Housebuilders can’t take a rear view when it comes to electric vehicle (EV) charge points; thanks to new legislation, the future is electric, and housebuilders will be responsible for driving the change.
The government, determined to snuff out emissions by 2050, plans to introduce legislation that dictates all new homes in England must be built with charge points for EVs. Housebuilders will provide the vital spark in the initiative; however, as the National Grid frets about how homes will cope with demand, is the scheme destined to be a car crash?
“It is achievable in the long-term, at least the hardwiring is; the will of the developers to do it is a different matter,” said Jérôme Faissat, Director of Andersen EV. “The main constraint is the power. The charger will be the most powerful device in the home. Adding more power means the developer has to spend more money. It is achievable, but there will be extra costs.”
On the contrary, many housebuilders have already presented new developments complete with EV charging points and there is a clear momentum to go electric. The challenge will be upping the energy when it becomes a legal requirement for each home with a designated parking space. Thankfully, technology is accelerating ahead to provide solutions.
“This isn’t going to be as onerous as housebuilders may fear it’s going to be,” said James Stevens, Vice President of Residential Sales at Pod Point. “The key for housebuilders is to educate themselves in this area to avoid common pitfalls and to ensure they work with a good EV charging partner.
“Developers often anticipate problems with availability and power, but the reality is that the technology is moving so quickly that these issues are often overstated. The need to upgrade infrastructure and sub stations can now largely be mitigated by EV charging providers’ software and hardware platforms.”
According to Miles Freeman, Head of Marketing for EO Charging, housebuilders should consider a selective approach. “Housebuilders really need to evaluate the type of infrastructure they put into newbuilds,” he said. “Putting a charge point into every home, regardless of whether or not its owner drives an EV, isn’t necessarily something we agree is best. What the government is doing is putting in a number of redundant charge points.
“So, it’s achievable if housebuilders take a pragmatic approach towards the legislation and look for solutions that allow homeowners to install a charging point when they’re ready to do so.”
Freeman advocates installing ready-to-roll units that come with all the wiring in place. Then, as soon as the homeowner is ready to buy an EV vehicle, they can simply buy their own charger for a super easy installation.
Homes which help residents soften their carbon footprint are in high demand, according to new research from Jackson-Stops. The study found that over a fifth (22%) of the UK public want EV charging points in their next home. In fact, the respondents prized charging points above good transport links.
Housebuilders are all too aware that they need to cater for a new, carbon-conscious generation. Miles said: “Public opinion over the last few years has changed dramatically. A lot of future homeowners see it as a key part of their decision-making process. A lot of the general public are more energy conscious and are looking for new builds that help them remove their dependency on the grid.
“The vehicle registrations for EVs have absolutely skyrocketed in recent months. Housebuilders that don’t recognise this potential are missing a beat.”
Although many housebuilders recognise the potential, arguably they don’t act on it fast enough. According to Stevens, housebuilders can’t stay in second gear as the market evolves. “In my experience, most developers are onboard with EVs, but want to do it in line with market growth, but apartment blocks are obviously long-term structures and they will be far less desirable without EV charging points,” he said. “At the moment, EV charging tends to be an afterthought on the part of developers, which can make it expensive.
“If developers instead start thinking about it earlier, even at land acquisition stage they will be aware of how much power is required and the potential costs. By liaising with their charge point provider throughout the build process, they can ensure that EV charging is factored in, just as for other essential services like drainage systems and water.”
How to manage a site’s energy levels are also a key consideration. The National Grid has already warned that it could buckle under the strain of increased demand, and that using items which cause a surge in electricity such as kettles and ovens while charging a car could easily trip a main fuse.
So, will Brits face an unhappy choice between a fully charged car or a cup of tea? It seems to come down to a balance of power. “All developers must think about the total load required to have a charger at each home on their development,” Freeman warned. “Developers need to implement load management across the whole site, and not think of each charger as a self-contained unit.”
Smart charging capabilities should help. The government is also mulling making ‘smart’ technology mandatory at all charge points. This means an electric vehicle would charge at different times of the day in response to signals, such as electricity tariff information.
“Over the last few years the market has completely transformed,” said Freeman. “It’s likely that, over the next five years, we could see the introduction of wireless charging. At the moment, the universal socket in all chargers will stay the same. However, there is technology coming out under the umbrella of smart charging that can be updated remotely.”
It seems that, rather than complying with new regulations, by preparing for EV charge points housebuilders are simply clearing the road for an inevitability. Sales of diesel cars could be banned from 2040, while sales of EVs were up 22% last year.
“At the moment electric vehicles are in their infancy, but we are moving towards a society where electric vehicles will be commonplace,” said Faissat. “Yes, it is a sea change and it potentially has added costs, but we can’t be complacent. Housebuilders need to embrace it.”