Harnessing the power of technology to realise an EV revolution in the UK

Cara Naden, Project Manager at Zero Carbon World, explains how electric vehicles will play a crucial role in delivering a low carbon economy.

The climate emergency we face is getting more attention than it ever has before. The increased focus on climate change and mankind’s effect on the world we live in is driving a significant push toward more sustainable living, including energy efficiency, better recycling, a rethink on single use plastics and much more – from both individuals and organisations alike.

Consumers are doing what they can in their own lives, but we’ve seen growing demand and pressure for companies to leverage their technologies and resources to address and mitigate the effects of climate change on a broader scale.

The first place to start is greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, 36 billion tonnes of CO2 is emitted per year, and this continues to increase. To combat the effects of this increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, there needs to be a concerted effort by individuals, organisations, and nations alike to reduce their carbon footprint.

In the UK specifically, the government recently announced a new law, “net zero emissions”, which will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Currently transport emissions make up 34 percent of the UK’s output.

For several years, Electric Vehicles (EVs) have promised a future where transport emissions can be dramatically reduced. Getting there isn’t simple, but we’re committed to making the journey easier.

Ushering in the electric era

A key benefit of EVs is their lower impact on the environment. Limiting the burning of fossil fuels means that no carbon emissions or particulates are released, reducing local pollution and the effects of climate change.

As a result of the growing awareness of the climate emergency, there has been a surge in UK motorists keen to turn to plug-in hybrids or EVs – with more than a third saying their next car will be electric.

But good intentions are being undermined by a lack of charging points and a poor understanding of how they work. Around 40% of UK motorists said a lack of charging points was the biggest barrier to buying an EV or plug-in hybrid sooner – so if we’re to accelerate the take-up of these vehicles, we need to approach it in a different way.

That’s where Zero Carbon World, a UK charity dedicated to decarbonising the UK, comes in – with a proactive, innovative model to help address this issue.

We’ve created ZeroNet, an unrestricted national network that donates free charging stations to businesses or organisations in the hotel, tourist or leisure industry.

Since our founding in 2011, Zero Carbon World is on course to soon donate 1,000 charging stations across the UK, with over 650 currently in operation. ZeroNet is a contributing component to the government’s “UK’s Road to Zero Strategy”, which aims to ensure all new vehicles are zero emission by 2040.

But with the vast majority of EV charging still taking place at home, there is still a long way to go to develop further infrastructure and make more drivers comfortable switching to EVs by being able to recharge in more locations.

We are dedicated to the mission, but to get there we needed our own back-end management technology to boost efficiencies and help us to scale quickly. After all, meeting the targets will only be possible with an efficient, focused approach – something that’s not always associated with charities.

Harnessing technology to create a more sustainable future

In our business, the cost of introducing more charging stations across the country is significant, so we needed an integrated business management platform to ensure all funding donations are used to their maximum potential.

We opted for a cloud-based business platform called NetSuite, which gave us the ability to streamline donor management, increase visibility of charging station supplies and support our expanding network of installation experts.

NetSuite provides a single platform to automate and help streamline key business functions, including supply chain, customer relationship management, inventory management, and integrate applications and enquiries for new charging stations.

It has helped us to increase engagement with our network of supporters, accurately track donations, and streamline the management of third-party installation experts. It helps keep us focused on the measurement and outcomes of our campaigns, something that as many as 71% of non-profits struggle with.

In the charity sector, we are certainly not alone in turning to technology to improve our operations. It is well-known that companies in the sector are constantly required to do more with less, all while having to prove to watchdog agencies and funders that they’re using donations effectively.

Implementing back-office technologies which can help to reduce complexity or improve workforce management processes isn’t just about reducing IT headaches – it’s about giving charities the freedom to focus on their mission, and a platform from which to do so more efficiently than ever before.

In many cases, charities can also use their status to get a better deal. For example, at Zero Carbon World, we benefitted from NetSuite’s Social Impact program, which provides charities and social enterprises with coaching and support from NetSuite employees, as well as discounted licensing.

This helped to get the platform up and running very quickly, so we could get back to our core objective of decarbonising the UK.

The road to the future

The steps society takes to reduce our carbon footprint are now more important than ever. Whether it is limiting your flight travel or switching to EVs – every effort will help, as we look to decarbonise the UK and the wider world.

The work that we, and likeminded charities are doing, is integral to achieving the ambitious and necessary goals that the IPCC report highlighted, requiring governments, businesses and individuals to achieve net zero carbon over the next few decades.

But ambition is not enough – charities and social enterprises leading the charge to a greener future need to be as ruthlessly focused as any other business.

Every pound or dollar raised must be used to the maximum, which means organisations need to manage their operations effectively and cost efficiently. That way, we can focus on meaningful change for a better, and liveable, tomorrow.

If you would like to find out more about Zero Carbon World and donate towards our decarbonising projects, please go to www.zerocarbonworld.org/donate.

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com