Scotland’s national EV charging network, ChargePlace Scotland, is to be broken up and its chargers moved into private ownership as the cost of running the operation becomes “unsustainable”.
The Scottish Government-owned body, which is responsible for around two-thirds of public chargers in the country, could cease to exist by late 2025 as Transport Scotland looks to stimulate private investment in the country’s charging infrastructure.
Created in 2010, it is currently the UK’s fifth-largest charging network and responsible for more than 2,500 charging points. Transport Scotland wants to increase the charging network to 6,000 units by 2026 but says that the speed and scale of investment needed is too great for the public body.
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said the existing network would form the “foundation” for a public charging network “largely financed and delivered by the private sector”.
They told NationalWorld: “Thanks to our early development of the ChargePlace Scotland Network, Scotland now has a greater number of charge points per head of population than any other region of the UK. However, to meet our climate change targets, the pace and scale of investment in the public network will need to increase over the coming years and it will be unsustainable for the public sector to deliver this alone.”
Last year the Scottish Government announced the EV Infrastructure Fund, designed to bring £60 million in private and public funding together to boost the country’s charging network. Transport Scotland said that this would create the conditions to encourage further private investment to meet demand and allow public funds to be spent where private involvement alone was “unviable”.
Although CPS is responsible for managing access and dealing with issues across the network, the chargers are owned by around 450 “hosts”, including local councils, public bodies and businesses who received government funding to install chargers.
Under plans to wind up CPS, these units will become the responsibility of their hosts, who are expected to seek partnerships with private charging networks. It is hoped that this could bring improvements in the maintenance and reliability of chargers after a BBC documentary last year found a quarter of chargers were not working. It has also been suggested that very small “hosts” with only one or two devices may still be supported by CPS as a “back-end” operator.
Transport Scotland insisted that reports the body could cease to exist as early as summer 2023 were wrong and said it intended to see out the contract in full. Swarco currently has the contract to operate CPS for Transport Scotland after taking over the operation in 2021. That deal runs out in summer 2023 but has an option to extend.
The spokesperson 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.”