UK's electric car charging point network 'needs to expand by 20 times'

Britain’s electric car charging point network will have to expand by up to TWENTY times current levels to cope with increased demand after sales ban on petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030, experts warn

  • Sale of petrol and diesel cars will be banned in 2030 under a ‘green industrial revolution’ says Boris Johnson
  • But motoring experts have warned the electric car charging network will have to expand by 20 times to cope
  • The Government has promised to pump £1.3billion into scaling up the rollout of charge points across the UK 

Britain’s electric car charging point network will need a huge expansion ahead of a ban on the sales of petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030, experts have today warned.

Motoring experts warn the network will have to increase by up to twenty times its current levels to cope with the increase in demand.

It comes as Boris Johnson today heralded a ‘green industrial revolution’ as he launched a ten-point for the environment, which he said could create 250,000 jobs and slash the country’s carbon emissions.

One of the points includes a ban on the sale electric and diesel vehicles within 10 years.

But motoring groups have raised three major concerns over the ‘incredibly ambitious proposal’ – including the need for a massively expanded electric car charging network.  

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car?, suggests the number of devices needs to be 10 or even 20 times higher than it is now to cope with the increased demand.

The Government however says it will pump £1.3billion into scaling up the rollout of chargepoints for electric vehicles in homes, streets and motorways across the UK, so ‘people can more easily and conveniently charge their cars’.

Britain’s electric car charging point network will need a huge expansion ahead of a ban on the sales of petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030, experts have today warned. Motoring experts warn the network will have to increase by up to twenty times its current levels to cope with the increase in demand.

It comes as Boris Johnson today heralded a ‘green industrial revolution’ as he launched a ten-point for the environment, which he said could create 250,000 jobs and slash the country’s carbon emissions

According to Department for Transport figures, there were 19,487 charging devices available as of September 30 this year. This is up seven per cent from three months earlier.

More than 1,200 charging devices for public use were installed in the UK between July and September, recent Department for Transport (DfT) analysis shows.  

And last month finishing touches were being made to Britain’s first forecourt only for electric vehicles.  

The station in Braintree, Essex, is the first of a £1billion nationwide network of 100 electric forecourts planned over the next five years.

But the most inexpensive option for electric car drivers currently is private charging at home.

Electric car drivers who can park in a garage or on a driveway can hook-up to specialised home charging stations, while some electric vehicles allow owners to  plug into a standard three-pin domestic socket – though this is a slow option.

The Office of Low Emissions (OLEV) offers grants of up to £350 towards the instillation of electric car charging points for vehicles bought after 2016. 

Finishing touches are being made to Britain’s first forecourt only for electric vehicles before it opens next month in Braintree, Essex

The 2½-acre site has been built with 24 charging points which can replenish the batteries of the latest plug-in models in around 20 to 30 minutes

What options do electric vehicle owners have for charging their cars? 

As of September this year, there were 19,487 public charging devices available, which is up seven per cent from three months earlier.

More than 1,200 charging devices for public use were installed in the UK between July and September, recent Department for Transport (DfT) analysis shows. 

And the Government has promised £1.3billion to bulk up the scale up the rollout of chargepoints for electric vehicles in homes, streets and motorways across the UK.

Last month finishing touches were being made to Britain’s first forecourt only for electric vehicles.  

The station in Braintree, Essex, is the first of a £1billion nationwide network of 100 electric forecourts planned over the next five years.

But the most inexpensive option for electric car drivers currently is private charging at home.

Electric car drivers who can park in a garage or on a driveway can hook-up to specialised home charging stations, while some electric vehicles allow owners to  plug into a standard three-pin domestic socket – though this is a slow option.

The Office of Low Emissions (OLEV) offers grants of up to £350 towards the instillation of electric car charging points for vehicles bought after 2016. 

Those who cannot park directly outside their home could soon see new charge points installed in lampposts and bollards near their houses.

Companies such as Ubitricity, who have around 1,800 public charge points, are leading the way in such schemes – which have the potential to be implemented in millions of streets nationwide.  

Last year EDF energy signed a deal with Ubitricity to power the company’s points with renewable energy.

Others who cannot park on roads outside their home could instead rely on office car parking spots to charge their vehicles up while at work.

Earlier this month, an energy tech-firm in Lancashire, Businesswise Solutions, announced plans to offer free access to electric charging points to staff.

According to the website, Business Cloud, to help get 80 per cent of its staff to switch to electric vehicles by 2025.

Other firms with car parks have or could still offer similar schemes, while many councils are now installing many more charging points in public car parks, which can also be used while people are at work.

However those who do not have access to charging points at home, or at work face two issues in using the public network – access and electricity costs.

An Ecotricity charger at a motorway service station will cost £3 to connect for up to 45 minutes, plus 30p for each kWh of electric, while Shell stations, simply charge for the electricity, with the current rate around 40p/kWh. 

However, for regular users, some companies, such as the Polar network, offer pay monthly subscriptions.

Currently some councils, including East Riding Council, offer electric car users free parking and free charging points in its car parks – as an incentive to encourage drivers to go green.   

Those who cannot park directly outside their home could soon see new charge points installed in lampposts and bollards near their houses.

Companies such as Ubitricity, who have around 1,800 public charge points, are leading the way in such schemes – which have the potential to be implemented in millions of streets nationwide.  

Last year EDF Energy, which has its own network of 3,000 points through its company Pod Point, signed a deal with Ubitricity to power the company’s points with renewable energy.

Others who cannot park on roads outside their home could instead rely on office car parking spots to charge their vehicles up while at work.

Earlier this month, an energy tech-firm in Lancashire, Businesswise Solutions, announced plans to offer free access to electric charging points to staff.

According to the website, Business Cloud, to help get 80 per cent of its staff to switch to electric vehicles by 2025.

Other firms with car parks have or could still offer similar schemes, while many councils are now installing many more charging points in public car parks, which can also be used while people are at work.

However those who do not have access to charging points at home, or at work face two issues in using the public network – access and electricity costs.

An Ecotricity charger at a motorway service station will cost £3 to connect for up to 45 minutes, plus 30p for each kWh of electric, while Shell stations, simply charge for the electricity, with the current rate around 40p/kWh. 

However, for regular users, some companies, such as the Polar network, offer pay monthly subscriptions.

Currently some councils, including East Riding Council, offer electric car users free parking and free charging points in its car parks – as an incentive to encourage drivers to go green.   

Alongside cost, access to a public charging point is also a current problem in some areas.

In February this year, an interactive map revealed the scale of Britain’s electric vehicle charging points and shows how the infrastructure varies around the country, with London lagging behind other cities.

London came bottom of a list of ten cities when measuring the percentage of its charging locations that put out more than 43kW of power when plugged in.

This amount of power is the qualifying criteria a charging station must meet in order to be classified as ‘rapid charge’, according to the firm that collected the data.

Just 8.56 per cent of all charging points in London are classified as rapid charge, whereas Leeds tops the list with 43.14 per cent of all sockets churning out more than 43kW.

The graphic, developed by Esri UK using data from Open Charge Map, allows users to see charging locations in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Bristol, Bradford and Leeds.

London, despite coming bottom of the list for the percentage of rapid charge points, had by far the most charging points overall.

A total of 184 rapid charging stations are found throughout London, more than the other nine cities combined (166).

ESRI also mapped the ten cities individually, so that they could be seen outside of the interactive tool.

Yellow lightning flashes in the images show rapid charge point locations while the red locations are the standard chargers. The coloured shading (red, amber, green) shows the percentage of rapid charge points.

Behind Leeds with the highest percentage of rapid charging points are Bradford with 36.0 per cent and Bristol with 32.43 per cent.

When rating the amount of rapid chargers compared to the population of the city they are in, London ranks middle of the pack, coming in fifth with one rapid charging point per ever 48,201 people.

By this metric, Leeds still came out on top with one 43kW or above charger for every 35,794 people. However, Sheffield was worst of the ten cities studied, with only one charger point for every 82,826 residents.

The data for the study was gathered from the latest Open Charge Map national data. Conflicting figures exist for charging points around the country due to there being a lack of one central governing body. For example, Open Charge found 184 charging platforms in London, whereas Transport for London claims they provide 232.

London came bottom of a list of ten cities when measuring the percentage of charging locations over 43kW – the classification for ‘rapid charge’, according to the firm that collected the data. London, despite coming bottom of the list for percentage of rapid charge points, had by far the most charging points — both above and below 43kW

Leeds tops the list of British cities with the share of its electric vehicle charging ports classified as rapid. A total of 43.14 per cent of all sockets above 43kW – the threshold to be considered ‘rapid charge’

Drivers, business and economists slam PM’s ‘Stalinist’ plan to ban new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030

By Rory Tingle, Mark Duell and Rory Tingle for MailOnline

Drivers, business and economists today let rip at Boris Johnson’s ‘Stalinist’ ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 – warning rushing the transition is impossible and electric vehicles are still out of reach for ordinary Britons. 

The PM heralded a ‘green industrial revolution’ as he launched a ten-point, £12billion plan for the environment, saying it could create 250,000 jobs and slash the country’s carbon emissions. 

But the Alliance of British Drivers, condemned the plan as flying in the face of the free market, saying the charging infrastructure was not even ready. 

Other experts questioned whether enough electric vehicles will be in production to meet demand by 2030 – a date that did not feature in the Tory election manifesto – suggesting the costs will be so high that only the ‘wealthy’ will be able to drive.

And there were complaints that the ‘authoritarian’ programme will come with an ‘immense’ price tag, at a time when the government is already borrowing record sums due to the coronavirus crisis. 

Nigel Humphries of the Alliance of British Drivers told MailOnline: ‘If you’ve got to the point that you need to ban something then that shows you’ve got no confidence in the alternative. There’s something Stalinist about it.

‘Where’s the free market in all of this that the so-called Conservative Party is meant to be protecting? It’s also far, far too early and does not give the motor industry much time to prepare.

‘There’s also something serious that needs to be done with the charging infrastructure if everybody is going to be able to use one.’ 

Professor Peter Wells, Director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University, told MailOnline: ‘There are few things that might get in the way of this.

‘I’m not sure the UK industry – including companies like Jaguar Land Rover – will be ready to deliver enough electric vehicle by that point.

‘The chief bottleneck so far is on battery supply. That is being solved across Europe but we’re a bit behind the pace here in the UK.

‘There’s also a concern on the retail side too. Repairing and maintaining these cars requires new skills and I’m not sure there enough people trained up.

‘It’s a nice vision but I think there has to be concern about whether it can be realisable by the industry.’

Nicholas Lyes of the RAC warned that many motorists would be nervous about the switch to electric cars, given their limited driving range and charging problems.

Honda Europe’s senior vice-president Ian Howells said recently that banning all new petrol and diesel cars, including hybrids, by 2035 would ‘restrict consumer choice’.

‘An approach that relies only on expensive electric cars risks turning driving into a privilege only afforded to the wealthy, while pricing those who most need it out of personal mobility,’ he said.

Mark Littlewood, director of the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank, said the plans ‘rely on the false assumption that the state is best placed to pick winners when it comes to technology and the future of energy’.

‘The measures announced largely rely on heavy-handed prohibitions – such as the ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars – rather than price incentives,’ he said.

‘The motor industry has demonstrated that markets are far better at improving environmental outcomes than government mandates: in response to price signals and customer demand, the engine technologies of today are far less polluting and far more efficient than those of yesteryear.

‘Where governments have intervened, they have often got it wrong, the diesel scandal being the most notable example.

‘It is hard to think of a more inefficient and less liberal approach to reducing carbon emissions.

‘The decision to bring forward once again the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles is yet another regressive, anti-motorist policy.

‘The ban is not only authoritarian but is likely to impose huge costs on drivers: electric vehicles still only account for 7 per cent of new car sales in the UK, and are likely to remain far more expensive than their petrol and diesel counterparts.

‘The cost of rolling out extensive charging infrastructure across the country, including in rural areas, will be immense – the price of which will be borne by the already over-stretched taxpayer.’

AA president Edmund King said the 2030 date was ‘incredibly ambitious’. 

He added that the electric revolution could flourish if steps were taken to tackle the concerns about electric vehicles including cost, range anxiety and the charging network.

‘One of the biggest challenges will be for car makers to change more than 100 years of combustion engine production to cater for an electric future within a decade,’ he said. 

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said setting a date is ‘the easy part’.

He went on: ‘What happens in the lead up to this cliff edge? And how do we create a genuinely affordable mass market in electric cars between now and 2030?’

‘Currently, less than 1% of the UK’s 33 million cars are plug-ins.’

 

This figure, when compared to the total amount of ports of 2,150, gives a slightly higher percentage of 10.8 per cent. This still puts London dead last despite irregularities in the data.

Esri UK applied city boundaries and plotted the relevant datasets. It only features publicly accessible rapid charging points and does not display private ones.  

Speaking in February Christina Calderato, TfL’s Head of Transport Strategy and Planning, said London had an ‘extensive electric charging network with more than 400 rapid charging points, of which 232 were TfL provided. 

She added: ‘This number means it leads the way with more rapid charge points than other UK cities and international equivalents such as Amsterdam, New York and Madrid.’  

The AA today said the government’s 2030 plan is ‘incredibly ambitious’.

Only three years ago, Theresa May’s government said the ban would be implemented in 2040 – two decades from now – but Boris Johnson has brought forward the target by ten years.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders says this is now an ‘immense challenge’ for car makers who have just over nine years to switch from a century of producing vehicles with combustion engines to ones with electric motors. 

It has also raised questions over how many people can afford – or want – to buy electric cars.

Pure battery-electric new cars held only a 5.5 per cent share of the new car market in the first ten months of the year. 

Electric vehicles are generally more expensive than conventionally-fuelled models, largely due to the cost of the battery.

Many drivers fear being unable to access a charging point mid-journey. 

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said setting a date is ‘the easy part’. He went on: ‘What happens in the lead up to this cliff edge? And how do we create a genuinely affordable mass market in electric cars between now and 2030?’ 

Currently, less than 1 per cent of the UK’s 33 million cars are plug-ins. 

Prices of petrol and diesel models may remain stable for the next few years as many people still use traditionally-fuelled cars even after the sale of new ones is banned, but the cost could drop in the years to come as people switch to electric.   

The Government says it is providing grants for homeowners, businesses and local authorities to install chargepoints and is also supporting the deployment of rapid chargepoints.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: ‘It has also announced a further £1.3 billion to scale up the rollout of chargepoints for electric vehicles in homes, streets and motorways across the UK, so people can more easily and conveniently charge their cars – just like charging your mobile phone today.’

The UK has a legal target to cut greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050, requiring huge cuts to emissions and any remaining pollution from sectors such as aviation needs to be ‘offset’ by measures such as planting trees.

There is also pressure to set out ambitious action to tackle the climate crisis because Britain is to host a United Nations environment summit which was delayed by the pandemic and is now taking place in Glasgow in November 2021.

The Prime Minister has a longstanding passion for green issues and has been encouraged to push the Government further in that direction by his fiancee Carrie Symonds, who works as an environmental campaigner.

Mr Johnson, who drove a 15-year-old diesel car before entering government, said: ‘Although this year has taken a very different path to the one we expected, I haven’t lost sight of our ambitious plans to level up across the country.

‘My ten-point plan will create, support and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050.

‘Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.’

The plan brings the ban on new conventional cars and vans forward by a decade, from a planned date of 2040. 

The sale of some hybrid vehicles will be allowed until 2035. 

Government sources stressed last night that motorists would still be able to drive older conventional cars after this point, although the motor industry has raised concerns about the potential impact on the secondhand vehicle market.

Nearly £500million will be spent in the next four years on the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries, helping to boost manufacturing bases, including in the Midlands and North East.

The Government will also launch a consultation on the phasing-out of new diesel HGVs to clean up freight transport, though no date has been set.

In a round of interviews this morning, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said there was a £12billion package of public investment which ‘will help to bring in three times as much in terms of private sector money’.

Mr Sharma said the money would also support the creation of 250,000 jobs in parts of the UK ‘where we want to see levelling up’ – including many in northern England and Wales.

But shadow business secretary Ed Miliband warned the funding did not ‘remotely meet the scale of what’s needed to tackle the unemployment emergency and climate emergency we are facing’.

He said only a fraction of the funding for the plan was new, adding: ‘We don’t need rebadged funding pots and reheated pledges, but an ambitious plan that meets the scale of the task we are facing and – crucially – creates jobs now.’ 

He added: ‘That’s why Labour called for the Government to bring forward £30 billion of capital investment over the next 18 months and invest it in low-carbon sectors now as part of a rapid stimulus package to support 400,000 additional jobs.’ 

Business leaders have urged the Government to build on its energy plans with a ‘robust’ industrial strategy to help firms recover from the virus crisis.

Industry groups generally welcomed the 10-point plan for a ‘green economic recovery’, although they want more details on how it will be achieved, while unions questioned how it will be financed.

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of manufacturing group Make UK, said: ‘The pandemic has highlighted how digital and green technologies are essential to make our economy and society resilient to economic and climate disruptions and we need to shift the pendulum towards growth based on the technologies of the future. This announcement is a first step on that road.’

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said it will be important to see more details when the Energy White Paper is published, adding: ‘Meeting net-zero while delivering long-term, skilled jobs, economic growth and export potential are the opportunities for the country.

‘Low-carbon technology working together – not being pitted against each other – is the right approach to take.’

RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Melanie Onn said: ‘The Prime Minister has set out an ambitious plan for a new green industrial revolution, with low-cost renewable energy at its heart.

‘The UK’s success in wind power puts us in a prime position to be a global leader across a whole suite of clean-tech industries, from electric vehicles to renewable hydrogen, where we can create new UK supply chains to export our goods and expertise around the world.’

Greenpeace UK’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom said it was a ‘landmark announcement’ and a ‘turning point on climate action’.

Ms Newsom warned that switching to electric vehicles is ‘no panacea’, but acknowledged it ‘could put the Government back on track to meeting its climate commitments’.

She urged the Government to ensure funding for charging infrastructure is used to ‘roll it out right across the UK’.

Plan vs Reality: How Boris’s 10-point ‘green industrial revolution’ push will take decades to deliver and cost £48bn

A graphic outlining the ten different areas of Boris Johnson’s 10-point environmental plan which was announced earlier today

ELECTRIC VEHICLES 

PM’S PLAN: Boris Johnson has vowed to ‘ban new sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2030’ . He announced £2.8billion in funding as part of his ten-point green plan, including £1.3billon on the rollout of electric car charging points.

REALITY: The 2030 target is viewed by the industry as ‘incredibly ambitious’ with car companies facing an uphill battle to meet demand on time – and the UK charging network needing to be increased to 20 times the size it is today.

The AA says the 2030 target is ‘incredibly ambitious’, with the three major concerns around electric cars for drivers being the initial cost of the car and availability, perceived single-charge range anxiety and charging infrastructure. 

Only three years ago, Theresa May’s government said the ban would be implemented in 2040 – two decades from now – but Boris Johnson has brought forward the target by ten years.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders says this is now an ‘immense challenge’ for car makers who have just over nine years to switch from a century of producing vehicles with combustion engines to ones with electric motors. 

It has also raised questions over how many people can afford – or want – to buy electric cars. Pure battery-electric new cars held only a 5.5 per cent share of the new car market in the first ten months of the year. 

Electric vehicles are generally more expensive than conventionally-fuelled models, largely due to the cost of the battery. Many drivers fear being unable to access a charging point mid-journey. 

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said setting a date is ‘the easy part’. He went on: ‘What happens in the lead up to this cliff edge? And how do we create a genuinely affordable mass market in electric cars between now and 2030?’

Currently, less than 1 per cent of the UK’s 33 million cars are plug-ins. Meanwhile experts have also warned the charging point network would have to grow by up to 20 times the level it is now.

More than 1,200 charging devices for public use were installed in the UK between July and September, recent Department for Transport (DfT) analysis shows. That meant 19,487 devices were available on September 30.

This is up 7 per cent from three months earlier. But Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car?, suggests the number of devices needs to be 10 or even 20 times higher than it is now to cope with the increased demand.

Prices of petrol and diesel models may remain stable for the next few years as many people still use traditionally-fuelled cars even after the sale of new ones is banned, but the cost could drop in the years to come as people switch to electric.

OFFSHORE WIND

PM’S PLAN: Installing thousands of offshore turbines to produce enough energy to power every home by 2030, based on current electricity usag. Boris Johnson is also boosting the government’s previous 30GW target to 40GW.

REALITY: The wind farm push will cost private firms £48billion in investment over the next decade and require one turbine to be built every weekday within that period – almost doubling the number currently being constructed.

Up to £48billion of investment through the private sector is said to be needed to quadruple capacity to the Prime Minister’s target of 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

The cost of offshore wind has come down dramatically over the past ten years, with government contracts down from £150 per megawatt hour to just £40. In comparison, the cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear contract was £92.50 per MW/hour, while the next new build Sizewell C is expected to be about £60 per MWh.

The UK currently has a capacity of 10GW, up from 1GW in 2010, with a further 10GW already committed to be built before 2027 following government auctions. An extra 20GW is therefore needed to get to 40GW, requiring a massive ramp-up of the supply chain to hit the target in the new environmental plan. 

The further 20GW will be allocated in a government auction planned for late 2021, but the projects wouldn’t get decisions on investments from companies involved until 2022. The workforce would then be mobilised by 2023, with the project finished by 2025 or longer – creating a four to five year time span between allocation and completion. 

The 40GW figure can only be achieved by building 2,600 turbines producing 12MW each – the equivalent of building one each weekday throughout this decade.

Given the time lag after awarding contracts, the construction target is 200 turbines per year in the early part of decade, but 300 per year by the late part of the 2020s. This will be a dramatic increase from the 100 to 200 turbines per year which have been built in recent years.

Oxford-based consultancy Aurora has carried out research on the cost implications of the Government’s drive for wind farms and believes it could reduce energy bills. 

Asked about the cost to consumers, a spokesman told MailOnline today: ‘To give a simple answer, I would say it would be roughly the same or slightly less than not doing this, and the reason for that is the cost of offshore wind has come down so dramatically to enable that.’

HYDROGEN

PM’S PLAN: Working with industry to generate five gigawatts of the low carbon fuel by 2030. Boris Johnson wants to ramp up production with the hope of heating an entire town with the low-carbon fuel by the end of the decade

REALITY: Households will need to replace 25million gas boilers over the next 20 years and the switch will also see huge amounts of refurbishments required to make homes more energy efficient, such as double or triple glazing all windows.

There is potential to replace gas boilers with hydrogen, or even a hybrid of hydrogen boilers and heat pumps, but they will need energy efficient homes to reduce the demand for hydrogen which has to be manufactured.

Tim Harwood, who is in charge of hydrogen projects at Northern Gas Networks, which owns local gas grids in north-east England, told the Financial Times that much of the possible disruption caused would depend on hydrogen-ready boilers. 

He said if the government would mandate these types of boilers in homes, ‘they are easily convertible to hydrogen when the time comes by just simply changing a few small parts and probably half an hour disruption’. 

Households will need to replace 25million gas boilers over the next 20 years – and they will have to be replaced at a rate of 600,000 a year by 2028, representing a huge challenge 

External pipeworks that delivers the hydrogen to homes and boilers will need to be changed, because hydrogen is a less dense gas – and it is often compressed and stored under high-pressure so it has sufficient energy content for processes.

The Citizens Advice charity said new meters will also need to be made to ensure people are billed correctly, and billing methodology will also need to change to reflect the energy used in a home, rather than the volume of gas delivered.

Another alternative to gas boilers is heat pumps or district heat networks which can pipe hot water in underground pipes to bring heat to homes from a central source, such as an energy from waste plant or even former mines.

Heat pumps are installed in individual houses and are powered by electricity, working a bit like a fridge in reverse to generate heat from the outside air, or sometimes the ground, to provide heating and hot water in the home.  

NUCLEAR 

PM’S PLAN: Investing in new technology to develop mini-reactors. Decision still pending on major new power stations like Sizewell C in Suffolk. The Government has pledged £525million to develop large and small-scale nuclear plants.

REALITYUnions say they are disappointed there was no specific reference to give the go-ahead to the development of Sizewell C, with the £525million pledge said to be a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared to the cost of the Suffolk site.

One of the major rows brewing following the release of the Government’s ten-point environmental plan was a lack of any guidance on whether the new nuclear power station Sizewell C will be going ahead in Suffolk.

Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, the plant’s managing director, said Sizewell C was the only large-scale nuclear project ready to begin construction, delivering the always-on low-carbon power Britain needs.

But Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said: ‘Despite heavy briefing by EDF and the nuclear industry, the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan has given no green light to Sizewell C, nor any suggestion on how it might be funded. The pledge of £525million to be split between large, small and advanced reactors is a drop in the ocean compared to the £20billion cost of Sizewell C.’

The Unite union also said it was disappointed there was no specific reference to give the go-ahead to the development of Sizewell C. Assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: ‘We welcome the commitment to nuclear as an important low-carbon element of the energy mix, but we also need meat on the bones as to how these projects are to be financed and brought forward to completion.’

Sue Ferns, deputy general secretary of the Prospect union, said: ‘The Government’s commitment to a green economy is welcome but this plan is not yet the green jobs revolution we need. All of the points in the plan are sensible, especially those on renewables, hydrogen and nuclear, but they will quickly need both detail and funding to make them into a reality.

‘In particular the commitment to new nuclear is important but we still need a clear commitment to building Sizewell C and a whole generation of new plants.’

A spokesman for the Sizewell C Consortium, a group of around 150 companies, unions and other organisations backing the project, said: ‘Sizewell C is the only large-scale nuclear project that is ready to start and it will provide jobs and apprenticeships during this parliament.

‘It will boost the economic recovery and over the lifetime of the project will create tens of thousands of jobs in the UK industrial heartlands. We urge the Government to commit to Sizewell C.’ 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

PM’S PLAN: Approving plans for a £5billion investment in buses, cycling and walking – with new cycle lanes set to benefit from a share of a £2billion fund. Plans for thousands of green buses are also included.

REALITY: Cycle lanes have proven to be hugely controversial during the Covid-19 crisis, causing major traffic delays – so this new policy will cause fury among motorists who already feel the Government is ignoring them

The Government is planning hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes as part of its new plan, which will anger critics of the schemes which have been implemented across the UK to encourage people onto two wheels during the pandemic.

Under the Department for Transport’s ‘active travel’ scheme, councils have already been granted £42million in taxpayer money to turn over vast sections of road to pedestrians and bikes, and in some cases, to close them off altogether.

Rather than improving local areas, opponents say the schemes – which are part of the £2billion plan – have worsened gridlock and pollution, caused delays for 999 services and hurt firms which rely on trade from passing traffic.

The Alliance of British Drivers has already accused the Conservatives of waging war on motorists, but the Government has cited survey evidence suggesting eight out of ten people support measures to reduce traffic in their area. 

JET ZERO

PM’S PLAN: Supporting the development of the world’s first commercial zero carbon plane. Boris Johnson added that ‘we will do the same with ships’, and pointed out that it is a century since the first nonstop transatlantic flight

REALITY: The zero carbon plane is still only a concept, with the most advanced designs produced by Airbus which are still 15 years away from entering service if everything goes to plan – and won’t even be able to travel across the Atlantic

Boris Johnson’s announcement on planes comes two months after Airbus revealed a fleet of zero emissions aircraft which are primarily powered by hydrogen fuel and are carbon neutral.

Airbus claims the three hydrogen-hybrid concepts will be the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft. The planes are called the turbofan, turboprop and the blended-wing body and are earmarked to enter service by 2035, Airbus says.

However, one major drawback of the turbofan is that it will not be able to travel across the Atlantic. The plane will have a capacity of 200 passengers and, according to Airbus, be able to travel 2,300 miles without the need for refuelling.

The turboprop is designed for short-haul trips and runs on propellers. The propeller-driven machine will have half the capacity of its bigger brother, the turbofan., with room for 100 people and a maximum journey of around 1,150 miles.

EasyJet and Airbus launched a joint research project last year to consider hybrid and electric aircraft as a way of reducing the environmental impact of aviation, but the airline industry has been devastated this year by the coronavirus pandemic.

HOMES AND BUILDINGS 

PM’S PLAN: Making homes, schools and hospitals greener and warmer, with improved insulation and heat pumps phased in to replace conventional boilers.

REALITY: The change towards heat pumps and even hydrogen boilers will require some significant improvements in insulation for homes, with double or triple glazing, draught proofing and high levels of loft and wall insulation.

Tackling climate change will spell an end to the carbon polluting gas boilers that heat the majority of UK homes, as well as oil boilers which some off-grid homes currently use, but will require some serious improvements in insulation.

They are most likely to be replaced by heat pumps or district heat networks which pipe hot water in underground pipes to bring heat to homes from a central source, such as an energy from waste plant or even former mines.

Heat pumps are installed in individual houses and are powered by electricity, working a bit like a fridge in reverse to generate heat from the outside air, or sometimes the ground, to provide heating and hot water in the home.

Air source heat pumps look like an air conditioning unit on the outside of buildings, and may need bigger radiators or underfloor heating to work best. They work more efficiently in buildings that are energy efficient and well-insulated – so there is a need for homes, including old, Victorian draughty properties, to be transformed to make them cosier.

There is also potential to replace gas boilers with hydrogen, or even a hybrid of hydrogen boilers and heat pumps, but they will need efficient homes too to reduce the demand for hydrogen which has to be manufactured.

So whatever type of house people live in and however it is heated, by the 2030s it will have to be much cosier than many are today, with double or triple glazing, draught proofing and high levels of loft and wall insulation.

This could include external wall insulation on the outside of properties, potentially changing the look of homes. Just as we have to phase out gas for heating, we will also have to stop using it to cook, with gas hobs replaced by induction hobs.

And with climate change already having an impact on life in the UK, with more intense heatwaves and an increased risk of flooding, by the 2030s homes may increasingly be fitted with measures to protect against these risks.

They could range from tinted windows and trees planted outside to provide shade in hot conditions to removable air brick covers and treated wooden floors to prevent flooding and damage from flood water in at-risk areas.

CARBON CAPTURE 

PM’S PLAN: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions. The Government says these developments will be backed by £1bn of government investment for clusters across the North, Wales and Scotland.

REALITY: The main carbon capture association admits there is an ‘incredible amount of work that is needed’, and the technology is so costly and new that multiple companies are having to work together to build the systems

One of the major problems with carbon capture systems is the technology are so expensive and modern that companies are having to work together to build them.

Among the four hubs being given part of the £200million is Net Zero Teeside, which is a joint effort by oil companies including BP, ENI, Equinor, Shell and Total, with BP leading.

The ambitious idea is to capture carbon dioxide, compress it, and pipe it into the North Sea to be injected into spent oil reservoirs, which would effectively trap it.

But there will be concerns that the number of companies having to work together on a single project could lead to clashes, potentially delaying attempts to reach Government targets.

The Carbon Capture and Storage Association, the trade body for the sector in the UK, has admitted ‘there is an incredible amount of work that is needed to enable these targets to be reached’.

NATURE

PM’S PLAN: Protecting and restoring the natural environment, including planting 75,000 acres of trees every year. The Government also wants to rewild 30,000 football pitches worth of countryside.

REALITY

Green MP Caroline Lucas has said that Boris Johnson’s environmental strategy ‘fails to rise to the gravity of this moment’.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘When you put it the context of the scale of the climate and nature emergencies face, and indeed the scale of job emergencies we face, then it’s nowhere near ambitious enough.

‘It’s not urgent enough, it’s not bold enough – it completely fails to rise to the gravity of this moment.’ She said the scale of new investment is only a ‘fraction’ of what is needed and the strategy is ‘inconsistent’ over its protection of nature.

‘There are individual aspects to welcome but, as a whole, it doesn’t add up to the kind of ambitious strategy that we need,’ she said.

INNOVATION & FINANCE

PM’S PLAN: Developing new green technology and making the City the global centre of green finance. The Government says this will be through its sovereign bond, carbon offset markets and disclosure requirements.

REALITY: The starting position has been made harder with London now lagging behind, having lost its crown as global green finance leader to Amsterdam and Zurich last month

The Government has set out its plans to make the City of London the global centre of green finance, but it faces an uphill battle after the capital lost its crown as global green finance leader.

The latest Global Green Finance Index released by the Z/Yen think tank said London had slipped behind Amsterdam and Zurich last month, having been at the helm for two years.

The index ranked 74 financial centres across the world for their public, private and non-profit investment in sustainable development projects, according to City AM.

Over the past three years, the amount raised in green bonds on the London Stock Exchange has almost tripled, from £8billion in 2017 to £22.4billion this year.

But London has fallen behind Amsterdam and Zurich for green finance depth and quality, which looks at the extent of green finance markets and the quality of products that can be traded there.

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