Osprey Charging CEO: “There is no grid problem in the UK”

Ian Johnston, CEO of Osprey Charging, talks about the perceived grid problem on the latest episode of the Everything EV podcast.

Osprey Charging, one of the UK’s leading chargepoint operators, recently announced a £75 million investment for the rollout of 150 rapid charging hubs by 2025.

According to Osprey, the move looks to make range and charging anxiety a thing of the past, with the first due to open this month in Wolverhampton.

Spearheading the project is CEO of Osprey Charging, Ian Johnston, who discussed the project on the latest episode of the Everything EV podcast.

“What it marks really is the fact that we’ve completed level one of EV infrastructure,” Johnston said. “I think what you’ve seen over the last two years is that we’ve moved away from people complaining that there are charges that maybe don’t work or are unreliable or they can’t access with a bank card. I think what you have now are five or six networks that are widely respected as being reliable, great operators trying to do the right thing and delivering a decent service.

“Now it’s about really taking all the lessons and the experience and the quality we’ve got and deploying that in the format that EV drivers want and need going forward. I think what’s been clear from the half million plug in vehicle drivers so far, is that what they want is beyond these hygiene factors of reliability and access, it’s really they want charging sites where they have confidence that they’re going to get on a charger so, we need multiple charges and we need to demystify all the confusion out there about the charge rate for their vehicles. We need to provide the right charge rates in the right sites for the right vehicle. Of course, they want there to be great amenities that would be completely accessible for drivers of all needs and abilities. That really is what you’ll see us doing, so this announcement is redefining what Osprey is to EV drivers and landlords and just building bigger, better sites that are the standard for the future.”

The announcement of the 150 new rapid charging hubs also aligned with concerns regarding the National Grid and its ability to cope with the growing demand of EV drivers.

However, Johnston was quick to dismiss these concerns and insists that, whilst there are some issues that need to be addressed, the lights are not going to go out if we plug in our electric vehicles.

“I think there’s three answers to the grid problem,” Johnston began. “Firstly, are the lights going to go out if we all get home and plug in our EVs at 6pm? No. It’s clear that energy usage is declining on a macro level and the smart technology that’s there and managing your charging times, that is another reason why we shouldn’t be concerned about the lights going out. There’s no macro issue here in the UK.

“Secondly, when people talk about there’s no grid to build this charging infrastructure, what we mean by that is there is grid all around us, but the problem is the grid is in cables underground and we want but the chargers in the right car park. There are legal issues that might prevent us digging up that concrete to get the cable to the site or digging across a dual carriage way roundabout or through a protected site, which means you can’t physically achieve that quick connection, but the power is there, and this is the great thing about electricity versus traditional fuels. Electricity is all around us but it’s about getting that power to the parking bays we want it in.

“The third part where there is a genuine issue. We have this network of fantastic motorway service areas; they are of course in very remote parts of the country. That mean there isn’t this grid electrical infrastructure everywhere that we can just connect into so there is a need to build new substations be 20-50 megawatts substations and they are expensive, you’re talking millions and millions of pounds and that’s where there needs to be some involvement from government. I’m not saying the government should fund it but they either need to organise how that grid is allocated, how it’s funded, how it’s paid back. In most cases when we think about EV infrastructure, we do naturally end up talking about the motorway services first and that’s where there is a grid complication about the scale of what needs to be installed there to give us what we want which is 50, 60, 100 bays of rapid charging.”

The latest episode of the Everything EV podcast is available on all streaming services, so be sure to like and subscribe to get every episode as soon as it’s released.