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Renewables and EV charging make the perfect pair

An electric vehicle is only as clean as the source of its energy. Hiten Sonpal, director at NatWest’s Future Mobility Group, looks at why now might be the time to invest in charging points.

Last updated: 15 Mar 2021 4 min read

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In July 2018, the government published the Road to Zero strategy, illustrating its aim to put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacture of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). Effectively, this means all new cars and vans will be zero emission by 2040, and there will be few, if any, new internal combustion engine (ICE) models. To support these goals, the government wants to develop one of the leading electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure networks in the world. 

EVs are no longer an underperforming green novelty. With the choice increasing, prices falling, performance improving and charging becoming more widespread across the UK, consumers and businesses now view them as a viable solution. Going electric is about driving greener, with a lower carbon footprint, improved air quality and cost savings. 

It’s no surprise that EVs are growing in popularity as a credible alternative to ICE vehicles. EVs require their batteries to be re-fuelled in the manner that traditional ICE models require petrol and diesel. While charging has traditionally been grid-based, the green credentials of EVs depend on the source of the electricity that feeds them. As a means of ensuring that an EV is powered with clean electricity, there are solar-powered chargers now on the market: they provide clean electricity to electric powered cars that are themselves pollution free, resulting in positive environmental effects. 

Power of the sun 

There are a number of options to explore when seeking to charge your EV at home, at work or in a public place, but why pay for this if you can harness the power of the sun yourself?

By charging your electric vehicle from your own solar photovoltaic (PV) system, be that at home or at your business premises, you can save even more money on your driving costs by using your own self-generated 100% green solar energy. This combination makes solar PV for your home or business the ideal solution to accompany your electric vehicle and charge point. 

To support the transition of charge points across the UK, in 2019 the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) set up a fund for home and workplace charging where grants are available for charge points installed. There is an eligibility criteria to qualify for the grant, however: in summary, each household can claim £350 towards their charge point and businesses can claim £350 per charge point up to a maximum of 40 sockets – a total of £14,000 in grants for businesses to adopt EV charging at their premises. 

Plug-in car grant

The plug-in grant has been through a variety of changes since its initial launch in 2011. By providing a discount on the price of an EV, it has slowly helped motorists reduce emissions and take their first step into the future of greener driving.

As more and more EVs have come to market in the nine years since its launch, the grant has evolved, whether that’s adjustments to the amount available or many plug-in hybrids no longer being eligible.

The grant was due to end in 2020, but the government has announced its continuation until 2022/23. However, it is now at a reduced rate of up to £3,000, and in order to receive the maximum you need to have an EV with a purchase price under £50,000, emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emissions range of more than 70 miles.

Financing options

To further add to the above grants, there are several options for other types of finance for charging projects. These are probably not as well promoted due to the fact that EVs and charging infrastructure are not yet mainstream. Below are some examples for business customers:

  • business funding
  • cash reserves/overdraft
  • business loan
  • asset finance
  • fully-funded opex model supported by several charge point operators

In some cases EVs incur a high upfront cost compared with traditional ICE models, but it is important to take into consideration the total cost of ownership (TCO), a key part of which is the price of fuel.

As companies are looking to lower costs in these uncertain times, EVs offer a way of boosting the bottom line sustainably – especially when paired with the right charging solution. With incentives in place to support individuals and businesses looking to make the switch, this is a perfect time to explore EVs and charging, and to weigh up the transformational benefits that are available. 

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Future Mobility, Manufacturing and Automotive