What is it?
On 9 July 2018 the Government published its Road to Zero strategy. This sets out how the Government plans to lead the world in zero vehicle emissions. It follows the Government’s Air Quality Plan which prohibits the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. This means that electric vehicles are going to be part of our future and we need to ensure that we have the infrastructure needed to power them.
The strategy includes a number of initiatives that will have a significant impact on the real estate industry. They largely relate to the provision of charging infrastructure that will be needed for all cars on UK roads to be electric.
What’s the plan?
There are currently 14,000 public chargepoints across the UK, but the Government wants many, many more. It wants the UK to have one of the best charging networks in the world and it is going to use both the carrot and stick approach to get there.
A consultation on a new requirement for chargepoint infrastructure for new homes is expected “as soon as possible”. Non-residential development is also likely to be caught, as proposals to change Building Regulations to require new charging facilities are also mentioned. Workplace charging is a particular focus, so we can expect to see charging requirements for offices and other places of work in the near future.
Changes to national planning policy to require charging facilities are also expected. Highway works could get more expensive as the plan is for all new street lighting columns to have charging points in appropriate areas. There has also been discussion in the market about how the wayleave process needs to be sped up to make delivery of charging infrastructure happen, which is not something picked up by the Road to Zero.
In terms of carrots, the Government is increasing its investment in this area by making funding available for workplace charging schemes. The proposals also extend to bus and taxi facilities.
What does this mean for you?
Whether you work in the residential or commercial sector, you need to be electric vehicle ready. As well as meeting occupier/end user demand, there are a number of opportunities that this potential £7.6 trillion market presents to landlords and investors. Getting in early to attract tenants and purchasers with the latest technology could set investors and developers apart from their competitors, but there may also be other revenue generating possibilities that they may wish to explore, such as installing communal charging areas within new and existing schemes.
It is estimated that two thirds of vehicles on the road will be electric by 2050, but as there is no standardised charging system at present, developers and investors may find it hard to choose a product that will truly future proof sites. Complexities apply to mixed use schemes, where you will need to think about how different uses will share energy. Considered early, though, this can fuel innovative solutions which can allow uses to complement each other. One example is the use of kinetic pavements (where energy is generated from people walking over grids) on the commercial part of a site being used to charge electric vehicles on the residential part or vice versa.
There is plenty to ponder about how this will work in practice and how the real estate sector can tap into this new and exciting field. Dubbed as the biggest technological advancement of the motor industry since the invention of the motor car in the 1880s, this is clearly an area of rapid growth and it seems evitable that sparks will fly.