A £70m pilot scheme, launched today (6 December) at COP28, aims to power up motorway service areas to pave the way for ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargepoints.

EV van charging


The move comes along with the launch of a ten-week consultation which is seeking views from a range of stakeholders including chargepoint operators, motorway service area operators, and electricity suppliers, on where chargers are needed most and how best to design the government’s Rapid Charging Fund.

Speaking on COP28 Transport Day in Dubai, Transport Secretary Mark Harper laid out plans for up to ten trial sites in England with boosted electrical network capacity – ensuring electricity network capacity is future-proofed for at least ten years, to 2035.

The trial is backed by the Government’s Rapid Charging Fund (RCF) which has been set up to help motorway and major A road service area operators prepare the network for 100% zero emissions vehicles.

The RCF will cover a portion of the costs of upgrading the electricity grid at motorway service areas in a bid to incentivise the private sector to continue to expand the charging network and give consumers greater confidence to choose EVs.

Harper said:“This government is on the side of drivers and working with the private sector to provide robust chargepoint infrastructure is part of our Plan for Drivers, with today’s announcement paving the way for more ultra-rapid chargepoints.

“This £70m pilot scheme is the starting point and sends a message to consumers and industry that we are investing wisely and rapidly to grow the future of transport in the UK.”

Technology and decarbonisation minister Anthony Browne added: “This is an important next step in our journey to net zero, and demonstrates the government’s commitment to help the private sector expand our charging network.The scheme follows our world-leading zero emission vehicle mandate, meaning we are truly supporting drivers and industry in making the switch to electric.”

The trial aims to set in motion the roll out a longer-distance charging network to support drivers and to accelerate future EV purchases. DfT said the pilot, which is being delivered by National Highways, will help gather evidence to inform the design of a full fund.

Yesterday (5 December) also saw the launch of the world-first Global ZEV Transition Roadmap, designed to improve understanding and accessibility around the international push to de-carbonise road travel, and to more clearly lay out the financing available to developing economies and new markets. It commits to an annual update at future COP events, helping to map the transition to cleaner travel on a global scale and ensure no country is left behind.

It comes in the same week that the House of Commons agreed the Zero Emmission Vehicle Mandate, setting out the percentage of new zero emission cars and vans manufacturers will be required to produce each year up to 2030. 

COP28 UAE takes place from 30 November to 12 December 2023 at Expo City in Dubai. It is a yearly conference of global leaders to negotiate and agree action on how to tackle climate change, limit emissions and halt global warming.