Kevin Welstead is the EV Sector Director SSE Energy Solutions (Distributed Energy). He is an experienced senior leader with 30 years of experience in the energy, utility and contracting environment.
He presently has the responsibility for developing and delivering large scale strategic opportunities in the business-to-business (B2B), electric vehicle, high voltage, smart grid and portable power space.
EDs: You’ve been the electric vehicle lead at SSE, one of the UK’s big six energy companies, for over three and half years now. What led you to want to work in this sector?
I’ve been at SSE for just over 30 years now and my time here includes working in various different parts of the company including our Networks division. How we power our society is always going to be one of the most interesting challenges you can have in a job and SSE is no different.
The increasing focus on decarbonising our society makes this an even more interesting place to work and it’s great that what I do in helping get more EVs on the roads is helping to save the planet.
EDs: Which electric car do you drive?
We have placed an order on a Mercedes EQC which we will get in 2022 and we are also looking at an electric Porsche Taycan.
EDs: As someone who works for an energy company that recently announced a £12.5 billion investment plan to accelerate net zero, what do you see as the near future for green energy powering electric cars?
Green tariffs are a vital part of helping people to make the switch to EVs and at SSE Energy Solutions we offer both the infrastructure and the green tariffs to give customers total peace of mind that they are being 100 percent sustainable.
We can provide 100 percent renewable electricity from SSE’s own UK wind farms and hydro plants, and also help companies save money by charging EVs for less with off-peak electricity during the night, evenings or at weekends.
EDs: Where do you see the future of charging infrastructure heading?
We need to see a ramping up of the pace when it comes to charging infrastructure. A total of 108,205 new electric cars were registered in the UK in 2020 which is up 185 percent from the previous year. And with the UK ending sales of all new diesel and petrol cars and vans in 2030, EV sales are set to soar.
We need to see all parts of the EV jigsaw being catered for. That includes making sure we are providing solutions for taxis and fleets and of course private individuals who might not have access to on-street charging in urban conurbations.
The other aspect will be rural areas which we can’t leave out of the EV equation. We need a joined-up approach from national and local government as well as companies like SSE Energy Solutions playing their part.
EDs: What new ideas are you personally working on to speed up the emobility transition?
One idea we are hoping to bring into the public eye in 2022 is our Community Hub concept. We have sites around the London area that could unlock a network of charging hubs for fleet, taxi and local residents to benefit from and these are built in places where they are needed the most.
These hubs have the capability to provide the mass rollout of EV charging that London is crying out for as more and more consumers switch to EV. Space in the capital to build charging hubs is like gold dust but we can build a network that could one charge a tenth of all EVs in London.
Once we get these established we hope to develop the concept across the UK so my message is if you have land and want to be part of the EV revolution talk to us.
EDs: When do you think electric cars will become ‘the go-to car of choice’ for UK consumers?
I think that is closing in fast. If I was a betting man I’d say around 2025. All recent consumer trends show that EV registrations have grown by 160 percent and that is taking into account all the issues caused by Covid-19 and Brexit.
EDs: What excites you most about an emobility near future?
Everything about it. Above all, it signals the biggest change in the way we get about since we ditched the horse and carriage in favour of the combustion engine. We’ve got to get people excited about the transition to EVs and the benefits to the environment of getting rid of petrol and diesel cars. I think being part of the solution to one of the most pressing challenges facing our planet is an exciting place to be.