An expert in green technologies law says Government plans to drive massive growth in the use of electric cars must be supported by an equally ambitious upgrade of the national infrastructure.
Ifzal Akhtar – who published a White Paper on the challenges of moving to electric cars earlier this year and advises local authorities on the issues – says both the UK’s energy network and national planning structure must be brought into the 21st century.
He was speaking after the Government announced plans to ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 in a move to help the country meets its legal commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Ifzal, a lawyer with award-winning law firm FBC Manby Bowdler in Redditch, said an integrated, strategic approach was needed to ensure the country could meet the pace of change being demanded.
“At the moment, the National Grid simply would not cope with a huge increase in the use of electric cars,” he said.
“The manufacturers have already indicated they will struggle to meet demand for the vehicles and the infrastructure around charging points is sporadic and lacks national cohesion.
“Particular attention needs to be paid to how commercial vehicles will fare under the drive for us all to go electric. While private car owners will probably charge their cars from home or at work, the commercial sector will need to be considered carefully.
“Lorries, taxis and coaches will be reliant on a network of high-speed chargers along the motorway network. This network will need to be invested in heavily as will the National Grid which is delivering the power.
“There are exciting opportunities in this sector – for example a renewable windfarm could generate the electricity and then supply green transport - but it needs carefully thinking through and a strategic approach.
“And further grants need to be available for R&D to encourage new entrants to help make the UK the world’s leader in green technology. Investment in university programmes and colleges should happen in order to help grow green cottage businesses.
“For example, I predict a growing demand for affordable “retro-modding” of classic cars through upgrading their drive trains to electric power. At the moment the conversion costs are prohibitive due to the limited know how that is available, but with investment in research we can lead the world in this area.”