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Peak EV charging demand on the strategic road network (SYSTRA)

1. Outline

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) commissioned SYSTRA to conduct research to explore the differences between typical and peak demand for EV charging along the strategic road network and assess the impacts of these differences on the required levels of charging infrastructure. This included analysis of traffic flow data and chargepoint usage data sourced from Zapmap, as well as modelling to determine the optimal charging network to meet each demand scenario.

2. Key messages

The key findings of the research were:

  • There are substantial peaks in both traffic flows and charging demand above typical levels, which need to be taken into account when planning the provision of charging infrastructure.
  • Both sets of peaks are focused around weekends, but charging demand peaks do not necessarily correspond with traffic flow peaks. Peak dates are also different between different routes.
  • The optimal charging network designed to cater for typical levels of demand will not be sufficient to meet demand peaks. To maintain acceptable wait times and enable drivers to charge reliably on peak days, the network will need to be 12-18% larger by 2035 than if it were planned just to meet typical demand.

As a result, the report draws three main conclusions on the actions that are required:

  • The Government and the charging industry must actively monitor provision of and plans for charging infrastructure as the fleet composition changes to ensure that it will meet drivers’ needs.
  • Network planning must account for peak demand, not just typical demand. This could be achieved through either additional permanent infrastructure or more flexible mobile solutions.
  • Government support or regulation may be needed to ensure that this occurs, as investment from the private sector is expected to focus on installing chargepoints that will see high utilisation year-round.