This is an article from the December Bulletin Issue written by Ian Butherway, Electro-Technical & Testing Solutions Ltd (ETTS).

With politicians panicking about their chances of election next time round, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the Government has decided to ban petrol and diesel vehicles within 10 years. I don’t think many decision makers have much of a clue about what might happen from 2030 – 10 years isn’t long for a manufacturer to completely change their propulsion system from scratch and how many, like Mitsubishi, might simply just pull out of the UK market.

But for me the real issue will be infrastructure. While average house supplies have risen steadily from 60 amp through 80 to now 100 amp being the norm, soon this won’t be enough.

With oil fired heating already outlawed in new build houses, and gas heating to soon follow suit, space and water heating will be all electric, albeit via air or ground source heat pumps.

To heat an average house in the UK would need a 11KW air source heat pump. Add in a 9.5KW shower and maybe 0.5KW of general stuff and you will be up to 21KW already. That equates to 91 amps. Then you have mum with her Renault Zoe, Dad with his Tesla and 2 young adults with their electric transport all needing charging to get to work tomorrow! Well, that will need 120 amps all night, minimum – so where does that leave the infrastructure – from the home all the way back through the grid to the power station. I read a couple of weeks ago that by 2040 we will need double the output that we have today. Having spoken to our local DNO, they tell me that soon all new build houses will have 3 phase supplies.

And that brings me on to the filling station.

With the Government legislating for them to be fitted, I see two scenarios here:

1. The supermarket, particularly with a restaurant, will install large fast chargers stretching the grid and infrastructure further.

2. The smaller, particularly independent filling station, who will simply fit the cheapest they can get just to have something in place.

In both cases they will probably be installed by someone who has no idea what they should be doing on a forecourt so will no doubt not conform to the hazardous area requirements. And that’s if it conforms to current wiring regs, BS7671. We have seen some awful installs already albeit not on forecourts, one of which had to get the NICEIC involved!

We fit EV chargers but don’t publicise this much, as there appear to be so many “specialist” companies jumping on the bandwagon offering cheap installations via even cheaper sub-contractors! We are not interested in the race to the bottom. Imagine these people installing on a forecourt!

I spoke to someone a few weeks ago who needed to attend a meeting across the country. He worked out his route based on public charging points, On the way back from his meeting, the first one he stopped out was out of order. No problem – there was another just a few miles down the road. There were several here, but all were full. He eventually found one with about 2 miles range left.

OK, things should get better. But in 9 years? With many more electric vehicles? Maybe not.

So, some of you might say, the answer lies in the towns and cities surely? Let’s concentrate on electric here. Cars here do less miles and cause more pollution. But not many have off-road parking and a sizeable proportion don’t even live on ground level. HSE will have a field day with all the tripping hazards, and damaged leads as time goes by.

And who came up with the idea of putting EV chargers on lamp posts? As a HERS registered company (Highway Electrical Registration Scheme) I can tell you that the lighting infrastructure was designed to power the lights on top, not sockets to charge cars unless these were about 2 amp which would take a week to provide a 100 mile charge.

What about goods vehicles, large and small? They won’t have the range, not within 9 years anyway, to be of much use.

To upgrade the infrastructure in time would be pointless, as so much of the roads would be dug up no-one could go anywhere anyway. And the machines digging them up would be on charge more than they would be digging.

And while many say it’s an opportunity for businesses like ours, they are obviously not aware of the current skills shortage we face right now.

It’s all very well for politicians to make these knee jerk decisions, but then what? Well, that’s someone else’s problem! And in a few years it will be a problem.

Read more articles like this in the APEA Bulletin. Become a member today.