Europe needs to invest 280 billion euros in electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Electric Vehicle

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The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has published a report urging the European Union to encourage investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Europe needs to be boosted by no less than 280 billion euros. This is stated in the latest report published by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), which points out in a press release that the European Union needs to adopt a rollout rate of 14,000 public charging points per week compared to the current 2,000 to reach a rollout of 6.8 million public charging points by 2030. A figure that, according to the ACEA report, would help to reduce 55% of CO2 emissions from European passenger cars. This is a significant departure from the figure put forward by the European Commission in the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR), which is currently being negotiated in the European Parliament and the European Council, and which is almost half of what ACEA is urging. On the other hand, the study estimates the annual costs of public charging infrastructure at 8 billion euros, around 16% of the investment in 5G and high-speed internet networks.

 

In addition, charging locations, space and power capacity required for heavy-duty vehicles infrastructure are substantially different from those of passenger cars. Thus, trucks will require 279,000 charging points by 2030, of which 84% will be in fleet hubs. The remaining charging points will predominantly be made up of public, fast-charging points along highways (36,000) and public overnight charging points (9,000). For buses, a total of 56,000 charging points will be required by 2030, of which 92% will be in fleet hubs, while the other 4,000 charging points should allow fast charging off highways, especially for regional buses and coaches. ACEA President and BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse said: “The key challenge now is to convince all member states to pick up the pace in deploying the required infrastructure. We absolutely need an ambitious conclusion of the AFIR proposal, both in terms of its timing and the targets it sets for each EU country.”

How does a fast electric vehicle charging station work?

Firstly, it is important to note that what we know as fast electric vehicle charging station operate with a power of 50 kW or more, i.e. in direct current. That is why we are going to need more elements than we would find in a domestic or low power charger in order to top up our vehicle.

The electricity reaches the charge point via the supplier’s power grid. It is here that we will differentiate between three main elements when charging our vehicle:

  • Transformer substation, including connection to the medium voltage grid.
  • Power converter cabinet.
  • Charging dispenser.
EV CHARGING STATION
EV Charging Station

Let’s start with the first one. The transformer substation will be in charge of connecting the charge point to the medium voltage grid, complying with the regulations required by the utility company in charge of the network, and of converting the medium voltage electricity into low voltage. Why is this point important? Because it guarantees the operability of the rest of the elements that will ensure the electric vehicle’s charge, and because it is, in turn, key from a safety perspective.

Furthermore, the most advanced transformer substations provide operators with remote data on consumption, trends in usage, and the state of the network and its elements, allowing them to operate and maintain their charging stations network more efficiently. All this guarantees that there is always energy available to users.

Now that we have low voltage, it is time for the second element of the equation to come into play: it is the turn of the power converter cabinet. This equipment converts the electricity, which arrives in alternating current, to direct current, as accepted by the batteries in electric vehicles.

Now that we have low voltage and direct current, it is the turn of the most well-known element: the charge dispenser. These dispensers, which are similar in appearance and functions to the pumps we can find at any filling station, transmit the energy –in this case, electricity– to our car.

They also allow us to know how much energy the charge point can supply, the energy our battery is able to absorb, the battery’s temperature conditions, and an approximate charge time, as well as managing payment. In short, apart from providing energy through the cable, they act as a “middleman” to ensure the charge point and the vehicle understand each other, and we can choose the best charging option.

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