On 14 July 2021, the Government published its response to the 2019 consultation proposing new regulations to ensure that EV chargepoints sold or installed in the UK include smart charging functionality. The response was published alongside the decarbonisation plan, aiming to align the UK's transport system, the current largest greenhouse gas emitting sector, with its 2050 net zero target.

The response indicates the introduction of secondary legislation in autumn 2021 to mandate that private chargepoints must be smart and meet minimum device level requirements, a consultation on phase 2 legislation in 2022 to implement a long term solution for electric vehicle charging and further consideration of location and energy data sharing to ensure better network planning.

Although heading in the right direction, the response seems like a small smart step along a long winding road for the emerging chargepoint market. The response states that there are currently around 150,000 chargepoints in the UK, the vast majority non-smart, with smart chargepoints being in early development and deployment. This emerging market needs direction, co-ordination and regulation to minimise the bumps in the road to net zero and deliver an efficient, consumer focused and reliable network system.

The government's focus is on a shift to smart charging, during times when there is plentiful, clean, renewable electricity generation, helping the electricity system meet the extra demand created by EVs and enabling consumers to benefit from cheaper electricity. Smart chargepoints send and receive data, control electricity load, minimise peak demand, allow consumers to set charging preferences remotely through apps without having to manually connect and disconnect, enable a switch in provider and have better cyber security. If this market is allowed to develop without regularisation, the variable standards in chargepoints will result in an ineffective system, unable to efficiently meet the extra demand created by EVs. For all cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040, the system needs to be smart from an early stage: smart chargepoints, smart regularisation and smart delivery.

Whilst a smart step forward on the road to zero, the government's response was published almost a year after it was expected. As the government claims that the benefits of a smarter, more flexible electricity system could be £17-40 billion by 2050, now is the time to put the pedal to the metal, accelerate through the gears and drive the UK into a strong position to decarbonise road transport with an efficient, smart working system.