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COMMENT 15


ARE YOU READY FOR THE ELECTRIC CAR REVOLUTION?


Chris Evans, deputy managing director of Rolton Group


Chris Evans of Rolton Group explores the impact electric vehicles will have on future residential developments.


A


n electric revolution is well and truly upon us – and it’s a game changer for residential development. There are now thought to be


over 108,000 full electric or hybrid vehicles (EVs) on our roads – more than a 20-fold increase in the past three years alone – and this is set to rise with consumer adoption fuelled by car manufacturers and government investment. However, this transformation is already


INSTALLING COMMUNAL CHARGING AREAS, FOR EXAMPLE IN HIGH RISE CITY CENTRE SCHEMES, COULD ALSO PROVIDE AN ONGOING SOURCE OF INCOME


impacting on our energy infrastructure, as demand for power grows. With more and more owners seeking to charge their EVs at home, the National Grid has warned that people may have to make a choice between boiling a kettle or charging their car. Given that the charging of vehicles will often coincide with peak usage of power within the house itself – i.e. when the resident returns home from work and they are using other devices, i.e. kettles, hobs, etc – there will clearly be power supply issues for individual homeowners. With the potential of streets full of electric vehicle owners all plugging in simultaneously in years to come, we could see more widespread impact, including a greater likelihood of regular power ‘brownouts’. Housebuilders and developers should be asking


themselves if they are fully prepared for this in future developments. The challenge is to use new technologies, engineering and experience to deliver smart solutions that meet the evolving needs of homeowners – and that means having a robust, future-proof energy infrastructure in place. The Government has made its commitment to EVs clear through investment in related technologies, and its recent announcement banning the sale of all solely diesel and petrol cars by 2040 means the clock is now ticking for the developers and policymakers. There are signs that forward-thinking


developers and planners are starting to work towards solutions. The Greater London Authority (GLA), for example, has implemented policies requiring all new developments to include 20 per cent active EV charge points, with an additional 20 per cent passive capacity in the infrastructure to allow for future connections. Progressive housebuilders have an opportunity to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive


marketplace by installing home charging points at new build developments. Not only would this potentially result in a boost to house prices and increased sales to the growing number of EV adopters, it would also go some way towards raising their brand profile and helping them to meet sustainability targets. Furthermore, installing communal charging areas – for example, in high rise city centre developments – could also provide an ongoing source of income. In time, there is even the possibility of EV


batteries using the shared facility being combined as part of an energy storage solution (Vehicle to Grid system), providing an income stream through giving energy back to the grid. However, the anticipated roll out of charging


points to meet the needs of the increasing number of EV owners will bring to a head a fundamental challenge in terms of availability of power. While theoretically, the grid’s capacity to provide the increase in power required for electric vehicles can be facilitated short term, over the long term this poses more of a challenge. Furthermore, higher uptake in certain areas combined with lack of infrastructure investment could create more imminent and significant local-level challenges. One solution could be decentralised energy


generation, allowing less reliance on the UK grid. Off-grid renewable power supply solutions, such waste to energy plants, PV or wind turbines would not only facilitate the power requirements for EVs (if not completely, then at least in part depending on the energy generation method selected) but would also secure future energy supply for a specific site, and contribute to developers’ environmental targets. It’s predicted that 35 per cent of all vehicles on


UK roads will be EVs by 2035, rising to 66 per cent by 2050. Their inexorable rise is putting increasing pressure on developers to plan now for future needs, while addressing the housing crisis. Traditional models for residential development will no longer suffice, as consumer preferences and demands change. Until a cohesive and robust strategy to address the infrastructure needs is developed, homebuilders may be erecting castles built on sand.


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