Investing in Charging Infrastructure in the North West: A Lucrative Opportunity to Support the UK’s Net-Zero Goal

The demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK is growing rapidly as the 2050 net-zero emissions target approaches. Currently, there are around 850,000 fully electric cars and 510,000 plug-in hybrid models on the road. Major cities in the north of England, like Manchester, demonstrate high demand for EVs, accounting for a significant share of new vehicle registrations.

However, the installation of charging points needs to be accelerated to provide consumers with the confidence to switch to electric. Without further investment in charging infrastructure, particularly in the North West of England where the current infrastructure is the lowest in the UK, the goal of achieving net-zero emissions will become increasingly challenging.

Currently, the UK has approximately 48,450 EV charging devices across 29,062 locations. However, one-third of these charging points are concentrated in London, with significantly fewer charging points available in other regions. The North West of England has the lowest charging infrastructure, with only 31 devices per 100,000 vehicles.

As the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars approaches, there is a pressing need to increase the ratio of charging points to vehicles. However, minimal investment has been made regionally to support this. This lack of infrastructure is causing growing concerns among drivers who fear they will struggle to regularly charge their vehicles.

Unlike in cities where off-road parking is common, many people in cities like Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds lack accessibility for home charging. These barriers are hindering the adoption of EVs in private households across the north of England.

To address these challenges, greater investment is essential to support EV adoption. Avison Young, a global real estate firm, has collaborated with Be.EV to facilitate the search for suitable charging sites. Be.EV, which operates a large charging network in Greater Manchester, has secured funding to expand its public charging point network by over 600% by 2024.

Plans for additional charging solutions are also being implemented, including the installation of charging points into roadside lampposts. However, there are concerns about longer charging times and safety issues associated with loose charging wires across roads.

To address these concerns, it is crucial to establish strategic locations for community charging hubs in the North West. Landowners with vacant sites up to two acres in size should consider converting their land into charging hubs. These sites should be highly prominent, visible from main roads, accessible 24/7, and have enough space for an adequate number of charging points. The availability of power in the area should also be considered.

Investing in charging infrastructure is a profitable opportunity for landowners while supporting regional efforts to meet the UK’s net-zero target. EVs are the future, and the infrastructure that charges them is essential. By capitalizing on this opportunity, landowners in the North West can play a key role in the region’s transition to an EV future.

– By Michael Whear, principal and managing director at global real estate firm Avison Young.