In a press release this morning the Department for Transport of His Majesty’s Government announced that:
New measures to support electric vehicle drivers from the government’s Plan for Drivers have launched today, including grants for schools, cash for councils and new proposals to boost chargepoint numbers.
Technology and Decarbonisation Minister, Anthony Browne, will launch support for greener schools in Nottinghamshire today, with a new grant providing up to 75% of the cost to buy and install chargepoints, up to £2,500 per socket, up from the previous £350.
Paid for by the Department for Transport, the grant forms part of the Workplace Charging Scheme and is available for state-funded schools, colleges, nurseries and academies to boost the chargepoint facilities for staff and visitors. This could also help schools to generate revenue by making their chargepoints available to the public.
The school’s grant is for state-funded schools and education institutions, which must have dedicated off-street parking facilities – applications can be made online.
Whilst I feel sure that members of school staff who drive an electric vehicle would love to be able to charge up their EV whilst at work, it’s not immediately obvious to me that local schools would welcome paying customers passing through West Devon en route from up country to the North Cornwall coast. Here is a brief extract from the Department for Education’s very own “Statutory guidance for schools and colleges on safeguarding children”:
However, what if the school and/or their EV driving staff could instead get paid for helping to support the local electricity distribution grid?
From my admittedly not entirely neutral perspective, adding V2S (electric vehicle-to-school) under the V2x umbrella makes a whole lot of educational and environmental sense.
Suddenly it might make cold hard financial sense too!
Having finally elicited a comment from the Department for Education on Friday afternoon, it seems they are of the opinion that the new initiative will allow at least some “schools to generate revenue by making their chargepoints available to the public”. A quick telephone poll of a couple of local schools suggested otherwise to me, but assuming that the DfE are correct the press release raises some further questions, in my mind at least.
If a charging station installed in a school car park is selling electricity to the public at large then it will need to include a certified meter for each socket, which will increase the up front cost compared to a standard “domestic” charger. Also there will need to be software installed somewhere or other to read those meters and then bill the paying customers. Who is going to pay for that? Will there be a Government grant to help?
Using the locally pertinent example mentioned above, a passing tourist with a nearly flat traction battery would presumably want to to charge reasonably rapidly. By and large such devices cost a lot more than £2,500 per socket. Will there be a Government grant for “rapid charging” equipment in school car parks?
On the other hand if a local resident parked their electric vehicle in a school car park for an hour or two in order to play badminton in the school sports hall one evening a week, why would they pay the school to charge their EV there when they’ll be back home by bed time where they can charge at the cheapest available rates?
So many questions, and thus far so few answers![Update – February 15th]
In response to my questions just above I have received some further backgound information from the Department for Transport.
In summary they suggest that the primary use case envisaged by the DfT for third party usage of charging points located on school property is fast (7 kW) charging for urban residents without ready access to home or on-street parking. Which makes sense as far as it goes, but raises additional questions.
1) The DfT’s backgrounder suggests that schools will be expected to fund “billing software” themselves.
2) It seems to me that the “safeguarding” of school sites and pupils is likely to be a bigger problem in “urban” areas than in “rural” ones. However I haven’t lived in a city for many a decade, so my own intuition in such matters may well be similarly out of date!
To be continued…