Case study - Project PACE drives electric vehicle charge point growth and efficiencies


The widespread roll-out of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points is essential to meeting the Scottish Government’s net zero and carbon reduction targets. The availability of public charging infrastructure will encourage car users to switch to zero emission vehicles with greater confidence.

Project PACE was formed to trial the approach of an electricity network provider leading on the planning and installation of public EV charge points at a regional scale.

The project received £5.3million of Scottish Government funding, with oversight from Transport Scotland. It was led by SP Energy Networks, who also contributed funding primarily through its Green Economy Fund, and was facilitated by North Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Council.

The Challenge

Two critical issues in the roll-out of public EV charge points is identifying suitable sites and the time it can take for their installation. This is influenced by a range of factors which can include:

  • location of site and suitability for the community
  • potential site use conflicts
  • ease of connection to the electricity grid
  • cost
  • planning permission
  • environmental considerations
  • land rights

With a complex mix of factors to get right, identifying suitable locations and seeing these through to completion can be a major challenge.

The project took place across Lanarkshire, targeting areas and communities where the commercial market has not yet delivered and was unlikely to in the short to medium term.  Lanarkshire also represents a large and diverse area of Scotland with a mixture of urban and rural landscapes.

The Solution

The first phase of the project involved a sophisticated site selection study carried out by SP Energy Networks which focused upon car parks owned by North Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Council. The second phase of the project involved installing public EV charge points on a short-list of optimal sites.

SP Energy Networks used its extensive knowledge of its electricity network and customers and worked with local stakeholders to identify the best locations.

The first long list consisted of 110 candidate sites. There was an initial screening based on practical factors such as availability of space, land ownership and environmental restrictions. Subsequent discussions with local authorities also helped to refine the list of sites, for example, based on how close candidate sites were to each other.

Further stages included agreeing general terms and conditions for all sites with the local authorities up front, specifying equipment that could be installed to avoid lengthy planning applications and ultimately processing connection applications for agreed sites in batches. This ultimately led to a shortlist of 44 sites for locating EV charging hubs.

On the electricity network itself, there was network analysis to ensure chargers could be installed at a suitable cost and to determine the best number and type of chargers for each site.

The Result

By choosing charging locations that make effective use of the existing electricity network, SP Energy Networks estimated potential savings of between £30,000 and £60,000 in electricity grid connections for each new location. This equated to potential savings of between £1.3million to £2.6million across all the planned sites.

SP Energy Networks estimates that using the same site selection approach across other regions could save £26million in Scotland and £310million across the UK.

The first EV charging hub was opened in August 2020. With a programme of rapid deployment all 44 EV charging hubs were completed by August 2021 resulting in additional 167 public charge points being added to the ChargePlace Scotland Network. The chargers have been used over 50,000 times since the first charger was installed.

More information and contacts

SP Energy Networks – Project PACE
Transport Scotland - Mission Zero

Please note that this case study is only a brief summary of this project and is intended to be accessible by a general audience. As such, some technical aspects will have been simplified. For full details of the project please refer to the sources.