The Autumn Budget and recent government announcements surrounding the escalation of the electric vehicle (EV) adoption agenda are set to have a significant impact on the energy industry and the operational landscape for facilities managers and our smart city infrastructure - but only if we can lay out sufficient alternative energy infrastructure to support this transition. Here Chris Evans, deputy managing director of engineering consultancy Rolton Group, looks at what the future has in store?


hange is afoot; the urgency for a green transport system is higher than ever and cities - where 70 per cent of global C02 emissions originate - are the priority. It would be fair to say that the government has made progress in driving change in this area, no less than in the Autumn Budget where the chancellor made a nod to future mobility zones, a climate change levy and innovation in electric motor technology. In a bid to accelerate the drive for a

sustainable future, three things are clear; the onus on the integration and adoption of EVs should be first on the priority list for both private and public sector; secondly, that this EV evolution is central to how our smart city infrastructure develops and runs in the years to come; and lastly, that we are still a far cry from establishing a localised energy solution that will meet even the most basic demands of this evolving EV infrastructure. The Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, for

example, is the latest in a long line of piecemeal policy announcements surrounding the energy landscape, which are half-hearted and often contradictory. Freezing fuel duty is at odds with curtailing support for EV and hybrid vehicles and will leave many unsure of the government’s direction on low carbon vehicles, and the resulting considerations for facility management and infrastructure, their integration will create. What we really need is a long- term, costed 20-year transition programme to transform the UK’s infrastructure and create a smart grid capable of supporting EVs. There were aspects of the Chancellor’s Budget that demonstrated progress in the right direction to welcoming EV integration – including the £90m funding pledge to create future mobility zones, which will also support the integration of smart cities, building facilities and energy management. In the


detail of the Budget, it seems that the government is hoping to equalise gas and electrical rates by 2022, by introducing a climate change levy. This is due to the continued greening of the grid, paving the way for a new era of energy supply and moving us away from gas over to green electricity. It is encouraging to see £20m of the

Budget has been devoted to supporting the West Midlands Combined Authority mobility data institute and that next year the government will publish a refreshed Midlands Engine Strategy. The government has also confirmed

that they will be responding to the National Infrastructure Assessment through a National Infrastructure Strategy that will be published in 2019. It’s essential that the strategy be published sooner rather than later to allow facility managers and developers as much time as possible to source a localised energy solution and implement ahead of new guidelines being put into place. Additionally,

the Budget announced policies that will accelerate innovation and collaboration in

Figure 1: The EV evolution is central to how our smart city infrastructure develops and runs in the years to come

utilities regulation. Whilst this is a positive move, these policies should also encompass how best to upgrade networks to meet the future demands for EVs, in order to address the transitionary issues and concerns associated with our escalating development to a smart city infrastructure and the building management required to support its implementation. In creating a sustainable, smart grid solution to meet with EV integration, the vision should be to make the UK the world leader in infrastructure development to support our future transport needs. At the moment, the government’s approach is vehicle-led – or in other words, consumer-led – and this means we’re all reacting to market forces rather than collaborating together to achieve a national strategy, leaving a gaping pit in the drive for a sustainable future.

Figure 1: Chris Evans, deputy managing director of Rolton Group

OUTLOOK FOR 2019 The anticipated rollout of charging points to meet the needs of the increasing number of EV owners across the UK will bring to a head the fundamental challenge of making power accessible to everyone. The continuing influx of EVs is set to put increased pressure on our already overloaded National Grid. Forward-thinking developers are

starting to work towards energy solutions that marry meeting the UK’s housing shortage and the demands on energy to meet with increasing green

“The continuing influx of EVs is set to put increased pressure on our already

overloaded National Grid...”

qualifications, with the growth in EV charging. Smart city developers and integrators are in for a period of adjustment, but localised energy suppliers need to ensure that the new infrastructure is not built on a foundation of sand.

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