Charging your EV

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EV charging points. Where and how many?

A recent article on electric vehicles (EV) produced a number of comments from our readers, and with the government’s determination to phase out the production of all new petrol or diesel powered vehicles within eight years, it seems an appropriate time to look at how we are going to keep our new green forms of transport on the road. How, for example, are we to keep our batteries charged up?

The answer is simple – we just plug them in, wait a bit, and then our EV is ready for another 100 – 300 miles. The problem however is that, like so many things in life, what seems simple at first glance turns out to be rather more complicated in reality, and three basic questions need to be answered:

  • where are they going to be charged?
  • how long is charging going to take?
  • what is the cost going to be?

In answer to the first question, one reader has already commented, correctly, that all new homes will now have to be fitted with a charging point. All well and good, this might indeed be a solution in new towns, but in a town such as Rye where the vast majority of homes are over 100 years old and new homes are, relatively speaking, a very small minority, few are likely to be fitted with this facility. In addition, to trail a cable from home to car requires the car to be in close proximity to the building and for its path not to be crossed by any form of public access. That would seem to limit home charging to those that have some form of driveway or private parking area.

In the main part of the town there are few private parking areas, so residents here will have to rely on a public charging facility. The same will apply to many properties on the periphery as well (think, South Undercliff, Fishmarket Road, Udimore Road, parts of Tilling Green and so on).

As with petrol, therefore, the majority of the town’s vehicle owners are going to rely on a charging point away from their homes. So let’s have a look at numbers.

The population of Rye is, very approximately, around 5,000. This would suggest probably around 2,000 homes and let’s assume just 60% of these have a car and of that 60% just 20% have access to private parking. 960 vehicles will need to be charged at a publicly accessible charger, on average, probably every two to three days. This operation can take between one and three hours with the cost varying between 16p and 42p per Kwh depending on the type of charger used and the supplier.

Currently, Rye has no public chargers (although four are being installed at the Mermaid and others are available at the Galivant in Camber, Flackley Ash Hotel in Peasmarsh and the Bell at Iden, all these will presumably be for their own customers). The nearest public charging facilities would seem to be in Hastings.

Rother District Council (RDC) are currently considering where to put charging points in car parks they own across the district. A report currently being considered by RDC’s climate change steering group suggests that at least one charging point should be installed in at least one car park in Rye. Responsibility for on-street chargers lies with East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and we have approached them to ask about their plans, but have as yet to receive any reply. This could mean that they are lazy or too busy to deal with so insignificant a problem (as they see it) or are working on it, or even that they don’t know and have no plans. Rye’s own county councillor, should he feel like answering the email he was sent some days ago, may be able to throw further light on this.

However, in a worst case scenario, one public charging point operating 24 hours a day (but who is going to want to get up a 3am to go and charge their car?) and providing a rapid (1 hour) charge, charging 24 cars per day maximum, will take 40 days at best to charge all 960 cars.

Quite obviously this is an extreme figure, as charging will often take place during the course of a journey and not be required locally, although summer visitors, who will doubtless occupy the charging point for a great deal of the time, also have to be considered.

The plans of other car park owners (the cattle market, Network Rail / Southern, Environment Agency etc) are not yet known. One problem all car parks face is the cost of installation and suitability of the car park – for example, is there a convenient and adequate electricity supply? And is there a reliable mobile phone signal as many chargers currently require an app on a smartphone in order to use them? Also, who pays for the charger installation? The cost is not inconsiderable and to provide as many as would be realistically needed would be well beyond the financial capability of most local councils.

One answer (which RDC are considering) is for the supplier to pay and be reimbursed by the vehicle owner through the cost of charging. The council would receive only a small proportion of the charging revenue (if any) and would lose the revenue from the parking space occupied by the charger. Much the same applies to on-street parking and the cost, whether met in whole or part by either ESCC or the providers of the equipment will be huge.

There are many problems connected with this ‘green revolution’ which have to be solved in the next few years and the number of electric vehicles on the road is already increasing at a significant rate. One does have to wonder whether government have really thought this through.

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .

7 COMMENTS

  1. You raise important issues, John, issues that are all plain to anyone who has seriously and analytically thought about the situation. So how is it that they seem to have escaped our policy makers? Or maybe the problem lies with those tasked with providing the necessary infrastructure?
    As an engineer I actually love the concept of EVs – could easily be an enthusiast in fact – but isn’t the charging problem just the tip of the iceberg? There are SO many other problems – I fear that we’ve been played by the vehicle manufacturers and their very astute concern for their own interests.

  2. Just getting one charging point (which typically has two charging sockets) would be a start. Gibbet Marsh (as an underused car park) would be the perfect place. It’s not about providing places for residents to charge at this point – it’s about providing somewhere that visitors can charge. I was up in Yorkshire recently and needed to charge my car multiple times – so I went to the villages where I could charge and spent money there while I was waiting. There obviously needs to be a longer term plan, but just a single charge point would make Rye a much more attractive destination to EV owners.

  3. An interesting article on some of the challenges faced in a small crowded town such as Rye. Trials are taking place in London with different types of chargers which work on streets with pavements (EG Connected Kerb and others) but this isn’t going to solve all the problems mentioned. Shell, by the way, has just opened an EV fast charging hub with 9 chargers on the Fulham Road which will charge most cars in 10 minutes – and note that they removed a petrol station to do this. I believe plans were mooted at some point for a second petrol station in Rye at the Freda Gardham school – surely it would be better to look ahead and have an EV charging hub, maybe with a cafe/shop showcasing local produce?

  4. Also another point, many of the charging points mentioned (EG at Flackley Ash in Peasmarsh and the Bell at Iden) are for Tesla owners only, so there’s actually even fewer than that.

  5. Let us be realistic. If a visitor parks their EV on one of the few charging points available, they are not going to sit with the vehicle watching the state of charge as it happens. And I suggest that a very large proportion of visitors with EVs will need to recharge their vehicles. They are going to park and then do what they came to do – visit our town. That means, in practice, that the charge point will only be available to one, maybe two or at best three, users a day.

    This simply isn’t going to work unless charge times can be reduced drastically – to something near filling station times – or exchangeable battery packs can be developed so that refuelling is simply a question of swapping packs. Neither of these is at an advanced stage of development as I understand it. I agree with the original comment – this really hasn’t been thought through.

    • Depends on the company running the charger. A lot charge a fee for ‘sitting’ on a charger once your charge is complete.

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