Many ‘Roads to Zero’: Local authorities can reap the rewards of the electric vehicle transition

An artist's impression of a Pivot Power battery site


By Martin Cole, Head of Planning at Pivot Power

We are in the midst of a public health crisis. In every town, city and even some of our leafy green villages the public sector is grappling with escalating issues caused by poor air quality. There are 40,000 premature deaths each year in UK urban areas alone and asthma is now affecting 1 in 5 households. However, the technology required to improve, and even save, lives is readily available.

The electrification of transport is a powerful lever for reducing local pollution levels, whilst also contributing to our national climate change targets, and offers opportunities for Local Authority investment in infrastructure assets which can provide healthy and growing long-term revenues.

Pivot Power has been established to decarbonise both our energy and our transport systems. We will be connecting huge lithium-ion batteries directly to National Grid substations in 45 locations across England and Wales.

The energy they store will be used at our electric vehicle charging ‘SuperHubs’ – 100-bay (or more) centres where drivers will be able to pause for a bite to eat and recharge their car by up to 80% in under 30 minutes. We can also take this power to nearby locations where there is potential for installing additional mass charging capability at bus depots, Park & Rides, retail car parks, corporate HQs and logistics fleet hubs.

Location is everything. By positioning the batteries directly at National Grid substations on the transmission network (rather than further down the line at on the local network) energy can be purchased and stored at a lower cost. Imagine buying a product ‘wholesale’ at source instead of from an expensive retailer. These cost savings will then be passed on to EV owners who will be able to charge at affordable prices.

Early and ongoing collaboration with Local Planning Authorities has resulted in five battery sites at Nursling, Harker, Norwich, Taunton and Braintree receiving planning consent to date since the first application was submitted in May 2018. This rapid progress is in large part down to the mutual benefits our world-leading plan shares with all partners.

We set out to help local authorities deliver on their economic development objectives whilst ensuring that our proposals respect the local environment.

So how can a local authority play a part in this revolution?

As a land owner – We will be looking for land to locate the new SuperHubs. If the Local Authority has suitable land for this purpose, or for the creation of new fleet-charging locations (bus depots, Park & Rides), these could become valuable sources of revenue.

As a public service provider – A Local Authority may wish to lead the local push to transport electrification, converting its own vehicle fleets (cars, vans, refuse trucks) and creating the charging infrastructure it requires.

As a policy maker – Once it has established a strong network of local EV charging, a Local Authority can push harder on zero emission zones for the city centres, and mandate a quicker transition to electric buses and taxis.

As an investor – Pivot Power will be building core, strategic assets for the UK’s future. As our plans progress, there will be opportunities for co-investment in both the batteries and the EV chargers as a means of securing long-term revenues into the public purse.

The direction of travel is clear: “By harnessing the potential of energy storage […] we have an opportunity to upgrade to one of the most efficient, productive energy systems in the world”.[1] But instead of one ‘Road to Zero’ for zero-carbon transport, we see many roads ahead of us which will, together, successfully meet the UK’s objectives.

For this reason, Pivot Power is looking to collaborate with Local Authorities, designing and installing appropriate infrastructure which catalyses local EV uptake, improves local air quality and establishes reliable future revenue streams, setting an example for other towns to follow.


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