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Transforming transport: unlocking environmental and economic benefits

As world leaders gather at COP28 in search of solutions to decarbonise global economies, the transport sector emerges as a critical frontier in the battle against climate change.

Of all the sectors contributing to the UK's greenhouse gas emissions, transport is the largest, making up more than a quarter of the total. However, while this presents a significant challenge, it also offers a major opportunity to make a real impact on the country's net zero journey.

Tackling emissions from transportation necessitates a multifaceted approach, recognising that no solitary solution can single-handedly address the magnitude of the challenge at hand. The transition to a sustainable future demands a strategic blend of innovations and policies, embracing the different modes through which people and goods are transported across the country.

Among the myriad possibilities, the migration from internal combustion engines to EVs is among the solutions with the greatest potential, with the Climate Change Committee heralding it as the "largest single driver of future emissions reduction in the UK's Net Zero pathway. It highlights that electrification of the nation’s cars and vans could deliver reductions of 50Mt CO2e annually by 2035.

But a significant uptake in EVs necessitates the development of a reliable EV charging network to ensure drivers can travel with confidence.

So, how can businesses realise the full potential of this opportunity?

Powering progress: the imperative for investment in EV charging networks


Deloitte's 2023 Sustainable Consumer survey shows an increasing appetite for switching to EVs, but evidence within the market continues to suggest that charging infrastructure remains a barrier to adoption.

Despite this, official figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have revealed that sales of electric vehicles (EVs) increased in October for the 42nd month in succession. With almost 24,000 new EVs took to the road, they represented one in five new car registrations.

A more mature charging network could propel even greater growth in EV sales and represents an opportunity for businesses across the UK to adapt to incorporate an emerging customer need into its operations.

To alleviate these concerns and propel the electric future, a strategic and comprehensive investment in the EV charging network is indispensable.

Government's catalytic role: paving the path to progress


Central to this transformative endeavour is the role of the government. A proactive and supportive governmental stance is vital to incentivise the expansion of the charging network. By offering financial incentives, regulatory clarity, and strategic planning, the government becomes a catalyst for private and public investment.

Clear policies that encourage the development of charging infrastructure not only instil confidence in businesses but also reassure consumers that their journey towards sustainability is supported at a national level.

Headline policies developed to stimulate growth in EV sales and build momentum behind the transition, such as the ban on sale of new ICE vehicles after 2035 and the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate have gone some way to providing those market signals. Providing similarly supportive policies for the development of charging networks would ignite growth in the market and boost consumer confidence in EVs.

Industry innovation: nurturing a networked future


The private sector, particularly the automotive and energy industries, holds a pivotal role in shaping the future of EV charging.

Collaborations between automakers and energy providers are essential to establish an integrated and efficient charging ecosystem. Industry players investing in cutting-edge technologies, such as fast-charging solutions and smart grids, contribute significantly to enhancing the convenience and reliability of EV charging.

This synergy between government policies and industry innovation lays the foundation for a seamless and accessible charging network.

Financial partnerships: fuelling growth


Beyond government support and industry initiatives, financial providers play a crucial role in financing the expansion of the EV charging network. Investment funds, banks, and other financial institutions can facilitate the necessary capital for infrastructure development.

By offering strategic financing options, these entities contribute to the scalability of charging networks, making it an attractive investment for businesses while addressing this vital need.

Deloitte's Financing the Green Transition project highlights the need for governments, financial institutions, lenders, investors and project developers to jointly develop and agree on mechanisms to foster the bankability of green projects that are essential for climate neutrality, such as EV charging infrastructure.

It is only by working together that governments, industries and finance providers can remove the barriers to sustainable investment to ignite growth in green projects and propel the UK toward its net zero vision.

Opportunities for businesses


Investment in EV charging networks is not only a technological imperative but a collaborative effort involving government vision, industry innovation, and financial backing. As these sectors synergise, the pathway to a convenient, reliable, and extensive charging network across the UK becomes clearer, ushering in a new era of sustainable transportation.

But what does all of this mean for businesses? How can they get involved and support the development of a UK-wide EV charging network?

Firstly, businesses can adapt their existing sites to accommodate EV charging infrastructure. This could range from installing charging points in car parks to offering EV charging as a service alongside existing products and services. Businesses that offer EV charging are not only supporting the transition to a low-carbon transport system, but they are also meeting a growing consumer demand for sustainable options.

Secondly, there are opportunities to develop new business models that focus on EV charging infrastructure. For example, businesses could invest in charging networks or partner with other companies to build charging infrastructure. By doing so, they can position themselves at the forefront of the transition to sustainable transport and capitalise on the growing demand for EV charging.

Finally, businesses can support the development of EV charging infrastructure through financial partnerships. By investing in funds that support infrastructure development or offering financing options for businesses that want to invest in charging infrastructure, financial institutions can play a crucial role in accelerating the growth of the EV charging network.

The development of a UK-wide EV charging network is a critical element in the transition to a low-carbon transport system. By collaborating across government, industry, and finance, we can create a seamless, accessible, and reliable charging network that meets the needs of consumers and supports the UK's net zero journey. For businesses, the opportunities presented by this transition are significant, offering new revenue streams, the potential for new business models, and the ability to support the transition to a more sustainable future.