Reflections on an important EV taskforce

SSE has long been one of the UK’s largest providers of renewable energy, and an ongoing advocate of sustainability, so I was delighted that Enterprise’s contribution to a greener future was recognised this week when I was asked to join the Mayor of London’s new EV taskforce. The taskforce is dedicated to boosting the availability of electric vehicle charging infrastructure to help increase take-up of electric vehicles across the capital, supporting the Mayor’s ambition of making London a zero-emission city.

Pollution from vehicles hurts our environment, it impacts our and our children’s health, and damages our economy. Action must be taken to improve air quality, and electric vehicles can provide a clean, green solution. London requires a major expansion in charging infrastructure to help businesses, taxi drivers and Londoners switch to electric, and rightly the Mayor believes this must be delivered in partnership with the private sector. SSE Enterprise is already playing its part in this; we have installed over 670 electric car charging points across London, and played a pivotal role in the deployment of London’s first large scale, zero-emission, single deck bus fleet by providing 43 electric charging points at Waterloo Bus Depot for Go-Ahead London.

So what are the challenges for the taskforce? Undoubtedly, to achieve the Mayor’s aims the active participation of boroughs, who manage 95 per cent of London’s roads, is vital.  Delivering charge points across the capital for Bollore we have found coordination of activities within boroughs and gaining appropriate approvals time consuming. If this could be improved it could accelerate the rate of infrastructure deployment.

Siting of infrastructure can also be a challenge, with electrical networks already at capacity in many locations. Working with the network operators will be critical to smooth infrastructure delivery, so I was pleased to see their representatives will be participating in the taskforce’s activities. SSE Enterprise is already innovating in this area, creating bespoke charging solutions for clients wishing to install infrastructure in constrained areas, but we must continue to work in partnership to make progress in this area.

It is also worth noting that deployment issues are not constrained to private vehicles, to be a zero emissions city, London faces the mammoth challenge of transitioning its bus fleet to zero-emissions, as well as taxis, light vans and commercial fleets. To deliver the Mayor’s zero emission ambition change will have to start taking place fast across all of these sectors.

While there may be challenges, positive progress is being made too, and at the first taskforce meeting I was overwhelmed by the positive attitude in the room. I know we, and other representatives, are prepared to help the Mayor put his foot on the accelerator, and drive forward deployment of infrastructure to help provide a clean, green, air pollution free future for the capital’s residents.

About the author

Neil Kirkby Managing Director, Enterprise

Neil Kirkby is the Managing Director of SSE Enterprise which is responsible for delivering energy and energy management, multi-utility networks, contracting and lighting solutions, and telecoms for organisations of all sizes. Before joining SSE in January 2017 he was managing director of global power networks for Balfour Beatty.

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