Plugging The Gap

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From Climate Scepticism


In late August 2022, as rising electricity and petrol prices potentially affected the calculation as to whether EVs or ICE vehicles were cheaper to run, JIT wrote ICE vs EV – the Rematch.

In the intervening five months, gas prices have fallen to about one-third of their August 2022 levels, and Brent crude oil prices have fallen by about 10-15%, while electricity prices in the UK remain high.

We can debate the factors behind high electricity prices until the cows come home (the war in Ukraine?

High gas prices?

Renewable subsidies and disruption of the National Grid?), but electric vehicles are looking to be less of an attractive proposition all the time. And, as JIT pointed out, this is despite the huge taxes and duties borne by ICE vehicle users, taxes and duties that EV owners by and large avoid.

Reality is starting to hit Councils, which have been very keen on pushing the net zero agenda, regardless of depleted budgets and cuts to other services. Today, the BBC website brings us news that Highland Council in Scotland is proposing “more than doubling the price of using most of its electric vehicle charging points due to increased costs of running its network.” This is because “Electricity supply costs were about £50,000 in 2020 and in excess of £130,000 now.”

Mind you, although cost is very important, probably the main worry for many EV users remains range anxiety, and in a county like Highland, that anxiety must be very real indeed. Highland “council area covers…25,657 square kilometres (9,906 square miles) – which is 11.4% of the land area of Great Britain, 32.9% of the land area of Scotland and an area 20% larger than Wales” (thank you Wikipedia).

Returning to the BBC article, we learn that there are just 85 EV chargers in the entire council area, or less than one per 100 square miles. Worse than that, only “49 are classed as journey chargers offering 43kW and above and 36 are destination chargers of 22kW and below.

We learn further that:

The cost at its fastest charging points could increase from 30p per kWh to 70p.

Highland said its electricity supply costs had risen 160% since 2020 due to higher energy costs and the installation of more chargers.

It has proposed raising the tariff of its slower destination charging from 20p per kWh to 35p.

Despite these huge proposed price hikes, the Council is reported as believing that motorists won’t be deterred from using the charge points or from switching to EVs, because “it would still be cheaper to use a Highland Council EV charger than a domestic charge point.” If true, this reflects a significant hike in electricity costs in just five months, since in late August 2022 JIT provided us with figures hot off the press (or hot off Ofgem’s website) to the effect that the price cap rate was then 28p per kWh.

In any event, finding a charger might be the first challenge for motorists. I visited the section of the Highland Council website devoted to electric vehicle infrastructure to discover where the charging points are, but my search was unsuccessful. I was told:

ChargePlace Scotland is Scotland’s national EV charging network. It is owned and developed by the Scottish Government and funded in partnership through a public grant from Local Authorities and other organisations.

Just below this information is a button which invites users to “view the map of charge points”. I clicked on it, only to be met with a 404 error message telling me “Sorry, the page you are looking for could not be found” (and so the charging points can’t be found either).

That said, even if you can find one, you have to keep your fingers crossed that it actually works. Less than three months ago the BBC ran with a story headed “One in four Scottish EV charging points faulty”.

Life for a Scottish EV user without their own charging point was summed up for us in a few short paragraphs:

Laura, who campaigns as Less Waste Laura, lives in a second floor flat in Dundee, with no driveway, so she is entirely reliant on public charging.

„There’s a lot that are broken,“ she said.

„And so it’s a bit more of a faff, and a bit more of an inconvenience, and I find it really difficult to charge easily. And it’s become a bit more of a disruptor for my life.“

„At the beginning, when I was driving along the street, you would see another electric car and think, ‚oh hello, how exciting, another electric car.‘ And now I’m like, ‚oh my goodness, they’re my competitor‘.“

At least Laura lives in Dundee, though I don’t know what she pays to charge her electric vehicle (assuming she is able to do so). Today’s BBC article concludes sombrely by telling us that Western Isles and East Lothian Councils are also proposing similar tariff increases.

I’ll stick with my diesel car for now, thanks.