28 October 2021

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Increasingly companies are installing charge points for electric vehicles in their car parks. Here we look at the five key areas you need to consider.

The move to electric means that many companies are considering installing workplace charging points. Research by Centrica Business Solutions found that companies planned to invest around £15.8 billion in EVs and on-site charge points between 2020 and 2022 [1], and as the speed of electrification gathers pace, this level of investment is likely to grow still further.

So if you are thinking of introducing charging points at your workplace, what are the factors you need to consider?

1. The number of charge points

In order to understand how many charge points you may need, you first need to set out a strategy for them.

Initially, you will need to work out what they are for. Are charge points a ‘nice-to-have’, for employees who have an electric car to use during the day when they are at work, but are not essential to your business operation?

With many electric cars able to travel more than 200 miles on one charge, then it is not a case of one charger for every car, as they may only really need to use it every few days. In which case, you might only need enough to cover this level of demand.

But if your operation is heavily dependent on electric vehicles being used regularly throughout the day, and often, then your ratio of charge points to vehicles may me much closer to 1:1.

Like all infrastructure projects, undertake research to establish future demand and the plan accordingly. What you will also have to factor in is that while electric vehicles will become more numerous, they are also likely to be able to go further between charges, so daily demand for workplace charge points may not expand commensurately with volumes.

The Energy Saving Trust has a range of advice for businesses, both big and small, looking into a workplace charging projects. You can explore further advice here.

2. Charging speeds

When it comes to electric vehicles, a lot of time is spent discussing how fast they charge. Some of the latest models can charge at ‘ultra fast’ speeds of up to 150 kW, which means adding approximately 100 miles of range in about 10 minutes. This is great if you are out on the road and need to get going again, but ultra fast chargers can require a lot of costly infrastructure and it may be unnecessary in the workplace.

After all, most cars will sit in the car park for many hours per day, and could fully charge off much cheaper 7kW points (which typically offer up to five miles of charge in 10 minutes), meaning you could install more and ultimately do the same job.

That said, it might be certain parts of your operation - such as delivery or client call-outs - require faster charging to get them back out to work, and the investment in some faster chargers would be a sensible return on investment.

In the visitor’s parking spaces, you might want to offer faster chargers too, so they can be ready to go once meetings are over: perhaps a middle-ground 22kW charger would do the job in this case.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but a mix and match approach might be needed, and it’s important to work out your exact requirements for various scenarios before you start.

3. Manage charge points

Anybody who has worked in a company with a large car park will know that parking is often an area of dispute among employees, and adding charge points is hardly likely to make it more harmonious – especially if all the points are full and somebody’s batteries are running low.

So you will have to have a policy in place if demand is outstripping supply.

You could time limit all employees to the amount of charging they can do each day, or charge a fee after a certain amount time, for extra charging.

Perhaps employees who have an EV but cannot charge at home get priority - but you will have to work out a system that allows them access.

4. Financial support

Companies can apply for the voucher-based Workplace Charging Scheme, designed to support the upfront costs of the purchase and installation of EV charge points.

The contribution is limited to the 75% of purchase and installation costs, up to a maximum of £350 for each socket, up to a maximum of 40 across all sites for each applicant.

Applicants can apply online. If successful, applicants you will be issued with a unique identification voucher code, which can then be given to any OZEV-authorised WCS installer.

The system will calculate the 75% of the purchase and installation costs and confirm the exact value awarded, capped at a maximum of £350 per socket.

A voucher can only be redeemed by installers who have been authorised by OZEV for the scheme, and have approval from a charge point manufacturer to install their OZEV-approved models.

You can apply here.

5. Charging for charging

Electricity is not classed as a fuel by HMRC, so there are no BIK tax issues if an organisation wishes to provide free charging to employees.

However, in the interest of fairness many businesses investing in charge points do ask for a fee to cover some, or all, of the cost of the electricity or the investment in the infrastructure. After all, those drivers in petrol or diesel cars might feel at a disadvantage.

If you decide employees should pay for using workplace charge points, they are able then to claim for business mileage from you at the HMRC advisory electricity rate (AER) at 4pm.

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