Smart grid project helps accelerate move towards net zero

Published: 20th April 2023

We have taken an important step forward in realising our strategic net zero policies with the completion of a significant project which will accelerate the decarbonisation of our vehicle fleet

The smart grid project has seen us increase our electric vehicle charging (EVC) capacity with the installation of 64 more charging points across our Newtown St Boswells offices and main depot building.

The new infrastructure will reduce our reliance on petrol and diesel operated vehicles by increasing the speed at which they can replace these with electric models.

Current fleet

Currently our fleet has 60 electric vehicles with another 19 due to be delivered and deployed across the fleet later this year. By 2024, we expect to have replaced 45% of all sub-3.5 tonne vehicles used with electric models.

By doing so, we will reduce our overall emissions in working towards our goals of reaching net zero by 2045, a target that was outlined in the Climate Change Route Map.

Also included as part of the smart grid project was the installation of solar panelling across the Old School Building and the vehicle maintenance workshop to support the new chargers.

The acceleration towards more sustainable technologies has been made possible through over £470k of funding from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP), which aims to support Scotland's transition to a low-carbon economy.

As well as making improvements to our own sustainable infrastructure, further funding from the UK Community Renewal Fund and Transport Scotland has enabled the Council to develop an EV Charging Expansion Plan.

This will outline an expansion of public EV charge points across the region to meet expected growth in demand. The Plan will be considered by Council later in 2023 and if approved will see the investment commence in early 2024.

Councillor Jenny Linehan, Executive Member for Environment and Transport

“As a Council we are committed to leading by example and delivering on important policies for the betterment of the Scottish Borders and future generations.

“Achieving net zero and tackling climate change is one of our highest priorities and I am pleased that with the completion of this project a major operational area within SBC is becoming much more sustainable.

“The scale and rural nature of the Scottish Borders means we need a bigger fleet to deliver services across the region, so by investing in long-term sustainable technologies now and accelerating the transition towards electric, we can reduce our overall emissions and work towards achieving net zero by 2045.

“Now that we have the necessary charging infrastructure in place, we can sustain a rapid increase in the amount of electric vehicles in our fleet that was not possible before.

Kevin Stewart, Minister for Transport for the Scottish Government

“I am delighted to see Scottish Borders Council delivering a project that will have such a positive impact on their ability to decarbonise their fleet and then provide the renewable energy to power it. 

“Over the past decade, the Scottish Government has provided over £70 million to help public bodies to make the move towards zero emission vehicles. As part of our Mission Zero for transport, this type of ambition is exactly what we need to see over the coming decade to make our net zero ambitions a reality.”