En­er­gis­ing tourism with A9 elec­tric high­way plan

Trans­port: Plan to in­stal charg­ing points along length of road

The Press and Journal (Highlands & Islands) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEN­NIFER MCKIERNAN WEST­MIN­STER RE­PORTER

Plans to cre­ate Scot­land’s first elec­tric high­way along the A9 are es­sen­tial for the tourism in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to en­ergy min­is­ter Paul Wheel­house. First Min­is­ter Nicola Stur­geon un­veiled the vi­sion for Scot­land’s long­est road in her pro­gramme for gov­ern­ment ear­lier this month.

Plans to cre­ate Scot­land’s first elec­tric high­way along the A9 are es­sen­tial for the tourism in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to en­ergy min­is­ter Paul Wheel­house.

First Min­is­ter Nicola Stur­geon un­veiled the vi­sion for Scot­land’s long­est road in her pro­gramme for gov­ern­ment ear­lier this month.

The road will have charg­ing points in­stalled along its length from cen­tral Scot­land, through In­ver­ness and up to Scrab­ster Har­bour in the far north.

Mr Wheel­house said the aim was to demon­strate that elec­tric ve­hi­cles of­fer im­por­tant ad­van­tages to mo­torists in ru­ral, as well as ur­ban Scot­land.

But he said the plans would also sup­port the tourism in­dus­try, which has a grow­ing need to cater to vis­i­tors in­creas­ingly us­ing elec­tric cars.

He said: “The places around the A9 are very de­pen­dent on tourism.

“The Euro­pean Union is switch­ing over to elec­tric cars, and we are see­ing this in large num­bers in coun­tries like Ger­many and Nor­way.

“Elec­tric high­ways are some­thing very nec­es­sary, not just iso­lated to Scot­land but be­com­ing a global need, and we want Scot­land to be able to re­spond to that need.”

Nor­way is cur­rently lead­ing the way in elec­tric ve­hi­cles, with more than 40% of new ve­hi­cles reg­is­tered now elec­tric.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment wants to keep pace and plans to ex­pand Scot­land’s elec­tric charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture right across ur­ban, ru­ral and do­mes­tic ar­eas be­tween now and 2022. Ms Stur­geon has also pledged fi­nan­cial sup­port for lo­cal so­lu­tions and small-scale re­search into chal­lenges sur­round­ing charge points, par­tic­u­larly in do­mes­tic ten­e­ment prop­er­ties.

Scot­land has more than 1,800 charge points – around 15% of the UK to­tal and the high­est of any UK re­gion, and the next step is to get a net­work of rapid charg­ing points.

Mr Wheel­house ad­mit­ted the charg­ing points could be ex­pen­sive but the cost was due to the tech­nol­ogy needed to al­low rapid charg­ing.

He said: “There are lower-cost op­tions but we need very in­ten­sive bursts of elec­tric­ity so we need to en­sure the con­nec­tion is suf­fi­ciently high band­width so it doesn’t over­load the lo­cal en­ergy grid.

“We’re mov­ing to­wards higher mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion so the public will start to see more and more charg­ers be­ing put in houses, of­fices and shops.

“Th­ese are the lower cost type be­cause they charge overnight so don’t need as much en­ergy all at once.”

Pho­to­graph by Kami Thom­son

LOOK­ING AHEAD: Min­is­ter for Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and En­ergy, Paul Wheel­house an­nounced plans for the A9.

Elec­tric charg­ing points will be in­stalled along the road

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