The rollout of electric vehicles (EVs) should help digitise the economy in more ways than one.
The Energy Networks Association trade body announced yesterday that leading Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) are to reform application processes for installing and connecting EV chargepoints and heat pumps in order to curt the amount of paperwork households, councils, and businesses have to contend with.
The group said the goal aim of the reforms was enable more mass installations by charge point installers by introducing a new, standardised process for all types of properties and businesses, including, for the first time, commercial properties.
The announcement, which was made at the first combined ENA-Ofgem EV Forum in London, was made alongside confirmation the same administrative reforms will be applied to the process for connecting heat pumps to local networks.
Charge point and heat pump installers have previously had to use a range of different forms and requirements from different grid operators around the country to notify them of new installations being connected, the ENA said. The new standardised approach should simplify the entire application process with heat pump installers in particular seeing a major reduction in the amount of paperwork they have to complete.
The group added that further reforms will now be developed to digitalise the process and make use of new technologies such as facial recognition, to make the process even more streamlined.
“We want to help super-charge Britain’s EV roll-out,” said chief executive David Smith. “By finding new ways to cut the amount of paperwork, we are making it easier and quicker for EV charge points to connect to the network, helping the public make the switch to cleaner, greener transportation. At the same time, we want to ensure that they can access the latest low-carbon heating technologies, such as heat pumps, as easily as possible, to keep their homes warm throughout the year.”
He added that reforms will also help grid companies accelerate the development and deployment of smart grid technologies.
“Smart technology and data are vital to ensuring that network companies run the system in a more efficient and capable way,” he said. “But to do that we need to know where and when charge points and heat pumps are being installed so we can manage the system in the most reliable, flexible way possible. The changes announced today will make it easier for installers to provide that information whilst helping network operators fulfil their responsibilities to the public.”
The reforms were welcomed by Ian Johnston, CEO of EV charging company Engenie, who said they marked “a significant step forward in simplifying the roll out of rapid EV charging infrastructure”.
“However, it remains just one piece of the EV jigsaw,” he added. “The government in particular is failing to match its own rhetoric to truly embrace the EV revolution. It must show leadership and use consumer policy, clever regulation and significant funding to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon, pollutant free transport system.”
Daniel Brown, policy manager and EV lead at the REA trade body, also welcomed the new process, predicting it would “help streamline the deployment of EV charging in homes and commercial settings”, and make it easier to deploy smart charging technologies. .
“What’s key now is to build on this process and for the networks to work towards an app-based system so installers and developers can get extremely rapid decisions on the maximum demand of a site and permissions, where appropriate, to connect,” he added. “If as anticipated the EV charging industry scales up significantly meaning by the mid 2020’s some stakeholders could be modelling several thousand home and workplace installations per week, the speed of processing enquiries and applications, and the creation of industry-led schemes to support consumer protection, will be key.”