UK awards £40 million in funding to boost EVs

The U.K. Department of Transport has announced the winners of the Go Ultra Low City Scheme, which aims to encourage the use of low emissions vehicles. The main winners are the cities of London, Bristol, Nottingham and Milton Keynes, which are developing projects that encourage drivers to switch to plug-in electric cars. A smaller part of the funding will go towards projects in other U.K. regions, mainly in the north-east of the country.

London received £13 million to create “Neighbourhoods of the Future,” which prioritizes ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). Projects include streets that utilize car-charging street lighting and low emission zones offering parking and traffic priority to owners of plug-in vehicles.

Bristol will get £7 million to offer residents free residential parking for ULEVs, access to three carpool lanes in the city, more than 80 rapid and fast chargers across the city and a scheme encouraging people to lease a plug-in car for up to four weeks.

Nottingham and nearby city Derby were awarded £6 million to install 230 charge points, offer ULEV owners discount parking and access to more than 13 miles (20.9 kilometers) of bus lanes along the city as well as roll out a scheme that allows local businesses to “try before they buy” ULEVs.

Finally, Milton Keynes will use £9 million to open an Electric Vehicle Experience Centre that provides consumer advice and short-term vehicle loans. Free parking bays for EVs and lanes that give EVs the same priority as local buses are also part of Milton Keynes’ program.

The government is also providing £5 million of funding for specific initiatives in Dundee, Oxford, York and north-east regions that boost the use of EVs. An example is the development of solar-canopied park and ride hubs in York.

These projects “will support the U.K.’s thriving green vehicle sector, improve air quality in urban hotspots and help the government meet its emission cutting targets,” said the Department of Transport.

However, EVs are also part of the energy storage revolution. Speaking at the Energy Storage: The New Market Dynamic event organized by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) last week in London, REA’s senior advisor on EVs, Ray Noble, said that the current dynamic created by some leading EV models (e.g. Tesla, Nissan and Porsche) would become an inseparable part of the U.K. storage landscape.

Yarime Masaru, a project associate professor of science technology and innovation governance at the University of Tokyo, recently told pv magazine that many of Japan’s leading automotive industry firms were investing in smart city and smart community research projects. The rationale, said Masaru, was that the development of smart cities would also boost the sales of plug-in electric vehicles.

Therefore, by investing in EV programs through its cities, the U.K. government is slowly enabling the smart energy revolution, which will come from bottom-up and oppose the centralized energy model that the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change currently envisages and promotes.