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Ban on petrol and diesel car sales from 2040 puts emphasis on updating UK's energy infrastructure, says expert

UK government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 will place a major emphasis on improving the country's energy infrastructure, an expert has said.26 Jul 2017

The move is one of a series of measures aimed at reducing emissions in the UK and is contained in a new air quality plan.

"Our new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill will enable the UK to retain its position as a global leader in the market for electric vehicles," the government said. "This will allow the government to require the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers, and to make it even easier to use electric vehicle chargepoints across the UK."

Nick Shenken of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said "This announcement is fairly consistent with an increasing wave of enthusiasm around electrification of transport – both within and outside of government – but it therefore brings into even sharper focus the need for our network infrastructure to be resilient and flexible enough to cope."

"The announcement of the new air quality plan is one of a number which have taken place in a relatively busy week for related policy announcements affecting the energy sector. I think we will need to see the outputs from those announcements: the support it has announced for battery technologies and its response to the consultation on a smarter and more flexible energy system taken forward in an effective way as the successful implementation of these policies are some of the key enablers to electric transport and therefore our ability to meet the 2040 target."

Earlier this week, the UK government announced that it will invest £246 million in battery technology as part of plans to give homes and businesses more control over their energy use and support new energy technologies.

The announcement, made together with UK energy regulator Ofgem, also contained plans to reform electricity storage regulations to provide clarity on licensing, planning, connections and charging for storage, and enable storage to be located on the same site as renewable energy generators.

Currently electricity storage is not defined in primary legislation, making its regulatory status within the electricity system and planning regimes unclear. The government said it would amend the Electricity Act 1989 and other legislation to explicitly define electricity storage as a distinct subset of generation. In the shorter term, Ofgem said it would consult on a modified generation licence for storage with the aim of it being introduced by summer 2018.