Government fossil-fuel car ban will drive industry to make much needed changes

05 February 2020

Bristol Energy will be at the forefront of this innovation.

As the government announces its intention to ban the sale of new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars by 2035, Energy Services Strategy Manager at Bristol Energy Jon Sankey explains the significance of this shift and how he hopes it will galvanize systematic change within our transportation system:

electric car

The government has announced its plans to ban the sale of new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars in the UK by 2035, bringing the proposed date forward by 5 years. And they are right to do so. Clear leadership from the government is needed to kickstart the decarbonisation of our transport system and to send the right signals to consumers. This comes after the recent announcement of an increase in funding for on-street charge-points and several pieces of work from the energy industry that are starting to give people confidence that electric vehicles (EVs) are a viable option for the average family car.

However, there is plenty more to do. Decarbonising the transport sector will not be solved by electrifying private vehicles alone. Public transport and general transport infrastructure also have an important, and arguably bigger role to play. Further effort from government is needed on things like commercial goods vehicles, encouraging and building infrastructure for active travel and improvements to public transport, but these initial noises are encouraging.

Powering EVs

At Bristol Energy, we have several trials currently running and are developing innovative business models with like-minded partners to support this transition to cleaner travel. Our residential customers can now switch to a tariff that rewards them for charging their EV when prices are cheapest and we are supplying Bristol City Council’s Revive network of EV charge-points. We are also keeping front of mind, the fact that not everyone will be able to charge an EV at home, so careful consideration for equity is needed. This proposal from the government is a welcome confirmation that we’re on the right track to transport transformation.

Major changes are afoot in the energy industry too. The recent launch of the Government’s Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce report (with input from Bristol Energy) brought thought-leaders from across the EV value chain together to come up with 21 proposals for Government, industry and regulators. The focus of these proposals is putting consumers first and they range from ensuring it’s easy to use and pay for charging, data protection, rewards for charging at the right time and supporting the expansion of charging infrastructure. In addition, this week Ofgem released its decarbonisation action plan which outlines the developments needed in the energy system to facilitate the shift to EVs.

Driving innovation

The government’s decision to move this ban forward by five years, clearly signals to the fossil-fuel industry that time will soon be up. While the vast majority of vehicle charging will take place at home, creating opportunities for energy suppliers, traditional petrol forecourts will be replaced with rapid charging hubs and may cease to exist altogether. Destination charging will become more important. No-one wants to stand on the side of the road while their EV charges; so charging infrastructure and services (workplaces, shopping, cinemas etc) will become increasingly co-located.

All of these factors converging – prices falling, ranges increasing, infrastructure build-out and disruptive innovation in energy and smart-charging – mean we are likely to be at the edge of a tipping point. History shows that convergence of several technologies and innovations leads to an exponential growth in adoption.

As people and organisations increasingly see this shift as one of the main ways they can contribute to decarbonisation, Bristol Energy will be here to partner with them on that journey.

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