Plans to equip every new or refurbished home in Europe with its own electric vehicle charging point have been announced in a draft European Union (EU) directive. But as Europe surges ahead with green transport solutions, the UK is falling behind because commitments to the number of ultra-low-emission vehicles on its roads are well below target.
The EU directive, designed to boost the electric car market, is due to come into force before the end of the year. It also states that all new developments in the EU zone will require at least 10% of their parking spaces to have charge points by 2023.
For many people, the perceived problems of short range, time spent recharging, and limited charge points for electric cars are a big turn off. But the technology is constantly improving. Renault has just released an electric car with a 250 mile range, which will go a long way in allaying people’s fears. The increase in charge points is another turn on. Guillaume Berthier, Renault’s sales director for electric cars, said in The Guardian:
This kind of market stimulus is not just positive, it is mandatory if we want to see a massive rollout of electric vehicles in the near future…The question of how you recharge your car when you live in an apartment within a city is a very important one.
The move to electric transport provides both local short term and global long term benefits in reducing pollution. It can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by transport if the electric used for charging batteries is from renewable sources. So in the long term globally it could mitigate climate change by reducing man made CO2 output.
In the short term it can reduce the amount of pollutants (particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone) produced by combustion engines, which can become particularly concentrated in urban areas. Diesel exhaust is particularly strong in these pollutants and can cause a wide range of respiratory and other diseases.
A report released earlier this year estimated that 40,000 deaths a year are caused by outdoor air pollution in the UK. Air pollution is a matter of life and death, and the benefits to be gained by reducing it are enormous.
UK failing to meet its pledges
The UK government does not appear to be taking the threat of air pollution seriously. The government’s advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, set a target of 9% for the proportion of the UK’s car fleet to be ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) by 2020. Current predictions made by the Department for Transport (DfT) show they will fall halfway short of the target.
The environmental audit committee heavily criticised the UK government for failing to increase the infrastructure and incentives needed to improve electric car use, and called for further support. Mike Hawes, a representative of the UK car industry, welcomed the committee’s findings, saying:
We welcome the committee’s call for policy and fiscal certainty to drive the uptake of ULEVs, which will help the government meet its air quality and climate targets… the committee’s call for support across government, from the Treasury to DfT, to help stimulate market demand, is well made.
Old batteries re-used
Renault acknowledges that increased electric car use could cause electricity supply problems, but old batteries no longer of use in electric cars could provide part of the solution. Old electric vehicle batteries that are no longer strong enough to power the vehicle can still store a significant amount of charge.
Renault is partnering with a company called Connected Energy to give these batteries a second life. The batteries are combined together into a pack which can be charged from dedicated renewable energy sources or using off-peak electricity. The energy stored can then be used for rapid electrical vehicle charging or sold back to the grid at peak times.
A 2 megawatt power station opened by BMW in Germany gives a second life to 2,600 electric vehicle batteries. The facility can store excess energy when needed, and make it available in seconds when required.
The consequences of failing to tackle air pollution will be deadly. The European Union is showing the UK a clean pair of heels in its pursuit of greener transport solutions. The UK government needs to act fast to avoid Britain once again becoming known as “the dirty man of Europe”.
– Support the work of new media organisations here. Please add more that you like in the comments.
Featured image via Pixabay
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?