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45% of commercial and public EV charging units in ChargePlace Scotland network went unused in August 2014

Almost half of the electric vehicle charging units in the ChargePlace Scotland network may be unused from month-to-month, official data suggests, according to an analysis by the RAC Foundation. Figures for August 2014 show that of the 482 units (with 885 sockets) in the network, 217 (45%) were not plugged into at all during that month. (This does not include domestic charge points.) The remaining 265 (55%) were used at least once. ChargePlace Scotland is the initiative behind Scotland’s free charge point network.

EV targets in Scotland
The Committee for Climate Change suggests that at least 5% of the car fleet in Scotland should be electric by 2020 in order to reach “critical mass” for a larger roll out.
This would mean a total of approximately 120,000 electric vehicles with 27,000 new car sales of electric vehicles a year in 2020.
At the end of Q3 2014, the number of licensed vehicles in Scotland which were eligible to receive the plug-in car and van grant was 1,071.

ChargePlace Scotland also offers 100% funding to install a home charging point for electric vehicles. The initiative covers three main areas:

  • Domestic charge points
  • Commercial Workplace charge points
  • Community Planning Partnerships (CPP) & the High Powered Interoperable Network.

Not all the non-domestic charge points in the ChargePlace Scotland network are publicly accessible as they were installed under the commercial workplace scheme. The RAC Foundation analyzed data for both commercial and public charge usage obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from Transport Scotland.

There are now about 1,100 electric cars and vans in Scotland; in August 2014 there were a total of 2,885 individual charging sessions. Of these 2,885 charging sessions, 46% took place in three cities:

  1. City of Edinburgh (494 sessions)
  2. Dundee City (459 sessions)
  3. Glasgow City (365 sessions)

The most heavily used charging unit was at Janet Brougham House, Dundee. It recorded 103 charging sessions in August 2014. However, this location is not a publicly accessible charge point as it is located in a care home.

The next most heavily used locations were Victoria Quays (80 sessions) and Ingliston Park and Ride (61 sessions) in Edinburgh.

The encouraging news is that electric car sales in the UK are at last showing signs of improvement, but we still have a charging network in Scotland that is running below capacity. Part of the reason for installing public charge points is to help drivers overcome their fear of range anxiety but this does not come cheap.

This data also suggests a good proportion of charge points are located on private premises including council sites. This is encouraging as it was always envisaged that fleet operators would lead the way in the electric revolution. Ultimately we hope our analysis will give an indication of where further money should be spent and where extra infrastructure might be needed.

—Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation




This is one of the cases where you have to grit your teeth and hang on.
Also, see which sites are successful and learn from that.
Compared to military spending, this is peanuts. The current cheap oil situation won't last forever (2-3 years most likely) so again, grit your teeth and hope that new cars (the new Leaf for instance) with enough range, will tip the balance.

Scotland has a lot of wind energy and it would be nice to charge the EVs mostly when there was a lot of wind on the grid.
It would take a relatively simple computer weather model and a real time billing system to do it.
Simplest case:
Overnight charging - lets say you can charge in 4 hours and have 8 hours available. Look at the weather and charge in the windiest 4 hours (first, middle or last).
This gets even better if your battery is large and you have a several day capacity, you could look ahead another day / evening.
Once you have opt-in real time billing (say to 1 hour resolution), and a weather model, you can easily do this.


Subsidising charge points is placing a bet that BEV will come to the fore over ICE, HEV and FCV. At least for city car needs it may be the best bet going but I don't see why the bet needs to be placed yet. HEV and even PHEV can develop without the set up of charge points and fosters the development of all the electric ancillaries necessary for BEV. Old reports concluded that you got a bigger environmental benefit for your buck with HEV too - don't know if that is still true.

I'm cynical on the subject. The BEV subsidies only help a few people at the moment, likely to be the same people who are vocal on the subject. Such subsidies will keep them happy and purring. Helping the larger number of unseen HEV owners would not produce such a good PR result.

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