Briefing

Charging Up the UK: Public Action to End Regional Inequalities in EV Infrastructure

The vast majority of the UK’s public chargepoints are concentrated in London. Public investment and coordination are needed to roll out equitable EV infrastructure.
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Briefing

Charging Up the UK: Public Action to End Regional Inequalities in EV Infrastructure

The vast majority of the UK’s public chargepoints are concentrated in London. Public investment and coordination are needed to roll out equitable EV infrastructure.
Executive Summary

Developing an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure system is essential to meeting the UK’s transport decarbonisation targets. Yet the current approach to delivering this infrastructure buildout is structured around market coordination — private and asynchronous investment decision-making based on expectations of profit — and already suffering from its pitfalls. EV chargepoints are concentrated in areas where car usage is lowest, leaving regions that rely on cars the most without the public infrastructure to decarbonise. As of April 2024, almost a third of EV charging points are in Greater London (the region in which the highest proportion of UK households do not own a car), while only 4.9 and 4.8 per cent of charging points are in Yorkshire and Humber and the East Midlands — two areas where car usage is highest in England.[1] Strikingly, the London borough of Westminster has more charging points than Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow, Southampton, Portsmouth and Newcastle combined. This investment pattern speaks to a chicken and egg problem in this sector, where private investment requires adequate demand or satisfactory revenues, but consumers will be hesitant to switch to electric vehicles without certainty of chargepoint infrastructure rollout.

At the same time, the shift from Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles to EVs, will have a significant effect on tax receipts. In 2023/24, the Office for Budget Responsibility expects the Exchequer to raise £24 billion in fuel duty. While a rapid phaseout of conventional vehicles is essential for net zero, the question of how to replace this revenue has not yet been answered effectively by the government or opposition parties.

This briefing looks under the bonnet of the ownership and investment patterns of EV charging companies to understand how a public system of EV charging could both accelerate infrastructure rollout and provide a new source of revenue to the Exchequer. We also examine how public ownership and coordination of elements of future EV infrastructure can address issues of coverage and regional inequity in the current charging system. This income-generating public infrastructure could present a way for drivers to save on their current fuel bills while securing the Exchequer a future stream of revenue.

Main findings

  • Until now, the market-coordinated approach to public chargepoint installations has led to extreme disparities in chargepoint infrastructure in England:
    • The London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has the highest number of chargepoints relative to its population, with 1347.6 per 100,000 people, fifteen times the UK average. Northern Ireland has the lowest number of chargepoints, with 28.6 per 100,000 people, three times below the UK average.
    • There are more public chargepoints in Westminster (2,693) than in Birmingham (550), Manchester (348), Leeds (527), Bradford (214), Glasgow City (439), Southampton (110), Portsmouth (113) and Newcastle upon Tyne (204) combined — eight of the largest cities outside London.
    • London has a disproportionately high number of chargepoints per head of population compared to the rest of the UK. There are more chargepoints in London (19,469) than there are in the North East (1,942), West Midlands (4,831), South West (4,278) and Scotland (5,077) combined.
  • The pace of public chargepoint installations needs to increase — we estimate that the government is not on track to meet their own target of 300,000 public EV chargepoints by 2030. Based on the current rate of growth of public chargepoint installations, there will be just over 200,000 chargepoints by 2030, 100,000 short of the government's target.
  • Publicly owned chargepoint infrastructure could generate significant revenue  —we estimate that if the whole of England’s chargepoint infrastructure was publicly owned then it would have generated £679 million of revenue in 2023/24. If the government owned and maintained the entire public chargepoint infrastructure of 300,000 chargepoints in 2030, we estimate this could generate £4 billion in revenue annually, which could help offset the decline in fuel duty revenues.
  • Where government support is provided for the public chargepoint rollout, there has been poor take up by local authorities. We calculate that less than half (48 per cent) of the UK’s local authorities accessed the on-street residential chargepoint scheme (ORCS) grant, and only 49 councils out of 317 have accessed the local electric vehicle infrastructure fund (LEVI) fund to date.
  • Scotland’s state-led approach to EV charging infrastructure has led to it having the highest number of rapid chargepoints relative to its population than any other nation or region of the UK. Rapid chargepoints require a higher initial investment than on-street chargepoints but allow EVs to charge on the go.
  • The public chargepoint infrastructure market is relatively crowded: 15 companies own 69 per cent of all public chargepoints. The rapid public chargepoint market is slightly less so, with eight companies owning 68 per cent of total market share. Shell’s Recharge Ubitricity is the largest chargepoint operator with 14 per cent market share in April 2024. Three oil and gas giants — BP, Shell and TotalEnergies — have a combined market share of 25 per cent.
  • The government’s ambition for UK SMEs to lead the public chargepoint rollout is shortsighted. In its paper “Taking Charge: the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy”, the government claims that UK SMEs are “driving the pace and change” in the industry and that by 2030 this will a “huge global opportunity for UK Plc”[2]. However, we find that the largest ultra-rapid chargepoint company, InstaVolt, was bought out by a Swedish private equity firm in early 2022. Only 10 of the 19 largest public chargepoint companies are based in the UK and one is based in the Cayman Islands (MFG EV Power Limited).

Policy recommendations:

  • [.green]The UK should move away from a market-led approach to EV chargepoint rollout,[.green] which has left stark geographic inequalities and is ill-equipped to support wider transport decarbonisation goals. The transition to EVs will be held back if the UK’s public chargepoint infrastructure is left simply to the dynamics of for-profit investment, where chargepoints are only built in profitable areas such as London, and other areas have underdeveloped infrastructure.  Multiple surveys point to the low availability of charging infrastructure either as the leading obstacle to EV adoption or a close runner-up to the price of EVs themselves.[3]
  • [.green]Instead, a publicly owned national chargepoint operator (Great British Charge Point, or GBCP) should be established to systemically plan and roll-out this critical infrastructure,[.green] in particular supporting areas of the UK where chargepoint investments are not suitably profitable for private investment. With flexible tariffs, these chargepoints could recoup the costs of the initial government investment in infrastructure as well as become a revenue-making opportunity for the government as the switch to EVs intensifies. GBCP should be governed as an Arm’s Length Body, independent from central government and with a clear mandate — to accelerate EV infrastructure roll-out in areas underserved by the market — but with democratic accountability. GBCP would work with the devolved nations and combined authorities to plan a chargepoint infrastructure focused on need.
  • [.green]Direct investment by GBCP offers better value for money as a way to support the sector.[.green] The government is already subsidising the rollout of EV chargepoint infrastructure through various grants to local authorities. Currently, only private chargepoint operator firms will benefit from this state investment, thus cementing the private sector’s ability to extract rent from this infrastructure of the future while also failing to adequately roll it out. Moreover, take up of government grants across local authorities has been poor. Many councils are struggling with financial pressures after over a decade of cuts, putting EV charging infrastructure further down their list of priorities. Instead of relying on cash-strapped councils to apply for funding and hire staff to plan chargepoints locally, a publicly-owned chargepoint operator could include a strategic unit with a statutory duty to plan the best places for new EV chargepoints to meet the needs of those without home chargers, as well as those in areas that have not accessed government support to date. This strategic unit could work with Ofgem, electricity distribution network organisations (DNOs), Great British Energy (GBE), and the grid to capture synergies across the rollout of public chargepoint infrastructure.
  • [.green]A publicly-owned chargepoint operator could also remove cost barriers to people who cannot charge at home.[.green] Currently, an EV user that does not have access to at home charging pays more in electricity than an ICE user does in fuel. GBPC could offset this by charging lower tariffs in roads and areas with no access to at-home EV charging.
  • [.green]GBCP could also increase its market share by buying out failing or smaller operators.[.green] The current public EV chargepoint industry is extremely saturated, and over the next few years there is likely to be further mergers and acquisitions of smaller companies by larger ones. If GBCP could act ahead of the market and buy out other operators, this would allow it to begin to control the pricing and operation of key green assets.
Full Text

The EV Charging Infrastructure Coordination Problem

Domestic transport is the UK’s highest emitting sector, accounting for 26 per cent of its total emissions in 2021. Road vehicles constituted 91 per cent of this, half of which is from passenger cars.[4] UK land transport decarbonisation policy is currently premised on a regulatory push to replace ICE vehicles with EVs. Some strides have been made in this direction — EVs represented 17.6 per cent of car market share as of May 2024, with plug-in hybrids representing a further 8.0 per cent. However, it is notable that ongoing overall growth in the EV market is driven entirely by fleets and business demand, while private retail uptake is declining.[5] In September 2023, the government diverged from its regulatory course, opting to postpone the impending ban on the sale of new ICE.[6]

The current government's approach to decarbonising transport has long been hindered by various challenges, including insufficient public investment, coordination, and planning essential for achieving sectoral transformation. Given that transport is one of the UK's leading contributors to emissions, the government's reliance on regulation to propel decarbonisation, without a broader strategy involving public investment, poses a risk to the overall success of achieving net zero targets. Common Wealth argues in a companion report that transport decarbonisation policy must employ the tools of public coordination to develop a multi-modal green transport system premised on robust, accessible, and affordable public transport networks. However, to the extent that this sectoral decarbonisation hinges on the rapid and nationwide take-up of private EVs, the development of a nationwide EV charging network is a critical policy concern.

In the paper “Taking charge: the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy”, the government affirmed the role of the private sector in building charging point infrastructure.[7] However, building out a public EV charging network presents a chicken and egg problem for private investment that is structurally guided by profitability concerns. Although the longer-term ban on new ICE vehicles is a strong regulatory stick that will begin to affect consumer vehicle purchases long before the 2035 date, consumer EV purchases remain and will remain highly contingent upon strong concerns over relative costs and availability of public charging, especially to drive longer distances. Therefore, individual or household decisions to transition to EVs depend in part on the availability of relatively low-cost and fast public charging stations, especially for people without the opportunity of home charging, but private investment in charging infrastructure relies on expectations of profit derived from private investors’ assessment of strong consumer demand. Indeed, in the US context, the development of public EV charging by Tesla shows how for-profit charging developers actually have an incentive to build fewer charge points per charging station in order to increase demand and thus prices, whereas consumers are concerned with overcapacity at charge points, as electric vehicle charging currently takes a much longer time than refilling petrol tanks.[8]

Market coordination of EV charging infrastructure is leading to regional inequality and a poorly coordinated buildout where chargepoints are concentrated in wealthier areas, which also tend to be the areas where people have greatest access to robust public transport options.

The UK EV chargepoint network: fragmented ownership, regional inequality, and malcoordination

The public EV charging infrastructure market has many different companies installing public chargepoints with little government oversight, let alone proactive spatial planning. Table 2 in the appendix displays the top 15 companies for EV charging points by market share according to Zapmap, which collects UK-wide data on EV charging points. As of 31 March 2024, these 15 companies have a total of 69 per cent market share. Shell plc’s EV chargepoint subsidiary, Shell Recharge Ubitricity, is the largest UK EV chargepoint owner with 8,612 public chargepoints, or one in seven of all public chargepoints.

The market is more concentrated for ultra-rapid chargepoints, with just eight companies holding 68 per cent of the market share. The list of ultra-rapid charging points and their market share is in Table 3 in the appendix. As is the case with many new markets, there tends to be a greater concentration of market power as the market matures.

Financial commentators are predicting a wave of consolidation in the industry as excess fragmentation squeezes margins, taking the glow off the industry’s euphoric early-stage valuations.[9] Institutional investors are now classing chargepoints as a new infrastructure asset class. This coming M&A wave will constitute a redistribution of existing assets rather than investment in new capacity. Both the capex-heavy cost profile of chargepoints as an asset class (excluding electricity costs, as modelling by Cornwall Insights shows)[10] and the economies of scale that the prospective buyers in the M&A market have identified make public provision preferable.

The UK government has stressed that the market-led rollout for the majority of chargepoints represents “a huge global opportunity for UK Plc”.[11] However, our analysis shows that the existing UK chargepoint infrastructure is an opportunity for global capital, not limited to businesses in the UK. For example, InstaVolt — the leading rapid and ultra-rapid chargepoint operator — was bought in March 2022 by EQT Infrastructure V, a fund managed by the Swedish private equity firm EQT AB group. In fact, only three of the top chargepoint operating companies have parent companies who are publicly listed on the London stock exchange: BP, Shell and Investec.

Regional inequality

  • As of April 2024, the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has more chargepoints (2,470) than the North East (1,942) and Manchester (348) combined.
  • There are more chargepoints in Westminster (2,693) than in Birmingham (550), Manchester (348), Leeds (527), Bradford (214), Glasgow City (439), Southampton (110), Portsmouth (113) and Newcastle upon Tyne (204) combined.

A notable feature of the current government’s approach to public chargepoint infrastructure is the poor take up of central government grants and subsidies by local authorities. The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme provided funding to councils to build out EV charging infrastructure for residents without off-street parking. The scheme opened in 2019 and closed in 2024. We find that only 48 per cent of local authorities in the UK accessed this grant and that a third of all funding available went to local authorities in London.[12] Based on the latest available data, 5,274 of these chargepoints have been installed and a further 14,037 have been approved for completion by March 2025.

Another government support scheme, the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI)) fund, provides funding for local authorities in England to improve the “roll out and commercialisation of local charging infrastructure”,[13] including £343 million capital funding which contributes towards the costs of chargepoints,[14] and £37.8million resource funding for labour costs of new staff to install and deliver chargepoints.[15] However, as of 18 March 2024, only 49 of 317 councils have had their applications approved to access the LEVI fund.[16] This weak take-up would indicate that the current approach of public financing alone is insufficient to make up for market failures of under delivery of chargepoint infrastructure in different regions; instead an actual public option to undertake fixed investment is necessary.

[.fig][.fig-title]Figure 1: Patchy Grant Take Up for the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme across UK Local Authorities[.fig-title][.fig-subtitle]Total amount received by each local authority for the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, 2019-2024[.fig-subtitle][.fig]

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

Since October 2019, the number of public electric charging points has grown almost three times (295 per cent), from 15,116 to 59,670 in April 2024. However, a linear regression forecasting of this trend suggests that the current rate of growth will be insufficient to meet the government’s (arbitrary) target of 300,000 public chargepoints by 2030.

[.fig][.fig-title]Figure 2: UK is Unlikely to Reach its Target if Installations of Public Chargepoints Continue at their Current Rate[.fig-title][.fig-subtitle]Number of operational public chargepoints, forecasted to 2030[.fig-subtitle][.fig]

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

Ownership and investment patterns in EV charging infrastructure are leading to stark regional inequality of charging access across the UK which we should view as systemic, likely to lead to compounding underinvestment and malcoordination over time. London has seen the largest growth in EV chargepoints and as of April 2024, the number of chargepoints in London per population is 2.5 times higher than the UK average. As shown in figure 3, chargepoint growth in London has far outpaced the rest of the UK.

[.fig][.fig-title]Figure 3: Public EV Chargepoint Installations in London Have Outstripped the Rest of the UK[.fig-title][.fig-subtitle]Number of chargepoints in each region and nation, October 2019 to April 2024[.fig-subtitle][.fig]

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

This disparity in access to public chargepoints is even more stark when examining local-level data. We find evidence that the status quo market-led development of EV charging infrastructure has favoured more affluent areas and underserved middle income and poorer areas of the country. For example, the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has the highest number of chargepoints, with 1347.6 per 100,000 people, fifteen times the UK average. Interestingly, we find a loose correlation between the number of EVs registered in a local authority compared to the number of EV chargepoints in the same local authority (shown in figure 5). The reason for this is unclear. A potential explanation is that there a higher number of at-work chargepoints in these areas, more people commute into London boroughs such as Westminster and the City of London than live there.

[.fig][.fig-title]Figure 4: The Market-Based Approach to Public Chargepoints is London-Centric[.fig-title][.fig-subtitle]Public chargepoints per 100,000 people, by local authority, region and country, April 2024[.fig-subtitle][.fig]

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

[.fig][.fig-title]Figure 5: London's Chargepoint Concentration Far Outstrips Level Predicted by EV Penetration[.fig-title][.fig-subtitle]Private EV registrations vs public chargepoints per capita, by UK local authority, 2024[.fig-subtitle][.fig]

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

By contrast, in Scotland, public chargepoint infrastructure was built out by public investment and planned as a nationwide infrastructure; as a result, Scotland has a much greater rapid and ultra-rapid EV chargepoint penetration than England and the UK average, with 24 rapid or faster chargepoints per 100,000 people, compared just 13 rapid or faster chargepoints per 100,000 people in London. Rapid chargepoints are typically found en route in petrol stations and retail parks; given they are able to charge EVs rapidly on the go, they are a crucial part of the EV transition, with many people hesitant to switch to EVs for fear of running out of charge mid-journey.

[.fig][.fig-title]Figure 6: Scotland Has the Most En Route Chargepoints per Capita than Any Other UK Region and Nation[.fig-title][.fig-subtitle]Rapid public chargepoints per 100,000 population, April 2024[.fig-subtitle][.fig]

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

[.fig]Figure 7: Chargepoints in Westminster, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth and Southampton[.fig]

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

In sum, the logic of current policy is that voluntary consumer EV adoption will drive sectoral decarbonisation, when such consumer adoption is in part dependent upon the availability and affordability of public charging, yet private investment to develop out this necessary physical infrastructure network is premised on certainty of demand. As evidenced above, we are already seeing the effects of structural underinvestment and malcoordination.

Malcoordination

Direct public investment can fix the EV chargepoint network’s coordination problem, leveraging the risk-bearing and planning capacity of the state to proactively build out this vital infrastructure. Structural reliance on private investment to drive the buildout of a public charging network will underdeliver, holding back EV adoption and transport decarbonisation. A publicly-owned chargepoint builder and operator could roll out chargepoint infrastructure in areas that are not currently commercially viable for private investment and where local authorities have struggled to access or deploy grant funding. Moreover, a public company could invest from the principle of building out a well-planned universal public charging system, divorcing investment decisions from profit-maximising imperatives. Public operation of EV chargepoint infrastructure would also allow for price-setting flexibility, with socially and therefore politically beneficial possibilities. For example, a public chargepoint operator could flexibly set rates such as lower rates during periods of off-peak electricity usage, so that people who are unable to charge at home can benefit from lower rates at public chargepoints. With tariffs being recycled back to the public company, these chargepoints could recoup the costs of the initial government investment in infrastructure as well as become a revenue-making opportunity for the government as the switch to EVs intensifies.

The current market-led approach to building out a public charging network forfeits a potential source of fiscal revenue. A foreseeable outcome of any phaseout of ICE vehicles will be the complete erosion of revenue raised by the UK’s fuel duty tax. The fuel duty raises around £30 billion annually for general Treasury revenue — equivalent to around 6p on the basic rate of income tax. Replacing the fuel duty with alternative sources of fiscal revenue is a huge political challenge, as taxation is a distributional struggle. A progressive government must seek to develop alternative sources of revenue that are not regressive or otherwise socially harmful. Taxing EVs in the same manner as petrol cars poses some difficulties, as private at-home charging will likely constitute the majority of charging, where disaggregated electricity use is difficult to monitor and thus tax.

Public buildout of a universal EV charging network helps square this circle, creating revenue-generating assets that can partially compensate for the erosion of the fuel duty tax over time. Scotland provides an excellent example of the benefits of public direct investment in this sector, and a model for how public ownership of such assets can provide a fiscal revenue source over time.

To encourage EV car adoption, Scotland built a network of publicly-owned rapid and fast chargepoints where EVs can be charged for free. Compared to the rest of Great Britain, Scotland has the highest number of rapid chargepoints (50kW and above) relative to its population, with 24.2 rapid chargepoints per 100,000 population, which is significantly higher than England, with 16.9 per 100,000 population and London, with just 13.0 per 100,000 population. Rapid chargepoints are typically used en route, where EV users can charge their vehicle to 80% in 30 minutes or less. Scotland has rolled out this infrastructure in partnership with actors in the transmission and distribution networks (the grid), ameliorating the issue of connection costs and grid access, which is a significant barrier to the installation of chargepoints in remote and rural areas. In the latest figures from the Department for Transport, Scotland is close second to England in terms of the number of registered EVs per capita.

[.fig]Battery Powered Cars per 100,000 People, Private Keepership, Q4 2023[.fig]

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

[.box][.box-header]The grid problem[.box-header][.box-paragraph]The current architecture of the UK’s electricity system transmission and distribution networks (the grid) also compounds these issues of underinvestment and malcoordination, as its own underinvestment and high connection costs delay and add costs for private chargepoint projects. Scotland has a novel approach to coordinating these siloed parts of the energy system through project PACE, a strategic partnership between the Scottish Government and Scotland’s electricity DNOs to coordinate the planning of decarbonised transport systems. This DNO-led approach could realise cost savings of between £1.3 million and £2.6 million across 44 EV charging hub sites.[17] The Scottish government also have a wider policy to work with the electricity and gas distribution networks to build greater capacity to meet the needs of transport electrification.[18][.box-paragraph][.box-paragraph]The area of greatest cost, and hence of greatest impact on business cases, particularly for rapid and ultra-rapid chargepoints, is DNO costs. As demonstrated by Project PACE, however, the early involvement of DNOs in chargepoint planning can bring significant cost and timing benefits. DNOs will be a key part of rolling out EV charging infrastructure and the ability of the wider regulatory environment to enable DNOs to make anticipatory investment remains an important issue for Ofgem and the grid to consider.[.box-paragraph][.box]

Modelling Revenue from a State-Owned Public Chargepoint Infrastructure

One benefit of a publicly-owned public chargepoint operator is the potential revenue the provider can bring to the government, especially as a replacement for fuel duty, which brought £24.7 billion in tax receipts in 2023/24.[19] A publicly-owned chargepoint operator, that owns and operates the UK’s chargepoint network, Great British Charging Point (GBCP), could provide an alternative source of revenue for the government.

We estimate that by 2030, a publicly-owned chargepoint network could generate revenues of at least £4 billion annually. While this would cover only a fraction of the revenue lost from fuel duty, public coordination of the chargepoint rollout would ensure that the rest of the UK catches up to the growth seen in London over the last few years.  

Using data from ChargePlace Scotland (the Scottish government’s publicly owned chargepoint operator), we extrapolate revenue for the whole of the UK’s chargepoint network by finding the average annual revenue per chargepoint by speed and multiplying it by the number of chargepoints in Scotland, England and the UK. To account for the fact that there are different rates of EVs per population in Scotland, England and the UK, the total revenue is also scaled by the number of EVs per population relative to Scotland’s number of EVs per population. We find that if the whole of England’s chargepoint network was publicly owned in 2023/24, the revenue generation would be around £679 million. We then projected these findings onto the 2030 target, i.e. 300,000 chargepoints across the UK. We assume the ratio between slow/fast chargepoints and rapid/ultra-rapid chargepoints will remain constant into 2030. We found that, with the same tariffs, the annual revenue from a publicly-owned chargepoint operator would be around £4 billion.

These findings are summarised as follows:

[#t1][.fig]Table 1: Summary of GBCP Revenue Analysis[.fig][#t1]

Number of chargepoints Revenue
Chargepoint network Slow/fast rapid+ All Slow/fast rapid+ All
ChargePlace Scotland 2320 565 2885 £8,821,099.12 £16,592,629.63 £25,413,728.75
Scotland 3751 1326 5077 £14,262,044.30 £38,941,286.53 £53,203,330.83
UK 47981 11609 59590 £261,447,051.79 £488,586,338.47 £750,033,390.27
England 41930 9576 51506 £245,782,979.49 £433,553,936.72 £679,336,916.20
2030 target with scaling for EVs per population in England 244224 55776 300000 £1,431,578,725.71 £2,525,262,707.55 £3,956,841,433.26
2030 target without scaling for EVs per population in England 244224 55776 300000 £928,587,879.42 £1,638,001,669.40 £2,566,589,548.82

Conclusion

The current policy architecture for delivering land transport decarbonisation is premised on the idea that voluntary adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by consumers will lead to the reduction of sector-wide carbon emissions. However, this adoption is partly contingent upon the accessibility and affordability of public charging infrastructure, which in turn currently relies on private investment to deliver buildout. However, private investors are hesitant without certainty of demand, leading to underinvestment and regional inequality in access to chargepoints.

The state's capacity to bear risks, plan over time and space, and divorce investment from the profit imperative makes it best suited to address this coordination problem through direct public investment in building essential physical infrastructure. Without such investment, only the most profitable public charging projects will proceed, leading to insufficient coverage and therefore the risk that we miss land transport decarbonisation targets.

Establishing a publicly-owned entity for building and operating charge points could address gaps in coverage, especially in areas not commercially viable for private investment. Its mandate should be delivering a nationwide infrastructure to facilitate mass EV take up, initially focusing on (the many) areas underserved by the market-led rollout. A public body, working with devolved nations, Mayors, and local authorities, alongside private sector companies, could plan and implement a comprehensive, universal charging network.  

Revenue generated from these chargepoints could offset initial infrastructure costs and contribute to government revenue as EV adoption increases. Furthermore, the absence of direct public investment in charging infrastructure overlooks a potential fiscal revenue source. As the UK phases out ICE vehicles, revenue from fuel duty will decline significantly, necessitating alternative revenue sources that are equitable and socially responsible.

Taxing EVs similarly to petrol cars presents challenges due to predominantly private, home-based charging, making monitoring and taxation difficult. Building a universal EV charging network with public investment addresses this issue by creating revenue-generating assets, compensating for the decline in fuel duty tax revenue over time.

Appendix

Methodology

Background

In this briefing, we set out to model the future revenues of a publicly-owned chargepoint operator. Due to the devolution of transport powers across the UK, the rollout of EV charging infrastructure has been different in each region, nation and combined authority.  In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the installation of public EV chargepoints has been mostly market-led, with government subsidies to support the private sector which have been administered by local authorities. Scotland has taken a mixed-economy approach, with a publicly-owned chargepoint operator, ChargePlace Scotland, providing half of all public chargepoints.

ChargePlace Scotland data

To estimate the potential revenues from a publicly-owned chargepoint operator, we analysed the usage data of ChargePlace Scotland’s chargepoint network for the twelve months up to March 2024.[20] This data contains a log of each time a chargepoint was used, how long it was used for, the type of chargepoint (AC, rapid or ultra-rapid), the total kWh consumed, and the amount charged to the end user. Only parts of the ChargePlace Scotland network charge for the use of their chargepoints, so just looking at the amount charged would not be sufficient for this analysis.  

After downloading the monthly session data from the ChargePlace Scotland’s website, the datasets were joined to create a larger “annual” dataset. The monthly session data for October 2023 had to be removed from the dataset because it did not contain the “connector-type” column, which was crucial for the analysis — for more information about this, please see the data notes section below — because in our model, the price per kWh consumed varies by the speed of the chargepoint.

How much you pay for electricity at a chargepoint can vary widely by chargepoint operator and the speed of the chargepoint: the AC or slow or fast chargepoints have a lower tariff than the rapid or ultra-rapid ones. In our model, we used Zapmap’s calculations of the average chargepoint tariff by speed for April 2024. These were 57p per kWh for slow/fast chargepoints and 80p per kWh for rapid/ultra-rapid chargepoints.

After data cleaning, the dataset had 1,637,582 entries in total. We then aggregated this data to make a monthly summary table of the usage data; this table can be found in the appendix as Table 6.

To calculate the annual revenue of ChargePlace Scotland’s network for 2023/24, we added the revenues together for the 11 months we have data for. As the October data was removed from the dataset, we imputed these values by dividing the total revenue for the 11 months by 334, (the number of days in the year minus the number of days in October), and multiplying by 366, the number of days in the 2023/24 calendar year.

We find that, using the average chargepoint price tariffs, the ChargePlace Scotland network would have had an estimated revenue of £25 million (£25,413,728.75).

Using these findings, we extrapolated revenue for the whole of the UK’s chargepoint network by finding the average annual revenue per chargepoint by speed and multiplying it by the number of chargepoints in Scotland, England and the UK. To account for the fact that there are different rates of EVs relative to Scotland, England and the UK’s respective populations, the total revenue is also scaled by the number of EVs per population relative to Scotland’s number of EVs per population. We found that if the whole of England’s chargepoint network was publicly owned in 2023/24 the revenue generation would be around £679 million (£679,336,916.20). We then projected these findings onto the 2030 target, i.e. 300,000 chargepoints across the UK. We assumed the ratio between slow/fast chargepoints and rapid/ultra-rapid chargepoints will remain constant into 2030. We found that, with the same tariffs, the annual revenue from a publicly owned chargepoint operator would be around £4 billion (£3,956,841,433.26).

These findings are summarised in Table 1 of the report.

Assumptions

As with any model, assumptions must be made. Here, we assume that the growth in EVs with remain constant from now until 2030. However, if the government’s commitment to ban new ICE cars by 2030 is upheld, the transition to EVs may be more rapid than our model suggests. Because of this, we believe our model is a lower bound estimate for potential revenues from a publicly-owned chargepoint operator in 2030.

[#dn]Data Notes[#dn]

Sessions with a duration of zero or kWh consumed of zero were removed from the dataset. If the connector type was not given in the entry, it was removed from the dataset. Session durations shorter than one minute and longer than three days were also removed from the dataset. This is in accordance with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ 2013 paper, “High-level analysis of the Plugged-in Places chargepoint usage data”.[21] Sessions that started before 1 April 2023 and after 31 March 2024 were also removed. Sessions where the kWh consumed was greater than 100 kWh were also removed because the maximum battery capacity for an EV is 100 kWh.  

The total kWh consumed by chargepoint type was multiplied by their respective tariff to get the annual revenue estimate. Ultra-rapid chargepoints were given the same tariff as rapid chargepoints and AC controller chargepoints were given the same tariff as slow/fast AC chargepoints.

Tables

[#t2][.fig][.fig-title]Table 2: Network Market Share UK for All Electric Vehicle Charging points, 31 March 2024[.fig-title][.fig-subtitle]Total charge devices: 59,590[.fig-subtitle][.fig][#t2]

Company name Market share Market share (%)
Shell Recharge Ubitricity 8612 14%
Pod Point 4777 8%
Connected Kerb 3945 7%
BP Pulse 3491 6%
ChargePlace Scotland 2865 5%
char.gy 3084 5%
Source London 2517 4%
Sure Charge 2373 4%
blink 1635 3%
Fuuse 1522 3%
InstaVolt 1501 3%
Mer 1337 2%
Osprey 1163 2%
Swarco E.Connect 1121 2%
Chargepoint 994 2%
Top 15 total 40937 69%

[.notes]Source: Zapmap.[.notes]

[#t3][.fig][.fig-title]Table 3: Network Market Share for Rapid and Ultra-Rapid Devices, 31 March 2024[.fig-title][.fig-subtitle]Total rapid and ultra-rapid devices: 11,609[.fig-subtitle][.fig][#t3]

Company name Market share Market share (%)
InstaVolt 1495 13%
Tesla Supercharger (public and Tesla only) 1376 12%
BP Pulse 1249 11%
Osprey 1148 10%
GRIDSERVE Electric Highway 781 7%
MFG EV Power 675 6%
GeniePoint 618 5%
ChargePlace Scotland 571 5%
Top 8 total 7913 68%

[.notes]Source: Zapmap.[.notes]

[.fig][.fig-title]Table 4: Local Authorities with the Highest Number of Charging Points per 100,000 Population[.fig-title][.fig]

Local authority October 19 April 24 Change (%)
Hammersmith and Fulham 147.8 1347.6 812%
Westminster 190.0 1313.1 591%
Kensington and Chelsea 104.4 600.9 476%
Southwark 48.5 585.2 1106%
Coventry 42.5 499.0 1073%
Richmond upon Thames 141.2 460.0 226%
Wandsworth 126.8 420.6 232%
Merton 57.2 369.2 545%
Watford 31.0 330.9 967%
Brent 62.6 316.9 406%

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

[.fig][.fig-title]Table 5: Local Authorities with the Lowest Number of Charging Points per 100,000 Population[.fig-title][.fig]

Local authority October 19 April 24 Change (%)
Castle Point 1.1 3.3 201%
Walsall 4.9 14.4 192%
Staffordshire Moorlands 7.1 14.6 105%
Fenland 3.0 14.6 394%
Mid Ulster 14.9 15.3 2%
Tameside 8.9 16.4 85%
Neath Port Talbot 5.6 16.9 202%
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon 14.0 17.3 24%
Mid and East Antrim 18.7 18.0 -4%
Sefton 4.7 18.6 294%

[.notes]Source: Department for Transport.[.notes]

[#t6][.fig][.fig-title]Table 6[.fig-title][.fig][#t6]

Month Connector type Average duration (hours) Uses Total kWh consumed Total revenue
April 23 AC 4.323026 77167 1513123 862480
April 23 Rapid 0.836354 83856 1798722 1438978
April 23 Ultra-Rapid 0.590723 752 21127.06 16901.65
August 23 AC 4.529999 81342 1633980 931368.8
August 23 Rapid 0.80564 75333 1634760 1307808
August 23 Ultra-Rapid 0.504417 568 14410.31 11528.25
December 23 AC 5.09206 71973 1623221 925236
December 23 Rapid 0.836592 72549 1617699 1294159
December 23 Ultra-Rapid 0.555246 492 12841.35 10273.08
February 24 AC 4.875189 58376 1259053 717660.4
February 24 Rapid 0.867561 54600 1214547 971637.3
February 24 Ultra-Rapid 0.482408 342 7212.19 5769.752
January 24 AC 5.01276 69763 1554792 886231.3
January 24 Rapid 0.864507 68011 1522978 1218382
January 24 Ultra-Rapid 0.510222 435 9638.3 7710.64
July 23 AC 4.466095 73084 1448812 825822.9
July 23 Rapid 0.800515 71673 1550430 1240344
July 23 Ultra-Rapid 0.520863 573 15107.22 12085.78
June 23 AC 4.483776 93405 1864551 1062794
June 23 Rapid 0.804817 84398 1826485 1461188
June 23 Ultra-Rapid 0.564748 605 17575.82 14060.66
March 24 AC 4.824896 69125 1491055 849901.1
March 24 Rapid 0.86449 69246 1555538 1244430
March 24 Ultra-Rapid 0.564201 467 10816.21 8652.968
May 23 AC 4.379239 76608 1504225 857408
May 23 Rapid 0.82535 77165 1660467 1328374
May 23 Ultra-Rapid 0.494038 676 17399.52 13919.62
November 23 AC 4.889282 76847 1674015 954188.7
November 23 Rapid 0.839467 79069 1733540 1386832
November 23 Ultra-Rapid 0.59217 508 11673.29 9338.632
October 23 AC 6.809826 8 261.48 149.0436
October 23 Rapid 0.622513 21 417.65 334.12
September 23 AC 4.527564 76100 1545142 880730.8
September 23 Rapid 0.802924 71859 1563031 1250425
September 23 Ultra-Rapid 0.50306 586 15170.83 12136.66

[.notes]Source: ChargePlace Scotland.[.notes]

Footnotes

[1] “Electric vehicle charging infrastructure statistics,” Department for Transport, 29 May 2024. Available here.

[2] "Taking Charge: The electric vehicle infrastructure strategy,” Department for Transport, 25 March 2022. Available here.

[3] See “Barriers to next phase of electric vehicle transition revealed,” Transport & Environment UK, 15 March 2024. Available here. See also “Fewer than half of drivers willing to make electric vehicle switch,” Auto Trader, 7 September 2023. Available here. See also “What are 5 challenges electric vehicles face today?” BSI Knowledge, 12 June 2023. Available here.

[4] “Electric vehicle charging infrastructure statistics,” Department for Transport, 29 May 2024. Available here.

[5] “New car market holds steady as fleets drive growth”, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 5 June 2024. Available here.

[6] Peter Campbell, Jim Pickard, Rachel Millard and Attracta Mooney, “Car industry reels from Sunak’s retreat on net zero plans”, Financial Times, 20 September 2023. Available here.

[7] “Taking Charge: The electric vehicle infrastructure strategy,” Department for Transport, 25 March 2022. Available here.

[8] “The U.S Has a Tesla Problem,” Shift Key Podcast, 14 April 2024. Available here.

[9] Alex Metz and Elizabeth Oliphant, “The EV Charging Market is Ripe for Consolidation,” Apricum, 17 May 2023. Available here.

[10] Charge point operators facing uncertain future when government support scheme ends in April”, Cornwall Insight, November 2022. Available here.

[11] “Taking Charge: The electric vehicle infrastructure strategy,” Department for Transport, 25 March 2022. Available here.

[12] “Electric vehicle charging device grant scheme statistics: April 2024,” Department for Transport, 29 May 2024. Available here.

[13] “Local electric vehicle infrastructure fund,” Energy Saving Trust. Available here.

[14] “Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) funding allocation methodology,” Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles, 7 September 2023. Available here.

[15] “Local electric vehicle infrastructure fund,” Energy Saving Trust. Available here.

[16] “Boost for drivers as millions delivered for EV chargepoints across the country,” Department for Transport, 18 March 2024. Available here.

[17] “PACE,” SP Energy Networks. Available here.

[18] “Gas and electricity networks: development principles,” Scottish Government, 23 March 2021. Available here.

[19] “Fuel Duties,” Office for Budget Responsibility. Available here.

[20] "Monthly Charge Point Performance,” Charge Place Scotland, May 2024. Available here.

[21] ”High level analysis of the plugged-in places chargepoint usage data,” Gov.UK, 9 April 2013. Available here.