Monday, 22 November 2021

Squatting on the Grid?

A friend has been complaining to me about EV charging stations being unusable for months on end - Soham and Sutton EV chargers in particular were mentioned. What is the hold-up? It could be equipment problems, or perhaps delays in getting capacity on the grid to supply - or is it unscrupulous business practice? It seems complete madness to me but Euan McTurk talked about this in an interview with Robert Llewellyn on his Fully Charged Show (12th Nov, about 4 minutes in). He seems to think large companies may be grabbing up capacity on the grid for fast chargers and not bothering to commission or maintain the equipment - but while they are there no-one else can get on without paying huge sums for a grid upgrade. 
These charging points in Soham have been 'coming soon' since December 2020

Can this be true?

Communications problems are blamed for the Soham being out of service for six months.
The Soham one was first installed in December 2020 and is still not commissioned. According to BP Pulse Customer Service the Sutton chargers (at the new Co-op) have been out of order due to communications problems since May. It seems problems with communications between the charging point and back office is a frequent cause of reliability problems [1]. However, if a company is serious about operating the chargers, one would have thought that such issues would not be left languishing for more than half a year. And if the problem cannot be fixed, that suggests worrying incompetence.

En-route charging points are the least reliable nationally.
Reliability is consistently ranked by EV drivers (surveyed by Zap-Map) as the most important feature of charging points - more important than price [1]. En-route charging points are most critical, as drivers have to plan journeys around them. Unfortunately these points are also the least reliable. On one day in February 2021, 11% of rapid en-route chargers on the Zap-Map system were out of action [1]. I note that EZ-Charge, currently raising money to run charging points in Oxfordshire, rate reliability as the single most important performance measure for their chargers, alongside ease of use and efficiency.

Contractual obligations for reliability could improve performance.
Long periods out of service may be due to negligence or incompetence. Either way the net result is to slow down the rollout of charging infrastructure across the country and deter new EV sales. I hope that when councils accept tenders for charging stations they include performance criteria in the contract terms. 

I am told that Euan (@106Euan) is interested in collecting evidence of 'squatting' so if you know of examples you could let him know. Or if you know more about why the Sutton and Soham chargers (or others in Cambs) are delayed, then let me know (@ngterry5) and I will pass it on. 

By the way, I do not have a car of any sort so I have no personal interest in this.

1 comment:

  1. You might like to sign this petition to set up a regulator for the EV charging network. It says " ...The charging network is one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption and users face daily obstacles. Some effectively lock their chargers behind a paywall due to inoperable apps. Broken chargers can remain inoperable for weeks on end. ... Companies that provide critical public infrastructure should be held to a minimum standard of service.'


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