Accelerating the shift to Electric Vehicles

The acceleration towards sustainable transportation is being led by public bodies and commercial fleets, who are grasping the opportunity to make the shift to electric vehicles (EV) says John Hartley of Centrica Business Solutions.

In the following article he outlines why organisations are making the change to EV and what they have to consider when they do.

Organisations can make a huge contribution to reducing the threat of climate change by transitioning to electric fleet vehicles, providing at-work charging for employees or turning car parks into EV friendly spaces. EV lowers costs, improves the customer and employee experience and makes a contribution to reducing carbon.

Public and business sectors have the scale to realise these benefits in a material way. They also have the advantage of a range of grants and financial incentives to assist them in transitioning to EV and building the required infrastructure. This large scale can also throw up unique challenges, most notably in getting sufficient power to the charge points when there are lots concentrated on one site, as well as the complexity of designing, planning, developing and operating the supporting charging infrastructure.

Three key benefits of switching to EV:

1. Improve your sustainability and environmental compliance

Electric vehicles are crucial to decarbonising transport and improving air quality. By demonstrating leadership in providing EV charging infrastructure and transitioning fleet vehicles to EV, businesses and public bodies can play a major role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, while inspiring wider EV adoption across society. 

Organisations that fail to address their environmental responsibilities face a growing raft of financial penalties and green taxes. For example, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, which is expected to be rolled out in other cities, provides a powerful financial incentive to move to EV. 

2. Reduce costs and generate revenue

With the economies of scale of fleet management and falling technology prices for batteries, and charging infrastructure, the cost of EVs is reducing.  Long term cost savings can be made by making the switch from petrol and diesel. But electrifying transportation also unlocks opportunities to integrate your EV infrastructure with renewable on-site distributed solutions such as solar and battery storage, which can further reduce energy costs and enhance sustainability across your entire estate.

Installing onsite battery storage can also enable your business to earn money from your EV strategy by selling any spare power capacity back to the grid via lucrative Demand Side Response (DSR) and supply optimisation programmes. If grant funding is available this can be improved still further as upfront investment keeps ongoing operational costs low.

3. Improve your brand reputation and customer experience

Growing public concern about the threat of climate change demonstrates an urgent need to take action on sustainability and improve your environmental credibility. While regulatory targets matter, pressure from your stakeholders can often be a more powerful motivator to make the shift to clean transport. Customers’ expectations are growing and they will value the convenience of using onsite charge points, while workplace EV charging also offers an attractive addition to your employee’s benefits package. Moving your fleet to EV is an effective way of expressing your corporate social responsibility (CSR) and succeeding through delighting all your stakeholders.

Key considerations when planning an EV strategy

There are huge environmental and commercial benefits to making the shift to EV, but there are also a number of challenges. For example:

  • How do you connect and coordinate all the silos in the complex supply chain and various elements involved in developing a future-proofed EV project?
  • How do you secure sufficient sustainable power capacity to meet both immediate and future additional power needs?
  • How do you fund the cost of expanding your on-site generation and storage infrastructure without raiding your capital budgets?
  • How do you ensure the efficient long-term management of your EV operation using trusted software and apps that your drivers will find user-friendly?

Planning and implementing the complex EV infrastructure for at-work charging or back-to-base fleets requires specialist technical and regulatory expertise. Unless you have the right experience and resources available in-house, it’s likely that you will require expert support to guide your EV enablement package. This involves integrating the many disparate elements of the project, including software, hardware and energy provision; planning control; regulation, installation; operation and maintenance, etc.

It’s important to select a partner who has experience across the entire value chain, who will help to facilitate a joined-up approach between suppliers to avoid technical and operational inconsistencies.

Future-proofing your EV enablement solution to avoid obsolescence is difficult when technology is evolving so quickly, but this is no reason to delay the transition and the financial and environmental benefits that this can bring.

Centrica Business Solutions has created an EV Enablement solution to provide the complete end-to-end support to make the transition to EV simple and easy.  

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Electric vehicles reduce CO2 in Dundee

Centrica Business Solutions has designed and built an electric vehicle charging hub in Dundee, introducing fast and rapid chargers, solar power generation and on-site battery storage.

  • 30% of the city’s buses are now electric
  • 102 Plug-in taxis are now serving the city
  • 122 estimated tonnes of carbon reduction in the first year

Dundee City Council wanted to kick-start a strategy to encourage the switch to Electric Vehicles (EV) across the city. The Council needed a trusted partner to deliver the work of its flagship EV charging hub, funded by the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) Go Ultra Low (GUL) award fund.

Centrica Business Solutions was selected to help design and build one of the first city charger hubs in the UK to combine EV charging with on-site storage and renewable generation. This involved designing the electrical infrastructure on site, contributing to the overall project design and budgeting, and programme managing the build, including civil and ground works and finish.

The sustainable transportation project entailed working with multiple stakeholders to deliver a coordinated solution, along with the management of the new connection to the grid.

The results

Dundee City Council now has the largest fleet of electric vehicles of any local authority in the UK, with 87 to date. In the first year, the project saved an estimated 122 tonnes of carbon emissions.

The city now has one of the most extensive charging infrastructures in the UK. Nine out of the top 10 most used rapid chargers in Scotland are located in Dundee. The city also boasts 102 ‘plug-in’ electric taxis and 30% of buses are now electric.

Following the success of this initial project, Centrica Business Solutions has also been selected to construct a new Queen Street charging hub.

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