homenews and insights ev infrastructure blog

Any way the wind blows, SSE Energy Solutions is committed to EV infrastructure rollout

By Kevin Welstead
14 December 2023

Sector Director, EV

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While there is clearly political debate around how best to bring consumers on the EV journey, importantly, there is still a strong consensus around the need to get to a net zero destination with its associated energy security benefits. At SSE we will press on with our ambitious plans for high powered EV infrastructure.

When I drive an EV, it is all too apparent, particularly on longer journeys, that the location and frequency of charging hubs is simply not where it needs to be yet.

A quarter of the UK’s total carbon emissions come from transport. SSE remains committed to the targets we have set to meet this challenge. We are on a mission to build and operate 300 EV Ultra Rapid Hubs by 2027 and over 500 by 2030. We are building partnerships and investing in technology that will streamline the future delivery of EV infrastructure, but crucially we are already unveiling new hubs throughout the UK that are bringing convenient EV charging to drivers. We will have over 40 open by the summer of 2024 with many more planned.

Recently in Dundee, a city well known for its commitment to EVs, we broke ground on Scotland’s most powerful charging hub to date. 8 of the 24 bays feature 360-kilowatt charge units, capable of delivering up to 60 miles of range in just three minutes. Reliable and powerful electrified transport is at our fingertips, and we are driven to deliver it.

In August of this year, we cut the ribbon on an EV hub at Gapton Hall Retail Park thanks to our partnership with M7 Real Estate. We are continuing our two-year programme to expand EV charging across a potential 50 sites managed by M7. The Gapton Hall hub is just the beginning.

At every workshop I participate in, every panel I join, every conference I attend, there is an overwhelming consensus on the primary challenge to EV rollout: planning and the connections process.

In a perfect world, our engineers and project managers would choose the optimal site for an EV hub that caters to a community’s drivers and businesses, makes efficient use of traffic patterns, and accounts for the distance from other hubs in the network and the region. Current planning practices make this very challenging.

The EV Team has experienced a mixed performance around planning and it continues to be a reason we can’t easily forecast delivery. As such we plan for it to be longer than expected and if an approval comes in sooner than expected it is a bonus.

So we’ve had to adapt our EV infrastructure development approach to continue to roll out our ultra-rapid hubs. One option has been to pursue sites that have ‘permitted development’ status. These are sites that don’t require additional planning permission for an EV hub, for example an out-of-town retail park.

As you can see, building a future transport system with EV at its heart will require some reform of our planning system to ensure that projects can be advanced with speed, and we will work positively with national and local governments to make this happen.

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