Electric Vehicle Evolution
This article was first published in the CLA’s Land and Business Magazine – April 2020.
With electric vehicles set to become more affordable in the next few years, Hugh Taylor of independent power and energy consultants Roadnight Taylor looks at the opportunities for rural landowners
Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates the cost of buying an EV will be on par with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles as soon as 2022. Exponential EV market growth is anticipated from this point.
For some rural businesses, EV charge points are already delivering competitive advantage over similar local businesses, raising customer satisfaction, highlighting environmental credentials, adding income from selling energy, or gaining rent from hosting faster charging infrastructure.
Here, three real-life scenarios give a flavour of rural EV opportunities:
Personal EV charging
If a family member works off-farm and travels, the personal and business benefits of running an EV, including tax breaks, may well stack up.
For this, a single 7kW (circa 20 miles per hour charge) or 22kW (circa 60 miles per hour charge) charge point would be suitable. In most cases, a single EV charger can be installed with few modifications.
As a guide, a 7kW single installed on a wall close to the supply point costs around £1,100, before grant funding.
For EV owners, charge point availability influences their accommodation choices. Being one of the few accommodation providers with charge points reaps early advantage over neighbours. A leading online booking provider suggests that less than 1% of holiday home listings in Devon, as an example, have EV charging facilities available.
Guests will arrive and expect to plug in to be charged at least overnight, if not sooner. Sites will need to have the capability to charge several cars simultaneously and conveniently. A 7kW charge point will be sufficient to allow guests to charge overnight, while 22kW will allow a guest to go back out again in an hour or so.
22kW charge points normally require a three-phase supply. However, if there is already large electrical demand onsite and import capacity is limited, this could restrict the size, type and number of charge points. A greater number of 7kW chargers may also be preferable than a single 22kW charger.
As a guide, two 7kW charge point sockets installed on a wall close to the supply point costs around £1,300 before grant funding. Without accounting for any infrastructure upgrades, a similar charge point installed in a car park on a pole and getting the power underground could cost around £2,000 before grant funding. The difference in cost between like-for-like 7kW and 22kW charge points can be negligible, depending on brand.
For farm shops or destinations with cafés or other activities, installing charge points will encourage EV owners to visit the site, visit more often and stay longer – combining to make more customers spend more money.
How long customers will want to stay on site, balanced with the site’s electrical supply capacity will determine the type and size of charge points installed. At a minimum, a few 7kW charge points will be necessary. 22kW charge points will hold customers for an hour or so.
Enterprises that double as a convenient stop on main or tourist routes, for example, will have a harder choice. Offer too fast a charging service and customers won’t stay on site long enough – but provide too slow a charge, and customers may not stop at all.
Ultimately, type and size of charge point will be a balance between installation cost, the capacity on site, the costs of additional capacity and how valuable the customer is. For some, paying for infrastructure upgrade costs or battery storage will be feasible to keep and attract EV drivers.
Making users pay for the electricity used to charge their EV is an option – and could be a future consideration. It’s important to choose the right hardware from the outset if you may later decide to charge a fee.
Working with charging networks
Other commercial options exist. For a faster charge of 50+kW (over 200 miles per hour), charging networks pay the hardware, installation and operating costs, with site owners receive ground rent. There are many of these networks, including BP Chargemaster, Engenie and Instavolt.
Finally, some developers are seeking sites to deploy EV charging service stations on major road arteries. For sites located on significant traffic-flow routes – and with the right grid attributes – significant lease revenues for hosting such hubs are available.
Domestic grants: The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) provides grant funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing EV charge points at domestic properties, up to the value of £500 per charge point.
Business grants: For eligible businesses, the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is available. This scheme provides grant support towards the up-front costs of the purchase and installation of EV charge points up to the value of £500 per charge point, up to 20 charging points. This does not apply if users are required to pay for energy.