The last few years have proved that governments aren’t qualified to predict the future, especially when it comes to technology.  When they take a stake in something, they usually back the wrong horse.
During the 1960’s and ‘70’s, Britain developed Advanced Gas-Cooled (AGR) nuclear reactors while other countries built power plants based on Boiling Water or Pressurised Water reactors. The AGR concept was more sophisticated, but the reactors were fiercely complex and as a result extremely expensive.  In Jonathan Glancey’s introduction to a book about Dungeness power station, he posits that AGR reactors were, at that point, the most complex machines every devised by man – even more so than Concorde or the Apollo spacecraft.
In the early 1980’s, the UK government backed INMOS to develop microchips called “transputers”, which it’s acknowledged were about 30 years ahead of their time, but never quite caught on.  Their factory in Newport, Wales is still going and is currently caught in a controversy about Chinese ownership and proprietary knowledge.
Recently, Ferguson Marine’s dual-fuel ferries have made the news for all the wrong reasons. CMAL apparently insisted on their propulsion system being fed by either gas oil (diesel) or liquified natural gas, but the shipyard has struggled to make this hybrid technology work in practice.  As with nuclear power plants and microchips, their heart was in the right place, but politicians and civil servants think and work in a different way to scientists and industrialists.
The latest eye-opener appears in Section 7.2 of the June 2023 edition of the Technical Standards, which were published recently.  This mandates that every Scottish newbuild, or house with on-site parking which is undergoing major renovation, should be fitted with a 7kW electric car charger.  Every flat with parking inside its curtilage should be provided with something similar.  There are some caveats about costs and enabling infrastructure.
Cars have defined the shape of our cities, from the Radburn Layout to out-of-town retail parks.  Accommodating cars also influences the shape of individual buildings, from inner city basements incorporating Wöhr Parklifts, to carports and double garages in the suburbs.  There are 25 million homes in the UK, of which around 5.5 million are flats or maisonettes.  Give or take, that means there are around 20 million houses, most of which would need to be retrofitted with chargers if electric cars are adopted by the mass market.

Whether or not you think electric cars are a good thing, many industry experts feel that electric power may be a stepping stone en route from petrol and diesel to more truly sustainable fuels. Given the high cost of electric cars, the issues with range and finding chargers that are unoccupied and actually work, plus the fact that some of the ingredients of modern batteries come from unsustainable sources, battery electric using current technology isn’t ideal. 

I first came across electric cars in reasonable numbers when I visited Bergen ten years ago: I was amazed to find that all the taxis were Teslas, which at that point seemed futuristic but also unaffordable.  Today, there are alternatives.  It looks like buses will evolve directly from the current diesel-electric hybrids to hydrogen fuel cell power – there are already a number of hydrogen buses running in Aberdeen.  JCB have begun to build excavators with hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines, and shortly the first few jet aircraft will be converted from burning kerosene to synthetic fuels.
By comparison to those 20 million or so houses, there are around 8000 filling stations in the UK.  It seems logical to convert these petrol/ diesel stations to hydrogen incrementally, as demand increases, and that’s bound to be easier, cheaper and faster than fitting 7kW chargers to every house.  Yet that’s what’s being suggested, with the Scottish Government enacting the fitting of chargers in the Building Regulations, and the UK Government insisting that the sale of new petrol cars will be phased out by 2030.
For architects, the charger mandate means a few things.  It fixes the parking place so that the car becomes an immovable object, rather than something that can be tucked out of sight.  It increases the house’s electrical load, and with fast chargers that probably means you’ll need a three-phase supply.  We already know from a couple of current projects that the power infrastructure isn’t adequate to cope with demand, and chargers won’t be futureproof when future cars are inevitably developed to new and different standards. 
History teaches us that by the time a reasonable number of houses and flats have been built or renovated to include a car charger, the world may have moved on – perhaps to synthetic fuels and hydrogen fuel cells. What we could be doing meantime is NOT buying cars; but for those of us who need them, perhaps we could keep using older cars for a while longer.

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