THE north's vastly under-served electric vehicle charging infrastructure has been significantly boosted by a multi-million pound cash injection into Belfast-based EV charge point operator Weev.
London investment company Octopus has pledged to inject £50 million into Weev, which will allow it to massively scale up on plans to instal at least 1,500 new electric vehicle charging points in 350 locations by next year.
Weev was established in 2022 by Dominic Kearns and Thomas O'Hagan to create the north's largest privately operated EV charging network, installing public chargers and end-to-end solutions for workplace and fleet, with its chargers enabling drivers to power up in as little as 20 minutes.
This will be the first investment for Octopus Sustainable Infrastructure Fund (OSIF), which itself is backed by the UK Infrastructure Bank.
That new fund will provide growth capital to the next generation of infrastructure companies with proven technology and potential that are critical to meeting the scale of the UK’s net zero ambitions.
Weev chif executive Philip Rainey said: "This investment from Octopus enables a major expansion to the size and scope of the roll-out we announced at launch last year.
"We can now increase our focus on providing more rapid and ultra-rapid charging hubs in response to growing demand from EV drivers.
"In total, the capital will enable us to instal and maintain a network of thousands of EV charging points over the next five years using locally-based teams and expertise."
He added: "In a world of rising energy prices, consumers and fleet operators are now thinking more seriously than ever before about switching to an EV to unlock significant cost savings and reduce their carbon footprint.
"We are helping to enable this switch by breaking down barriers such as range anxiety through access to convenient and reliable EV chargers."
EV drivers in Northern Ireland are disproportionately under-served in terms of charging infrastructure, with Department for Transport figures showing just 20 public charge points per 100,000 people compared to a UK average of 60 charge points.
Lukasz Michalak, investment director (sustainable infrastructure) at Octopus, said: "OSIF is focused on investing growth capital into sustainable infrastructure businesses tackling climate change and supporting levelling-up ambitions across the UK.
"Weev is the perfect example of the next generation of infrastructure companies doing just that. By backing Weev, we see a great opportunity to deliver a positive impact to Northern Ireland's communities while meeting the financial objectives of the fund."
John Flint, chief executive at the UK Infrastructure Bank, said: "The potential Weev has to scale up EV charging in Northern Ireland is significant, and we look forward to seeing the impact on decarbonising the local transport infrastructure to support the UK's transition to net zero."
In arranging the financing, Weev was advised by Cameron Barney LLP and Tughans LLP.
The Weev founders were advised by Radius Corporate Finance Limited. OSIF was advised by Addleshaw Goddard LLP.