Skip to main content
Blog Post 29 July 2021

Leading the way on clean, green transport

As a major contributor to the UK’s CO2 emissions, transport is a key focus for tackling the climate emergency. Energy Saving Trust’s holistic approach targets the sector as a whole

To reduce emissions from transport, change is needed at every level. Energy Saving Trust supports businesses and individuals to make more sustainable travel choices, whether that’s encouraging electric vehicle uptake or getting more people walking and cycling.

Better on-street charging options are central to making electric vehicles a more realistic proposition for people who don’t have access to off-street parking. Funded by the Department for Transport’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) and administered by Energy Saving Trust, the UK-wide On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme gives local authorities grants to install charging infrastructure.

In 2020-21, £20m of funding was available. The scheme locates chargepoints in streets and car parks which residents use overnight, to give an experience akin to home charging in terms of cost and convenience.

Rachel Swiatek, programme manager, said: “We review applications for grant funding of up to 75 per cent of capital costs relating to procurement and installation, guiding local authorities through several rounds of feedback up to the point of acceptance by OZEV.”

Interest in the scheme is growing, with 48 successful applications in 2019-20, and 76 in 2020-21, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19. Last year, 2,594 chargepoints were proposed, and Energy Saving Trust gave application support to 137 local authorities.

As well as increasing availability of chargepoints, innovations in the way chargepoints interact with the grid can make electric vehicles an even smarter choice. In 2020-21 OZEV commissioned Energy Saving Trust to explore how smart charging and energy integration might unlock a wide range of benefits.

“Our report,” says senior programme manager Nick Harvey, “drew on focus groups to explore what an energy integration advice service might look like for people at various levels of electric vehicle engagement. Next we’ll focus on launching a minimum level advice service accessed online.”

Energy Saving Trust is also part of Powerloop, an Innovate UK-funded commercial programme led by Octopus Energy for Business that demonstrates consumer appetite for ‘bundled’ elements like electric vehicles, chargers and special tariffs. Chargers use vehicle-to-grid technology to store electricity in the vehicle and feed it back into the grid during peak hours, helping manage demand.

Says Nick: “Powerloop turns your vehicle into an energy sink that supports the grid at peak times. If you weren’t intent on driving during peak periods you could actually make a saving or a profit by discharging back into the network. It’s a big step forward.”

Electrifying fleets – success starts at the top

The electrification of commercial fleets is another important aspect in decarbonising road transport. More company cars are going electric, helped by excellent tax incentives. Energy Saving Trust is currently focused on helping SMEs and micro-businesses as well as the public sector.

Tim Anderson, group head of transport, explains: “Big fleets tend to have dedicated electric vehicle teams, and they may get help from their supply chain. Smaller businesses don’t attract the same levels of support – so we’re working on a range of measures specifically to boost their electric vehicle uptake.”

Energy Saving Trust is working with government departments, including the Ministry of Defence, HMRC and the Home Office, on electrifying their car fleets. Local authorities and blue light services – fire, ambulance, police – are also getting expert advice on their journeys towards electrification.

For Tim, leadership is the key to success. “There’s a sense that the big players – from government down – need to show the way on electric vehicles. When that happens, you create a market with used vehicles hitting the forecourts. That’s when smaller businesses and consumers benefit.”

And it’s not all about electric vehicles – Energy Saving Trust is also committed to encouraging active travel. In Scotland, two ebike programmes we managed on behalf of the Scottish Government generated huge interest in 2020-21. An interest-free loan scheme for buying a new ebike saw a total of 1,148 applications, 478 during the first lockdown in spring, and 333 over the summer. Over £3.4m went to support over 1,000 people.

A second, grant funded scheme helped public sector bodies and local interest groups make ebikes available to key workers, offering £220,000 in total. Ellie Grebenik, senior programme manager, said: “The scheme gave key workers access to ebikes in order to get to work, leading to lots of good news stories about how active travel helped people during the pandemic.”

Last updated: 29 July 2021