by Matthew Lumsden (Future Transport Systems)

Future Transport Systems in the UK is leading the development of a practical tool kit designed to help organisations and project managers develop and implement EV infrastructure pilot projects and subsequently lead on to sustainably operating schemes.

The first version of the tool kit is being developed for the UK and variants are now being developed for use in Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

The UK version is drawing upon experienced gained in delivering the Government’s Plugged in Places programme and aims to help project developers build on this experience and avoid the mistakes and delays associated with having to learn from first principles.

The tool kit includes a practical work book including development guidelines supported with generic project plans, risk registers and roles and responsibilities charts that can be adapted to a broad range of projects.

In developing the tool kit Future Transport Systems has liaised with several of the UK’s successful Plugged in Places projects to develop an understanding of the challenges that have been encountered and the lessons learned.  Experience gained from regions not involved in the Plugged in Places programme and who are developing alternative approaches to project development has also been incorporated into the document.

Key issues of the tool kit

Key issues considered within the document are how to plan for a realistic EV infrastructure, how to deliver a project, what technical issues need to be considered, how can interoperability be fostered and how to plan for sustainable operation.

Over the course of the next few months Future Transport Systems will be trialling the tool kit on several projects across the UK and would welcome expressions of interest from any organisations who might be interested in being part of the trial.

Once the non-UK versions of the tool kit have been developed and validated the final phase of the project will be to review some of the differences between EV infrastructure development across North West Europe and summarise key learning points.

Challenges for infrastructure developers

Research has identified a number of issues that promise to create challenges for infrastructure developers:

•    Interoperability is becoming an increasing challenge.  The tendering processes that have initiated many pilot projects have often resulted in projects developing and implementing their own variations of operating procedures and systems.  One consequence of this is the groups of projects such as the Plugged in Places projects in the UK are working through a difficult process to enable technical and commercial interoperability.  However an additional problem now comes from the new phase of smaller projects that are beginning and for whom interoperability is now even more of a challenge.  There is potential for a huge mess to be created which ultimately will be most unsatisfactory for EV drivers as well as infrastructure operators.

•    Increasingly rapid charging infrastructure is being identified as a key enabler for EV users.  It significantly underpins the viability of commercial fleet operators and e-car clubs for example.  Given the early emphasis placed on 3 and 7KW charging infrastructure it will be interesting to see how these fit alongside rapid chargers and how their use and business models develop.

A positive observation from the research is the level of commonality that exists between projects and regions.  This has been identified through the development of the tool kit and therefore offers an opportunity for the toolkit to assist in engendering integration and interoperability.