Over the last decade, the UK Government has introduced a variety of measures to support the transition to meet the 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emission target – from providing grants to increase the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) and the installation of charge points in individual homes to establishing a Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) managed by our client Zouk Capital that will see the government match up to £200m of investment from the private sector to help develop and improve access to public EV charging.
There is much commentary by market participants that the main barrier to mass adoption of electric vehicles could soon become an inadequate charging infrastructure. If the UK Government is to be in a position to implement the ban on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in 2035 then continued significant investment will be needed into this sector.
It was a welcomed development that since its launch in autumn 2019, CIIF has already announced its second close (having £275m in signed commitments against their £400m target) and demonstrated that it will not only invest in charge point operators (such as Instavolt) but look to set up joint ventures with strategic partners. In their recent deal with Liberty Global, aimed at revolutionising on-street residential EV charging, they have set up a venture to build a scalable network by adapting Virgin Media’s telecom street cabinets and ducts throughout the country into charge points. The new venture, which will deliver ‘infrastructure as a service’ solutions to charge point operators, will leverage back office shared services provided by Liberty Group and benefit from Virgin Media’s expertise delivering under-the-pavement services. It will also build on Virgin Media’s involvement in the Virgin Media Park & Charge project launched in November 2019 by a consortium funded by Innovate UK and consisting of delivery partners Vattenfall and SMS, tech partners Cenex, Fully Charged, Connected Kerb, Ginger Town and DETA, a number of local authorities and councils, as well as Loughborough University.
Even though, at this time, some question whether a viable economic case for EV charging infrastructure has been created, CIIF and other market participants continue to be innovative in their approach to investment in this area.