Green miles: Smart car chargers coming to Scottish streets in UK-first trial

Green motorists in Scotland are set to benefit from a new UK-first electric vehicle smart charging scheme that will provide on-street power points and help drivers save money.

Glasgow city and East Lothian are two of just four regions across the nation that will trial the world-leading initiative and were chosen due to high local demand for public EV chargers.

Hackney and Shropshire in England were also selected.

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The move comes as part of the Agile Streets project, backed by the UK Government, which will make it easier and cheaper for EV owners who don’t have off-street parking to recharge their cars.

Agile Streets is the first scheme in the UK to integrate smart metering technology into public on-street charge points, allowing charging to be scheduled when electricity is cheapest

Four out of five people in Glasgow and one in three in East Lothian do not have access to off-street charging options.

The scheme will be the first in the UK to integrate smart metering technology into public on-street charge points, allowing charging to be scheduled when electricity is cheapest – such as on sunny or windy days, when renewable solar and wind energy are abundant, or at night, when power is least expensive.

The technology can slash the cost of EV charging by as much as 40 per cent for people who don’t have driveways, helping to balance out inequality and reduce barriers to switching to eco-friendly motoring.

A total of 24 Connected Kerb chargers will be installed in each of the four chosen areas and will remain in place after the eight-month Agile Streets trial is completed.

Glasgow city and the county of East Lothian will each have 24 smart chargers installed in public streets, opening up energy price discounts that would usually only be available to EV drivers who can plug in at home

To make use of the facilities, drivers must download an app that allows them to charge as they go.

EV ownership is skyrocketing, with UK registrations already up 139 per cent this year compared to last – with increases of 72 per cent in Glasgow and 54 per cent in East Lothian.

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Sales of new petrol and diesel cars are set to be outlawed in the UK in 2030.

As part of the project, drivers who have not yet gone electric, but would like to take part in the trial are being offered a special discount on renting an EV.

The initiative has been welcomed by EV drivers and local authorities alike.

Clare de Mowbray, from East Lothian, said: “I’ve been driving electric vehicles for over two years and absolutely love all aspects of it.

“We don't have off-road parking, so have relied totally on the public charging network – paying a premium for energy in the process.

“This scheme will allow me to save money every month, while also making it easier for me to charge by increasing the number of charge points.

“I’m thrilled to be playing my part in a project that is accelerating the transition to a greener future.

“By making it more accessible, simpler and cheaper for folk to switch to eco driving, they'll never go back.”

Councillor Anna Richardson, city convener for sustainability and carbon reduction at Glasgow City Council, said: “Providing equal access to affordable electric vehicle charging across the city is a key part of Glasgow's Climate Plan to respond urgently and effectively to the consequences of a changing climate.

“This scheme offers a great opportunity for local residents to have access to charging infrastructure that could save them hundreds of pounds every year.

“Not only is this crucial as we move closer to the 2030 ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars, but it will also directly contribute to the city's ambitions in reaching net-zero carbon by 2030.”

Chris Pateman-Jones, chief executive of smart charger firm Connected Kerb, said: “Easy access to affordable charging infrastructure is one of the biggest barriers to the uptake of EVs.

“The number of smart energy tariffs has exploded in recent years, thanks to increasing demand from EV owners, making charging at home one of the most affordable ways to travel today.

“However, almost half of us don’t have that privilege and instead rely on public charging infrastructure which is often more expensive.

“It is vital that access to affordable energy is equitable across the entire population – driveway or not – and this project does just that.”

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