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Leading the charge on electric vehicles

EVs are a key part of SSE’s greenprint, a five-point action plan to meet the twin objectives of helping the economy rebound whilst supporting the UK’s transition to net zero.

Surface transport makes up 23% of UK greenhouse gas emissions (115mtCO2e in 2018) and is now the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions.1 However, the good news is that transport is the sector most readily able to fast-track its decarbonisation by capitalising on the power industry’s carbon reduction success.

For the main source of transport emissions – small road vehicles – there’s a ready-made solution in the form of electric vehicles (EVs). From desirable cars to workhorse vans, more electric models are hitting the market, produced by newer names as well as established marques.

In addition to helping the UK reach net zero carbon emissions, EVs can be a cost-effective solution for fleets and drivers, with lower maintenance and running costs than their fossil fuel counterparts.2 In time, EVs could reduce costs further with Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) opportunities, through returning power to the network when not in use.

Importantly, for the communities in which we all live and work, a switch to EVs will improve air quality and reduce engine noise. It will also provide flexibility to the electricity system which can help integrate more renewable energy and maintain system stability. And it will create skilled, sustainable jobs and boost UK manufacturing.

SSE’s greenprint proposes three ways for the UK to lead the charge on EVs:

  1. Deploy the most extensive and efficient EV charging infrastructure in the world by 2025
  2. Accelerate decarbonisation of transport and increase EV take-up by ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030
  3. Work towards full decarbonisation of corporate fleets by 2030

Turbo-charged infrastructure

A significant barrier to EV uptake is range anxiety and lack of comfort that drivers will have access to EV charging infrastructure.2 To make the upfront financial commitment to shift to an EV, fleet managers and drivers need confidence that they will have adequate charging facilities at home, at workplaces, in transit and at their destination, and at appropriate speeds. The UK cannot make the same mistakes that were made with rural broadband and must provide fair access to EV charging infrastructure for all, ensuring communities are not left behind.

That’s why at SSE we want to see the UK deploy the most extensive and efficient charging network in the world by 2025. To deliver this both at speed and at scale, the government should work with local bodies and providers to determine the right charge point and funding solutions for each region. Deploying this infrastructure early would not only unlock EV demand, but also provide a wealth of green jobs across the UK.

Accelerating EVs

Even with the most extensive EV charging infrastructure in the world and with auto manufacturers scaling up EV production globally, consumers need to be converted too. Bolder regulation is needed to speed up this transition and decarbonisation of transport. The existing 2035 target to end the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans is helpful, but at SSE we believe the UK should phase these out by the earlier date of 2030 and support efforts to bring this forward further if possible.

Incentives also play a part. EVs are not subject to Vehicle Excise Duty – including tax on vehicles with a list price of more than £40,000 – or low emission zone charges. March’s budget extended plug-in vehicle grants until 2022-23, and Benefit In Kind changes – where the tax liability for fully electric company car drivers falls to 0% in 2020-21 and marginally increases to 1% in 2021-22 – have resulted in a renewed interest in company car schemes.

Clean corporate fleets

While a headline target on new sales of cars and vans is central to decarbonising transport, there is a clear need to ramp up carbon reduction in other forms of transport. There’s an opportunity for companies to show leadership here, with net-zero-focused organisations already undertaking significant moves to reduce their own emissions though initiatives like the EV100. SSE signed up to EV100 in 2019 and our fleet of 3,500 vehicles will be entirely electric by 2030.

To complement the headline target on cars and vans, the UK should target the full decarbonisation of taxis by 2030, and buses and rail by 2035, as well as working with businesses to support the full decarbonisation of corporate fleets by 2030. Our green electricity SSE EV contract is an ideal way for companies with EV fleets to save money and cut their carbon footprint. It comes in a range of fixed or flexible pricing, plus you’ll get Clarity, our free online energy management platform.

With businesses owning more than half of registered vehicles it’s crucial that companies lead the shift to electric. SSE EV lets fleets charge up with 100% renewable electricity and take advantage of lower demand and price overnight. Get in touch or contact your account manager to see how we can steer towards net zero together.

EV and Green Gas webinar

Energy consultants can join me and Adam French, Product Development Manager on 24 September when we’ll be talking about our new EV and Green Gas solutions.

Visit the Energy Live website for full details and to register free.

1 National Statistics

2 Go Ultra Low

3 PWC (2019) – Consumer Research into Rapid Charging, commissioned by National Grid

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Oliver McMillen

SSE Virtual Power Plant Director

Oliver is responsible for the development and delivery of Virtual Power Plant and Demand Side Response (DSR) related activity within SSE. As part of his role, Oliver works closely with external partners and colleagues to explore new products and services SSE could deliver using the VPP capability. He previously led the Corporate Affairs support – covering policy development, advocacy, and communications – for SSE’s Wholesale business.
View all posts by Oliver McMillen >

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