From the need for new funding mechanisms for mobility infrastructure, to the repurposing of petrol forecourts, cark parks and the disruption of public transport by Mobility as a Service; the future of mobility is set to have a significant impact on infrastructure.
Click on each of the sections below to understand how emerging mobility trends could impact the infrastructure sector in the near, medium and long-term future.
Rethinking infrastructure through the future mobility lens: Future mobility requires a different approach to infrastructure due to increased uncertainty, greater interconnectedness and shorter planning horizons due to faster technology evolution.
This will require the convergence of public and private initiatives, adapting governance and legislation, new value capture models with new investment classes as well as new capabilities. Infrastructure players will also have to be more strategic (rather than operational) – for example mobility could be a mandatory consideration in all new infrastructure business cases.
Repurposing petrol forecourts: As increasing numbers of vehicles move to electric, oil and gas companies are expected to accelerate their investment in repurposing forecourt retail space to accommodate electric vehicle (EV) charging. However, it's uncertain to what extent future EV drivers will use forecourts over home charging.
Investment in telecommunications infrastructure: Future telecommunications solutions will be required to manage the stream of data generated by connected and autonomous vehicles. This may take the form of 5G or other solutions (including vehicle-to-vehicle and roadside Wi-Fi standards) that are being trialled.
Although modern autonomous vehicles are being designed to operate without the need for always-on connections, convergence on a national standard and deployment of country-wide infrastructure will enable better use of connected vehicle applications.
New funding mechanisms for mobility infrastructure investment: Many investments in mobility infrastructure still carry substantial demand risk and do not fit the typical profile for 'infrastructure' investments, creating challenges for ensuring sufficient funding is available to meet policy goals. We foresee innovation in products that bridge this gap - whether it is the securitisation of community infrastructure or private/public partnerships (as with the £400 million UK Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund).
EV charging equipment for electrification of buses: Buses, with relatively fixed routes and exposure to the city centre, are a prime target for vehicle electrification. With a relatively fixed / guaranteed demand profile, investment solutions that combine electric vehicle buses and charging infrastructure could be valuable infrastructure investment opportunities.
Public chargepoint investment opportunities: With potentially up to 7 million EVs on UK roads by 2030, there will be a significant requirement for investment in public charging infrastructure. This would range from fast chargers on key motorway network points, as well as slower urban street-side charging facilities for those without off-street parking. This represents a significant investment that will need to be covered by a combination of public, private and individual funding.
Infrastructure upgrades: As suggested by the National Infrastructure Commission, to achieve decarbonisation, distribution and network operators will have to prepare detailed assessments of the infrastructure required, to enable the uptake of battery electric vehicles (including heavy goods vehicles).
Reduced need for parking spaces: As the use of shared mobility services increases, there may be a reduction in demand for parking in city centres and destinations as drop-offs become more common. This has potential implications for parking infrastructure business models and valuable city centre land could be repurposed. In the short term, EV chargepoints and facilities are opportunities to attract a growing customer segment to these locations.
Disruption of public transport investments by MaaS disruption: As consumers take up shared mobility services and experience autonomous vehicles, there may be an impact on competing public transport services, both in terms of ridership and increased congestion. This may upend traditionally stable public transport operator investments and require these organisations to invest in improving service, efficiency and capacity to compete.
Electrification and automation of airport land vehicles: Future airports could leverage new mobility technology in their operations, improving the efficiency and fuel use of airport land vehicles used in baggage transport, refuelling and tugging.
Increasing need for data infrastructure: Future mobility modes and business models rely heavily on digital technology and inter-connectedness, making data infrastructure, like cloud or data centres for data storage, the need of the hour. Next-generation artificial intelligence and big data technologies will become more and more critical over time. The government will have to shape the direction of travel through balanced data policy and regulations.
Alternative fuel infrastructure: As alternative fuels like hydrogen and biofuels gain traction, the infrastructure for production, storage and distribution of these alternative fuels will have to be developed.
New generation capacity needed for EVs: According to National Grid Future Energy Scenario projections, growth in EV adoption does have the potential to increase the longer-term power demand of the UK, offsetting energy efficiency savings. This will require development in new generation, likely renewables and natural gas, to continue to supply the UK energy market as older power stations become decommissioned over the next 20 years.
Active city traffic management: In a fully-autonomous vehicle world, could cities be smarter in managing and directing traffic? Sensor networks and real-time congestion and routing information could make it possible for city traffic management systems to give routing directions and priorities to individual vehicles, in order to balance congestion across routes and improve the overall flow of the city.