Let’s electrify this decade and make real strides to Net Zero

Energy & Low Carbon Industry | Reports | Sponsored

With an increasing drive to create a cleaner future, more electric models hitting the market and new tax incentives, EDF’s Managing Director for Customers, Philippe Commaret, details why 2020 is the year for businesses to get fully behind electric vehicles (EVs).

The start of a new decade is an opportunity to reflect and look forward. The previous decade closed with climate change high on the social and political agenda.

From Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, to the UK legislating to eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050, the end of the last decade spurred a greater emphasis on the steps we can all take to reduce our carbon emissions.

Reaching Net Zero will take a combined effort from all – business, government and society. The energy sector has already made great strides to reduce its emissions. Recent figures from Carbon Brief show that 54% of UK electricity in 2019 came from low-carbon sources.

This is in stark contrast to figures from 2010 when 75% of electricity was generated by fossil fuels. I’m proud to be part of a company that has played a role in this achievement, and is in fact the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity.

Although the job is not yet done in the energy sector, time has come for the same drive to be applied to other sectors, and decarbonising transport is an area where UK businesses can play an important role.

Transport remains a high emission sector. In 2018, it accounted for a third of all UK CO2 emissions and the majority of that was from road transport. It’s clear that a significant reduction in the country’s emissions could be achieved by paying closer attention to the cars we drive. Research we conducted found that the collective carbon footprint of petrol and diesel cars on UK roads is a staggering 14 times what it would be if all those vehicles were to switch to electric by 2030.

‘Range anxiety’, cost and EV charging infrastructure remain cited as reasons for not switching from fuel pump to plug socket, but changes are coming this year that will help alleviate these concerns and hopefully encourage businesses to help push EV ownership in the UK above the current 2% market share. It’s on us to support this positive change and follow the example of organisations like the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Milk and More which have electrified their fleets.

Firstly, the choice of EVs is increasing significantly this year. Manufacturers including VW, BMW, Honda, Ford, Citroen, Peugeot, Vauxhall (and Porsche if your budget stretches that far!) will be releasing new electric car and van models, increasing their suitability for varying personal and business needs. The range of EVs is on the up, and they are also more competitively priced – with the new e-Mini set to be £2,000 cheaper than its petrol equivalent.

Secondly, EVs are cheaper to run and maintain, but tax changes coming in this year will further increase their financial attractiveness. From April 2020, the government will make EVs exempt from company car tax. Company cars can face a benefit-in-kind tax of more than 30% depending on the level of CO2 they emit per kilometre. Rates for EVs will remain low until 2023 – increasing to 1% in April 2021 and 2% in April 2022. This could equal significant savings, potentially in the thousands, for company car drivers and makes this an ideal time to convert your fleet to EVs.

Thirdly, support is there to make your company EV friendly. The UK government’s Workplace Charging Scheme can dramatically reduce the cost of installing charging units in your organisation’s car park. The grant provides up to £500 per socket, up to a maximum of 20 sockets.

Also before March 2023, companies can take of advantage of the 100% first-year allowance to deduct the outstanding cost of installing charge points, minus any grants, from their before tax profits in the year they’re installed.

Your employees will be more likely to switch to an EV if they can be confident they can charge at home and at work. To make charging at home easier, we launched our GoElectric tariff for EVs in June 2019, which offers substantially reduced overnight charge costs along with the option to purchase an at-home charger and lease
an EV.

Combine these collective actions with Government plans announced last year to more than double the number of rapid charging points across the UK by 2024, as well as private sector investment in delivering commercial charging infrastructure, the required support for EVs to thrive should increase.

The last century had the Roaring Twenties, an era of change, technological advances and empowerment. Let’s make the 2020s the decade we make changes to achieve real progress towards Net Zero.

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