessary to install multiple chargepoint sockets.  The grant can cover elements of infrastructure such as wiring and posts.  Up to £30,000 can be awarded, or 75% off the cost of the work; the sum is dependent on how many parking spaces the work covers.  Landlords can get up to 30 infrastructure grants per financial year, though each grant must be used for a different property.

4: EV infrastructure investment – what is the Scottish government doing?

For the financial year 2022-2023, The Scottish Government pledged £30 million to support the shift to zero emission transport, including support for zero emission car clubs and interest free loans for electric vehicles.

From Transport Scotland:

          Over the last ten years – Scottish Government grant funding has:

  • provided over £165 million of interest free loans to support the purchase of over 6100 vehicles.
  • provided over £4.9 million to support the installation of over 16,000 home charge points across Scotland.
  • Provided over £10 million to deliver 1500 charge points to businesses.
  • Established 38 car club vehicles with another 16 planned, with vehicles covering over 400,000 zero emission miles across Scotland.

This incentivisation funding is separate to the £50 million investment over the same period to establish 2,200 public charge points. A separate £47 million has also been invested to introduce 3450 vehicles into the public sector fleet.

Additionally, from June 2023, there is a mandatory standard in the domestic technical handbook which requires new builds to facilitate the charging of electric vehicles:

Standard 7.2 – Electric Vehicle Charging

Mandatory Standard

Every building must be designed and constructed in such a way that provision for the charging of electric vehicles is made where car parking spaces are located within the building or the curtilage of the building. Limitation This standard does not apply to— a) a non-domestic building where ten or fewer car parking spaces are present within the building or the curtilage of the building, b) alteration to, or extension of a building, other than major renovation works.

Parliamentary questions

This section of the blog contains recent parliamentary questions concerning the Scottish Government’s position on electric vehicles.

Question S6O-01281: Jim Fairlie (Perthshire South and Kinross-shire) (SNP) (23 June 2022):

To ask the Scottish Government what work it is undertaking to ensure that there is a suitable and sustainable electric vehicle charging network in place across Scotland.

Answered by The Minister for Transport (Jenny Gilruth) (23 June 2022):

Scotland has the most comprehensive public charging network in the United Kingdom outside London, with close to 3,000 public charge points, of which at least 740 are rapid chargers. Our focus is on growing that network so that it works seamlessly wherever you live or need to get to.

Our priorities are threefold: to encourage commercial investment through our new £60 million electric vehicle infrastructure programme; to introduce regulations on charge point installation in new buildings and developments; and to work with communities and designers to make charging as simple and reliable as visiting your local filling station.

Question S6O-02348: Stuart McMillan (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP) (08 June 2023)

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to reports that local authorities have encountered difficulties in engaging electric vehicle charger contractors to repair EV charge points.

Answered by The Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights (Patrick Harvie) (08 June 2023):

Through the grant funding that the Scottish Government has provided to local authorities to purchase warranty and maintenance agreements, we expect suppliers to honour their contractual obligations so that, when a charge point is broken, it is fixed on time. Local authorities that own EV charge points, including those on ChargePlace Scotland, are responsible for procuring chargers, selecting installers and agreeing appropriate maintenance packages with their chosen supplier. Once their initial servicing packages have expired, they may choose to extend agreements with their supplier or to seek alternative contractors.

Question S6W-18957: Liam McArthur, (Orkney Islands) (Scottish Liberal Democrats) (09 June 2023)

To ask the Scottish Government, further to its commitment to provide £60 million of public and private investment in Scotland’s electric vehicle (EV) charging network, how much public funding it plans to allocate to this commitment in each of the next five years.

Answered by the Minister for Transport (Fiona Hyslop) (22 June 2023):

A total of £30m of Scottish Government funding is being made available through the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund to support the aim of doubling the public network to 6,000 charge points by 2026; with the expectation of leveraging an additional £30m from private sources.

Transport Scotland is supporting local authorities to develop public electric vehicle charge point strategies and infrastructure expansion plans, to identify and take forward the opportunities to work with the private sector to grow Scotland’s public charging network. These plans are identifying local and regional charge point needs, the investment requirements, as well as the best approaches to delivering collaborative investments with commercial charge point operators.

Edward Stars, Career Ready Intern and Alex Arnott, Enquiries Officer, SPICe

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