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Blog Post 17 December 2020

Perfecting your On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme application

When it comes to owning an electric vehicle (EV), one of the most important factors to consider is how and where to charge your vehicle. In the UK, a lack of charging infrastructure is proving to be a major barrier to the uptake of EVs, which is crucial in achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

To address this issue, the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) created the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) for local authorities in 2017.

Here, we’ll provide you with all the key information you need before submitting an ORCS application. We’ll also share some top tips from local authorities who have already applied for funding.

What is the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme?

The On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme is a funding source for local authorities to increase the availability of plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure for residents with no access to off-street parking. The funding available is for 75% of the capital costs of procuring and installing a chargepoint up to a maximum of £6,500.

The scheme is open to all local authorities in the UK who have the support from the relevant Highway’s Authority.

Why is the scheme important?

In many parts of the UK, off-street parking is unavailable to most residents, especially for those living in urban areas. In fact, it is estimated that a third of households in England alone have no access to off-street parking. This means that potential electric vehicle owners are unable to charge their vehicles.

By installing on-street chargepoints, residents can enjoy the convenience and value of charging their plug-in vehicles at home. Funding from the scheme can also encourage uptake of privately owned electric vehicles, reducing carbon emissions and improving local air quality.

What does the funding cover?

In May 2020, as part of the UK Government’s boost to green transport following the Covid-19 pandemic, funding for ORCS was doubled to £20 million. Delivered on a match funding basis, OZEV will pay 75% upfront of a successful local authority bid for procuring and installing a chargepoint, while the remaining 25% needs to be funded from other sources. This may include chargepoint providers or other grant funding.

Some areas of the UK require an extra level of support when it comes to electrical capacity and grid connections, so applications up to £7,500 per chargepoint will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. OZEV will also consider applications for chargepoints located in car parks owned by local authorities if the application criteria outlined in OZEV’s guidance document is met.

What is Energy Saving Trust’s role in the scheme?

Energy Saving Trust administer ORCS on behalf of the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, formerly known as the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV). We provide support for local authorities all the way from initial contact through to receipt of the grant. Along the way, we can offer local authorities free and impartial advice and we can even review potential sites against eligibility criteria.

Top tips from local authorities

Coventry City Council

Did you know that Coventry has the third largest network of electric vehicle chargepoints in any city outside London?

Since 2018, Coventry City Council (CCC) have secured over £1 million of ORCS funding to deliver 198 chargepoints in the borough, with a further 100 chargepoint installations in progress. Having already applied for ORCS funding in five separate phases, CCC have considerable experience in preparing and submitting a successful application and have shared their top tips on applying for funding.

  • Do your homework

By conducting research into chargepoint locations across the city, CCC were able to identify some key considerations before preparing their first ORCS application. The council found that creating charging infrastructure zones (similar to resident parking zones) was more acceptable to residents, as they were very protective of parking space outside their homes. Ensuring that footpath widths are maintained for wheelchairs and pushchairs can be a quick win from the outset. CCC also found that using lighting columns as a power source can help you avoid additional costs.

  • Early engagement with your distribution network operator

As soon as chargepoint locations are identified in your area, make sure you’re engaging with your local distribution network operator (DNO). One of the learnings CCC found from phase one came following the installation of their chargepoints, after they spoke to their local DNO and discovered some earthing issues. This meant that CCC needed to carry out retrospective work at an additional cost.

CCC were able to mitigate this issue in the second phase of funding though early consultation with their local DNO.

  • Arrange drop in sessions

Drop in sessions provided a great opportunity for residents who were interested in CCC’s plans to ask officers questions on a one-to-one basis. The sessions can help iron out any issues that locals might have with your chargepoint proposals.

  • Use universal EV foundation

Using universal EV foundation, such as NAL sockets, will avoid any unnecessary costs and disruption when re-tendering for new chargepoint operators (CPOs).

South Tyneside Council and London Borough of Wandsworth

After receiving a grant from the ORCS pot of funding, South Tyneside Council (STC) have successfully managed to grow their local electric vehicle charging network by over 100% in the last three financial years, while the London Borough of Wandsworth has one of the largest chargepoint networks in the UK. Here are their top tips on applying for ORCS funding.

  • Understand your EV network

Knowing what you want to achieve from your ORCS application and what the vision is for your local authority is key. Understanding this early in the process helps to articulate a successful bid. Try to identify and confirm as many costs as possible. It’s possible that your local power company may have tools or helpful engineers that can quickly identify the costs for you.

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare

Preparatory work needs to be completed to identify demand. Wandsworth found that an online platform where people can express their interest was useful, and early discussions with different CPOs was necessary so officers can understand the market.

  • Be patient

If we respond with questions or ask for clarification, it is to ensure that your application form is the strongest it can possibly be.

  • Remember, installing chargepoint units is a positive step forward

In addition to doubling the size of their chargepoint network, STC are penetrating other areas of the borough that may not otherwise have been targeted using just local resources. The match funding of up to 75% has helped release local funding that can be used to deliver other sustainable and active travel projects in the area. Collectively, the council have been able to deliver more for the benefit of the residents of South Tyneside.

  • Maintain your chargepoints and learn from their performance

Like other forms of infrastructure, it is paramount that when applying for ORCS funding you understand how your chargepoints will be maintained and financed in the medium to longer term. Otherwise, it’s possible they could fail, which could bring reputational risk to your local authority.

When reviewing the performance of your units, be prepared to learn from how they perform. South Tyneside found that units which seemed to be perfectly located on paper have been outperformed by other sites that are more peripheral by comparison. This should influence your site selection if you decide to submit future bids.

The UK is home to a well-connected public chargepoint network. While this is something to be proud of, it is also a motivator to deliver additional charging units for residents. Following the recent UK Government announcement that sales of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be phased out by 2030, ensuring that residents who own or are considering switching to an electric vehicle have the right facilities to use their EV is as important as ever.

To find out more about the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, please visit our webpage. Or if you have any questions, get in touch with our experts by emailing us at [email protected].