The government has announced that the electric vehicle (EV) home charge points it funds must use “smart” technology from next July in a move that could head off the need for expensive network upgrades.

In addition, the government has said that grants to install charge points at home and in the workplace will be maintained at their current level of up to £500.

From July government subsidised charge points must be able to be remotely accessed, and capable of receiving, interpreting and reacting to a signal.

This announcement fulfils a commitment in the Road to Zero Strategy, which was published earlier this year.

Jesse Norman MP, roads minister, said: “The government wants the UK to be the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle, and through leadership and innovation it is paving the way to a zero emission future.

“We have already supported the installation of over 100,000 home charge points. Now the measures announced will give more people the opportunity to make the move to electric.”

David Smith, chief executive of Energy Networks Association said the government’s announcement reduced the risk that a proliferation of non-smart charge points would drain capacity from the electricity networks.

He said: “Smart charge points are critical to managing the rollout of electric vehicles, so this move is a welcome one. Without them there could be a proliferation of non-smart charge points that take capacity from the electricity networks, with no opportunity to manage the associated load.

“That could lead to the need to build expensive new infrastructure that could otherwise be avoided by the work that electricity networks are doing to build a smarter, more flexible energy system.”

Daniel Brown, policy manager at the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and EV charging lead, said “If rolled out widely, smart charging can work hand-in-hand with greater renewable power deployment. The key now is to come up with a definition for ‘smart charging’, currently being discussed in the EV Energy Taskforce, which maximises competition and innovation.

“Consumer protection will be vital for the charging industry in 2019 and the REA and the Renewable Energy Consumer Code are currently looking at how to ensure quality installations and that the consumer experience of home charging is positive.

“The home and workplace charging grants are critical pieces of policy support enabling this transition, and we welcome the news that the home charging grant level will be maintained.”

The government’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, which has been up and running since 2014, has delivered more than 60,000 grants to date.

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