Chargeplace Scotland to be brought under private ownership

Chargeplace Scotland

The government-backed firm could be disbanded as early as this summer

“Unsustainable” for government to operate firm as EV demand rises; network size will double under private ownership

Chargeplace Scotland, the country’s national EV charging provider, is set to be broken up and fall into private ownership as the demand for EVs makes it “unsustainable” for it to continue operating as a publicly funded agency. 

The Scottish government-backed firm could be disbanded as early as this summer, owing to increased demand and a more pressing need to invest in and upgrade the country’s charging network.

Launched in 2010, Chargeplace Scotland is the UK’s fifth largest charging network and operates two-thirds of all the chargers north of the border.

The change in management means that each of the 2500 chargers currently managed by the firm will be put under the control of Scotland’s 32 unitary authorities, which will partner with private firms to manage the infrastructure.

Some small-time operators (ie those with one or two chargers) may remain supported by Chargeplace Scotland “on the back end”. 

Chargeplace Scotland’s infrastructure is presently operated by Swarco, a private firm that won a two-year contract with Transport Scotland in July 2021.

Demand for chargers in Scotland has increased recently. The Scottish Daily Star reported an 8% increase in EV sales between 2021 and 2022, while the BBC has said that 50,000 of the 760,000 UK-registered EVs reside in Scotland.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “To meet our climate-change targets, the pace and scale of investment in the public [charging] network will need to increase over the coming years, and it will be unsustainable for the public sector to deliver this alone.”

They also announced a £60 million public and private investment to double the size of the network to 6000 chargers by 2026.

The network will “be largely financed by the private sector” and funds will be focused on areas of the network “where private investment alone is unviable”.

The investment could also include upgrade works to existing chargers, a quarter of which were found to be faulty in a BBC Disclosure spot check last November. 

Transport Scotland added: “The current Chargeplace Scotland contract has the option to run until mid-2025, and we will continue to evaluate the best long-term approach for managing a seamless transition to the right charging mix to meet our vision for the future of public EV charging.”

It’s anticipated that Transport Scotland will see out the contract in full though a decision is yet to be made.

Source: Autocar

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