£400m Treasury pledge for EV charging infrastructure ‘needs more investigation’

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The UK Treasury announced new funding to expand the infrastructure surrounding new EV charging points, but now faces scrutiny over the terms of private investment and the fact that the fund had already been announced two years ago.

The Treasury announced it has secured fresh money to help develop rapid charging infrastructure points for electric vehicles in the UK.

A £400m fund aimed at helping develop rapid charging infrastructure points for electric vehicles was mentioned, but in fact this fund was found to have already been announced two years ago. The confusion as to how much money was already announced sparked confusion and criticism.

The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), which focuses on accelerating the adoption of low-carbon vehicles and fuels, told E&T that the intention to launch the fund was first announced in the 2017 budget.

A spokesperson at the Treasury told E&T that the total of £400m will be made up of £200m in government contribution and £200m from private investors.

“Each investment is match-funded. For this third [investment round] – £70m investment – £35m was invested by the Treasury and the other £35m is invested by private investors”.

LowCVP’s spokesperson added that details relating to the commercial nature of the fund remained opaque: “The £70m [that] was announced this week was the conclusion of negotiations with financial partners, including the private equity fund manager Zouk Capital”.

LowCVP’s spokesperson told that they “support the use of innovative policies to help establish the low carbon/emission transport transition” but also explained that the combination of public and private capital is being invested on the premise of generating a financial return: “So it is not a standard government subsidy programme, such as the Plug-In Car grant or the various chargepoint grant schemes managed by OLEV”. Because it is partly commercial money, it will require a return. It raises questions over how the money is effectively used, the spokesperson said.

The Treasury spokesperson added that only the fund manager is in full control of the fund and can make independent commercial decisions about it. However, those would lie within parameters set by the government. Specifics on the terms and conditions regarding financial returns expected by government or private investors were not communicated to E&T.

The new announcement by the Treasury was met with enthusiasm by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who welcomed the progress, saying: “It is fantastic there is already a rapid charge point at almost every motorway service station and now more charging stations than petrol stations”.

In August, a Japanese carmaker revealed that the count of EV stations is now higher than the number of fuel stations in the country.

 

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