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Accelerating commercial EV adoption, three areas that need to change….

The Green Jam fourth birthday arrives at a frustrating time in the transition of commercial fleets to zero emission alternatives. Our community of like-minded clients has grown well beyond our expectations since we started, and these organisations have led the way with a determination and pragmatism to significantly reduce their environmental impact, which is to be admired and followed. It is a source of great pride for us to play a part in their achievements to date.


However, the pace of change across many sectors to lower emissions generally is painfully slow. We see many organisations paying lip service to the importance of committing to actions that underpin a credible emissions reduction plan. Switching the electricity supply to a renewable contract should be the starting point, not the end of the plan!


Transport emissions will often account for a large part of a scope 1 or scope 3 emissions inventory and here we do recognise some of the economic and technological barriers currently in place which prevent those who are committed to making a difference from doing so. Whilst the debate rages on regarding the pathway for transport decarbonation and the prevailing technology, at Green Jam we believe the majority of fleet use cases in the UK will be met by battery electric. We have the foundation infrastructure already in place in the UK to move power around the country, the energy is cheap relative to other sources, and there is an ever-improving performance from a maturing product – the electric vehicle.  


However, we also believe there are three key areas which require intervention, both in changes to government policies and central funding, to support the next ten years. Closing the funding gap through increased incentives, improving grid constraints around industry clusters, and investing to bring new battery chemistries to market quicker, would create the conditions for the scale and speed of change needed in the UK.


Cost of electric commercial vehicles: There is no denying that the capital outlay for electric commercial vehicles is eye-watering compared to diesel counterparts and unaffordable for those operating in low margin sectors. Whilst the total cost of ownership models are becoming more favourable for those operators that can fully utilise the model ranges on offer, government funding to reduce or remove the cost premium is essential.


Local grid capacity: Our work over the last three years has demonstrated time and again the cost and timescale challenges of obtaining connections that can meet the future electricity demands of a business. Understanding UK operating centres that are predicted to be constrained and supporting the building of network capacity ahead of use, would remove the need for a strategic ‘power grab’ from forward-thinking developers.    


Supporting the UK battery industry: There are several battery chemistries in development which will improve battery performance in different applications, particularly the holy grail of solid-state batteries. The UK has been at the forefront of research in this area, but significant investment and incentives are still required from the government to scale-up and manufacture across multiple areas in the country. A step-change in battery performance, along with the cost reductions that come from manufacturing at scale, are needed to broaden the commercial fleet use cases.

 

Many parts of the UK still have air quality levels which we should all find unacceptable. This is a crucial time to move the dial in improving these levels, with us all playing our part, however small, to combat the climate crisis.  There are many of us working hard in the UK to do what we can to reduce emissions, in whatever way we can, to protect the future health of humans, animals and plants. To accelerate this change though, we need a government with policies and funding aligned and committed to this objective.     

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