October 8, 2019


Developers need to future proof new builds to ensure they are ready to switch over to electric vehicles.

A mix of climate change and governmental pressure will drive the switch to electric cars over the coming decade. Developers will need to be in the fast lane if they are going to ensure this transportation revolution takes hold and they meet the expectations of a greener-conscious public.

Currently there are around 50 electric models of car out on the market and the motor industry expects this to rise to 500 within five years. The expectation is this will range from everything from run-around city cars to larger four-wheel drive SUVs.

As well as cutting air pollution levels, electric vehicles are cheaper to run than their fossil-fuel counterparts, and as take-up increases, will ensure they are cheaper to buy or lease as well.

Charging your car at night when demand is reduced will be incentivised.

There might even be instances when you are paid to charge your car when the electricity system needs us to use more power. This often happens when there is too much renewable energy on the system, like windy nights. It is difficult to turn wind farms off, but easier to turn car chargers on.

But change comes at a cost. Housing associations will need to factor in additional expense to handle the infrastructure of charging points.

Social landlords must switch on to electric vehicles

Wall-mounted charging points typically cost £500, while floor-mounted dual output chargers sell for £1,600. It is a significant cost in addition to the potential extra demand on the electricity grid. A development of 100 properties would usually require a new electric substation costing in excess of £100k.

The profile of climate change issues and the rise of environmental campaigners, such as 16-year-old Greta Thunburg who addressed the United Nations this week to urge government leaders to take action, will mean housing providers can no longer sit on the fence when it comes to electric charging.

Many housing associations and local authorities have played a waiting game to see how the developing charging technology will evolve. They cite too little information on driver behaviour as the reason for stalling – will drivers want to charge at home, on the street or en route? Will we prefer electric charging posts or underground connections?

Increasingly councils are taking the future-proofing approach and expecting developers to provide a number of spaces to have cabling in place so parking spots can have charging facilities activated as demand increases.

A number of local authorities are already leading the charge. In Swindon all new detached homes must have a wallbox charger to regulate charging time and speed on the network. Other developments with parking must have 30 per cent of spaces with a charger and a further 30 per cent with the cabling infrastructure. In Leeds the city council is requiring all new homes to have one charging point per parking space.

So far an estimated 13,000 public electric charging points have been installed in the UK, which is a five-fold increase since 2011. If Britain is to fully embrace the electric revolution, housing associations will need to step up a gear.

Charging electric vehicles is a challenge social landlords must invest more in