Electric Vehicles - Revive Network, South Gloucestershire Council

The ‘Revive Network’ runs across authorities in the West of England, as a council-owned network with its operation and management completed by Bristol City Council on behalf of all the participating local authorities.

The challenge

The provision of the EV charging network is limited by the commercial value of locations for market suppliers. This may mean that areas of community value and need are not served and will need to wait many years until the market is willing to provide. The West of England (WoE) local authorities (Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, North Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council) were committed to address this challenge, setting up the ‘Revive Network’.

The solution

The ‘Revive Network’ runs across authorities in the WoE, as a council-owned network with its operation and management completed by Bristol City Council on behalf of all the participating local authorities. This ensures the council oversees the maintenance, management and energy retailing responsibilities that go into the EV charge network. This is quite different to elsewhere in the EV market as the Network can look at community-based locations that have less density and commercial value. The Network seeks to blend the profitable locations with non-profitable locations where the use or density may not be high but there is significant social value and the social return is good. The overall requirement is that the Network must pay for itself through this location balance.

The selection of locations is supported by a study that South Gloucestershire Council undertook that identified locations including commercially non-viable sites but high in community value, as well as the national ORCS Funding Bid process that identified locations for EV charging investment. Alongside this, the councils actively encourage community groups and residents to register their interest through the Travel West website which is used by Revive to establish a ‘heat map’ for demand to support decision making for implementing new sites. Using our site selection assessment tools, the council explores numerous factors such as user demand, land ownership and the ease of installation. Once sites are scored and are able to work operationally without significant barriers then it can be taken forward to Revive Network for sign off, which checks how the site fits within the overall model of cost recovery.

The impact

As of April 2022, there were 157 public charging points in South Gloucestershire and 455 charging points across the West of England region.

Over the past two years, South Gloucestershire council have introduced 23 charging points to the public charging network, providing a total 46 Revive EV charging bays in South Gloucestershire. Using various funding sources, the council are seeking to introduce a further 18 charging points and 36 Revive charging bays in the next year. The council continues to explore the opportunities to support sites with high social value irrespective of commercial viability to help ensure equity of access to public charging facilities.

Lessons learned

It can be incredibly challenging to get EV charging schemes off the ground, even where the community has a clear want for it. When it comes to detailed site assessment and provision there are hidden project complexities and concerns that can emerge from the community for the picked locations. It can be difficult for community groups to resource this complexity and expert support and advice may be needed to ensure locations are adequately assessed to enable improved deliverability.

Going forward, EV car clubs are also being explored by South Gloucestershire Council as part of its climate emergency goals. The council remains keen to promote alternatives to private car ownership (such as support for widespread rollout of EV car clubs alongside other forms of shared mobility). The key challenge is in encouraging people to see car travel as a user model with community owned and less individual owned assets. Getting to a valuable local mass of assets and use should support this, and local engagement will be key.