Orkney’s Electric Vehicle drivers asked -What next?

The Orkney Renewable Energy Forum (OREF) is asking for the views of EV drivers to inform the forthcoming refresh of the Orkney EV Strategy.

‘OREF wrote the last version back in 2017 when there were barely 100 EVs in the county’ said OREF Chair Neil Kermode. ‘We set out a challenging target of getting 1000 EVs on the road by 2023.’ The latest figures from ReFLEX show that there are probably over 600 EV in Orkney now and so the county is well on track to get to 1000. The question is what next?

‘Back in 2017 it was down to some enthusiasts trying to find ways to make more use of locally generated energy’ explained Neil, ‘Now it feels as though some sort of tipping point has been reached and the move away from fossil fuelled vehicles is picking up pace. We need to be ready to make the most of the opportunities this creates for everybody in Orkney.’

Drivers are being asked their views on a variety of topics that were in the last Strategy and what new items need to be added to the list of things to do.

OREF is proud of the fact that as a result of the earlier Strategy it persuaded OIC to charge EV drivers to pay for their electricity. The first gathering of EV drivers were adamant that it was wrong that the public was paying for their fuel at the public chargers. ‘We didn’t expect OIC to pay for petrol to run our cars, so why were they paying for our electricity?’ remembers Neil. ‘At the time Transport Scotland was advising against charging, but local drivers felt the council had other things to do with our money.’ Many councils have now followed Orkney’s lead and Orkney has one of the highest proportions of EVs in Scotland and has the highest number of RAPID public chargers per head of population in the UK.

Since 2017 when the last Strategy was written a lot has changed. There are now over 75 different EV models to choose from and there is to be a UK ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Scotland wants to make new fossil fuelled vehicles unnecessary by 2030 and the Council along with all the public sector are required to get rid of fossil fuelled vehicles from their road fleet by 2025.

However the biggest single change will be in how people fuel their cars. Most people actually charge at home and generally overnight,. Already some new houses are being built with EV chargers as standard and with the range of most new EVs being over 250 miles it means that cars will generally start their day fully fuelled and get home ¾ full so a trip to the public charger will be a rare outing for many. But of course there are many cars parked on the streets and in car parks at night because the narrow streets of some towns and villages don’t lend themselves to parking outside and cable running everywhere. A solution is going to need to be found to that.

So what might we expect to see in the coming five years. ‘We believe we should be getting ready for another 5000 EVs and that will involve changes across the county’ explained Neil. Tourism will be a prime candidate because we need to be ready to welcome tourists who will drive an EV at home. They will either bring it with them on holiday, or will expect to rent one here; they are not going to want to go back to a smelly old petrol or diesel ‘smoke dragger’ so we need to be ready to serve their needs. But the question remains ‘What next?’

The online event will take place on Tuesday January 18th from 19:00-21:00. If interested please contact [email protected] for a link to the event.