European Charging Infrastructure A Long Way From Great

Looking at the charging infrastructure in Europe is not something that makes you happy. A new website shows just how bad the situation is.
This article was originally posted on Cleantechnica.com and is written by Maarten Vinkhuyzen.

Snapshot of the charge point monitor, a dashboard showing charge point data in Europe
Source: Charge Point Monitor | EVMarketsreports.com

I live in the Netherlands. That is the world’s charging paradise. Norway has the most fully electric cars, but charging them is the least problematic for the Dutch. I was last year in Oslo, the city with the most BEV, at least in Europe, and charging was less easy than I was accustomed to. Along the high ways it was no problem. Norway has relatively a high percentage of DC chargers, both in the city and along the roads. The disadvantage of DC charging is that you have to wait, or do it while shopping.

In The Netherlands we have mostly curb side chargers, intended for over-night charging. The perfect solution for those that don’t have charging on their own driveway. In Europe the majority of the people live in homes without their own driveway. 

In the Netherlands, over 2/3 of the households does not have their own driveway. But 2/3 of the drivers of plug-in cars do have a private charger. The conclusion can be that even in a country with a charging infrastructure like The Netherlands having your own driveway is a condition for driving a plug-in vehicle. But perhaps it partially is because the people that buy new cars, are more likely to live in homes with their own driveway. Nice topic for a study for a college paper.

I think in the most other countries it is not the same, but worse. I was reminded of these problems by a newsletter of EVMarketsReports.com announcing their new Charge Point Monitor. The newsletter and the monitor showed how bad the charging infrastructure in the 16 monitored European countries is. About the same information for the EU countries can be found on the website of the European Alternate Fuels Observatory (EAFO), an EU agency monitoring CNG, LNG, LPG, Hydrogen, and electricity for transport.

Snapshot of the charge point monitor, a dashboard showing charge point data of Germany
Source: Charge Point Monitor | EVMarketsreports.com

The availability of DC fast charging is a necessary condition for making electric travel away from your home possible. But AC charging while the car is parked at or near your home or your dwork should be the normal way of charging for daily use. DC charging is faster, but the time or location is often not great to do something else while charging, but long enough to be a long wait. AC charging is done in essentially zero time for the driver. The driver is at work or at home, preferably sleeping.

The transition to electric driving in most of Europe is still in its infancy. Even in Norway electric driving is not yet normal for those that buy only used cars, those that buy only older used cars, at least 50% of car buyers, are still mainly buying fossil fuel burning cars. There are no older used fully electric cars in the market, even in Norway.

Only after the new car market is mainly electric for 10 years will the electric transition reach those car buyers that do not buy new or nearly new cars. The used car market is about 4-5 times the size of the new car market. The fully electric vehicles market share in that market is too small to calculate.

With electric cars being mainly driven by new car buyers, even in Norway, it is understandable that the public infrastructure is more for the benefit of long distance drivers than daily use. Currently the far majority of electric cars is charged on the own charger of the driver. About 95% of the Dutch chargers (both public and semi-public) are AC chargers. This is clearly visible in the Charge Point Monitor. For electric driving becoming to be the standard, for all drivers, this availability of charging should become the standard in all countries.

There are a number of different opinions and views on what is the more desirable infrastructure for charging. This is mainly centered around curbside charging in urban areas. One view is to minimize the availability of chargers because of cost, grid demand, and visual pollution of public spaces.

Another view is the contribution that connected EV can deliver to grid stability when smart charging is enabled. The logical end point of this approach is that an EV should be in one of two states, driving around or connected to the grid. With smart charging being in its early infancy, this has a long way to go. But it could become the dominant way to design the charging infrastructure. Or it could just grow that way because it is the most economical way to do it.

For electric driving to become the main way of driving for all parts of society, daily charging on (semi-)public chargers must become highly available.

The next graph shows how far ahead the Dutch are compared to the rest of Europe.

A graph showing the top 10 cities with the most charge points in Europe
Source: Charge Point Monitor | EVMarketsreports.com

There are four Dutch cities in the top five. Only London, over 10 times the size of Amsterdam, is between them. Many cities bigger than the four Dutch cities combined are nowhere near a place on this list. I am looking at you, Berlin, Milan, Rome, Naples, Barcelona, Madrid, just to name a few.

The availability of curbside chargers is primarily the responsibility of municipalities. BTW, the citizens of those four Dutch cities are complaining of a lack of chargers where they need them.

When voting, make sure you know the opinion of your local politicians on this topic. It does not seem very important, but it is crucial for the transition the renewable transportation.

Source: Cleantechnica: European Charging Infrastructure A Long Way From Great | Maarten Vinkhuyzen

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