Costs of using public electric vehicle charging points rocket

Barry White

We all know that energy costs are rising, a trend accelerated since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But unless you are an owner of an electrical vehicle, the recent rapid increases in public charging costs may have passed you by. The RAC reports the cost to charge an electric car on a pay-as-you-go basis at a publicly accessible rapid charger had increased by 42% since May to an average of 63.29p per kWh, see: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-63029226 .  That’s cheaper than you will have to pay in Craven’s DC’s Ashfield Car Park were the charge for the Osprey slow chargers is now £1 per kWh for their 7kw EV chargers, whereas at the time of writing the cost to use the rapid charger at The Courtyard on the A65 is only 57p per kWh for their 50kw charger (GeniePoint).

The price increase means if you only use the public network to charge vehicles you will pay around 18p per mile for electricity, as against charging at home which is around 9p per mile for the average-sized car. That is just 1p less per mile for a petrol car, based on driving at an average of 40 miles to the gallon, the motoring group said. The RAC also argue that motorists reliant on public chargers unfairly pay VAT of 20%, compared with only 5% VAT on home energy use, see: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/26/cost-electric-car-charging-point-uk-public-charger-by-42-percent-invasion-ukraine.

It is understood that Osprey’s  price for charging at their charge points through their App continues to be 66p per kWh, less than the PAYG credit/debit card payments rate. They are hopeful of a price reduction for customers in the coming weeks.

On the subject of Russia and Ukraine, in the last episode of ‘The Scramble for Rare Earths: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001cf5r presenter Misha Glenny explores the world of rare metals. In the final episode at 13.45 on Friday 30 September, he sets out how Russia’s ‘interest’ in Ukraine might be partially motivated by the country’s huge mineral deposits. Earlier episodes highlight how a small group of elements (known as rare earths) has replaced natural gas and oil as the critical raw material for this and the next century.

Rare earths comprise of 17 minerals that are indispensable to the manufacturing of smartphones, electric vehicles, military weapons systems, and countless other advanced technologies. Although Africa holds the promise of large, high-grade deposits of these metals for three decades, China has managed to secure mining deals across the African continent with the availability of cheap labour and poor regulations. Currently, the global annual demand for rare earth elements (REEs) is largely met by China see: https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/chinas-scramble-for-africas-rare-earth-elements/

Whether attempts to challenge China’s dominance will succeed remains to be seen.

Meanwhile the lessons of dependency on one supplier with whom relations are unstable brings great risks as we have found out with Europe’s dependency of Russian natural gas (previously around 40% of the EU’s total gas consumption rising to 65% in Germany). After tensions between China and Japan flared up in 2010, China blocked rare earth mineral exports to Tokyo. Tensions between the West and China show no signs of diminishing, over Tibet, the treatment of Uyghur Muslims, and China’s relations with Taiwan. And there is an environmental question to ponder. Mining minerals generates large volumes of toxic and radioactive material see: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/18/the-guardian-view-on-rare-earths-mining-them-cant-cost-the-earth.

The transition to net zero cannot mean replacing a reliance on dirty fossil fuels with a dependence on raw materials, the extraction of which relies on the availability of cheap labour and poor regulations and leaves large tracts of the Earth uninhabitable. So much to think about!

This article was updated on 28 September to include information from Osprey (see third paragraph).

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