EVHS funding: once it’s gone, it’s gone

Next year, the government is to target its drive for take-up of home EV chargepoints at renters and leaseholders. The newly positioned EVHS scheme will fund 75% of installation costs, so property managers should plan ahead for charging infrastructure in their blocks while the money is available, says Jamie Willsdon.

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK are really taking off now. Despite the pandemic, last year saw the biggest annual increase in number of registrations, with more than 175,000 electric vehicles registered. That represents 66% growth on 2019 (source: DfT). But EVs still only represent 13.3% share of the market, with the biggest obstacle after cost (which is coming down all the time) being chargepoint availability.

This too is changing, with construction of EV charging hubs underway and chargepoints popping up all over the place in public spaces. But the real revolution is going to be in home charging, so that we can simply ‘plug-and-play’ in the same way that we all charge our mobile phones overnight. 

To help promote take-up of widespread home charging, the government launched its Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme in 2019. Now, the chargepoints grants team at the Office for Zero Emissions (OZEV) has announced that from April 2022, the EVHS will no longer be available for homeowners but instead will be targeted at people living in rented and leasehold accommodation. The fund will cover up to 75% of the cost of retrofitting charge-points in blocks of flats but is not available for new builds. Building owners, their agents and individual flat owners and renters will be able to apply for funding and will be able to make multiple applications. There will be a cap on the amount and numbers of funding applications that can be made but this is still being worked out and a new digital platform will be launched to enable people to access the revised EVHS in the autumn.

The issues around chargepoint installation in blocks of flats are well-documented and I’ve written several previous articles on the subject. If you own your own parking space close to a power source it is relatively easy to install a charger at a block of flats. But this scenario is by no means commonplace. For most people living in a residential block with a shared car park the potential problems include:

  • Restrictive lease terms
  • Power loading issues
  • Access to existing power infrastructure.

But despite these potential pitfalls, property managers increasingly understand that this is the way the market is moving, and they are keen to overcome the obstacles. At Future Fuel we are getting more enquiries now than ever before.   So it’s no surprise that a presentation on EV chargepoints in flats delivered by property lawyer Cassandra Zanelli and Darren Handley, head of Infrastructure Grants at OVEZ proved to be one of the most highly-rated sessions at the IRPM online seminar held in May.

Darren suggested that key questions to ask are these:

  • What are the short- and longer-term needs of your portfolio, ie how many chargers do you need, when and where?
  • Who will pay the additional 25%of installation cost that is not covered by the EVHS?
  • Who pays for the electricity?

We are now finding that from initial enquiry through to sign-off is taking up to 24 months in some cases. So our advice to property managers is to get the ball rolling now; get designs, proposals and scopes in place agreed and poised ready to present to the EVHS for approval. Once the fund opens, we expect them to be inundated and like the building safety fund, the early applicants have been most successful in securing funds – late arrivals not so lucky.

There are many points to consider before finding the perfect solution for the block and its residences, as there are so many variables to take into account: location, demographics, geography, taxes, congestion charges etc.  In our experience, what often starts as a single person enquiry, frequently grows into a far bigger project – and rightly so, because then the block is future-proofed.

Experts agree that we are now at a tipping point for EV take-up in this country. The comparisons with broadband are striking. Twenty years ago, many people went to an Internet cafe or library to get online. Now fast, reliable broadband at home is a must – and top of the list of must-have amenities for homebuyers. In a few years’ time, EV charging will be the same and having a home chargepoint will be an expectation, not a luxury.

 

We predict that within the decade, apartment block car parks will be more than half full of electric vehicles. Charging infrastructure is a building investment issue landlords and resident groups will inevitably face and we’re already reaching out to block managers across the country, developing a clearer picture of which buildings are likely to adopt EVs the fastest, based on their socio-economic and geographic profile

There is now plenty of evidence of apartment blocks that are future-proofed for EV charging becoming more desirable, positively impacting the value of the property. Buyers will increasingly take this into consideration as the UK continues its progress towards a zero-emissions future.

Jamie Willsdon

Future Fuel Solutions
Group Director of Future Group

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