Baden-Württemberg’s Green state premier hit a raw nerve when he recently asked, “Where are we charging electric cars?”
He is skeptical transport can be electrified overnight. Environmentally responsible drivers who think they will be able to nip round the corner to their local charging station are in for a rude surprise. The main problem with electromobility is it takes too long to charge car batteries, and there are just too few charging points. Added to that, electric cars are still too pricey.
The government assumes around 6 million electric cars will be driving German roads by 2030. To make that happen, we need a comprehensive network of charging stations, and cars that can be charged in just a few minutes.
A 10-minute pitstop to add 300 kilometers range would suit consumers fine. But charging stations need to be conveniently located.
For every million electric cars, grid output must increase 20 to 30 percent.
The local grid operator has already installed more than 250 charging columns in Hamburg. Charging columns are now being installed in parking garages in Mainz. Local utilities can’t be sure when they’ll recoup their investments. But development must continue regardless.
A single electric car consumes roughly as much electricity year each as a small household — around 1,500 kilowatt hours. For every million electric cars, grid output must increase 20 to 30 percent. That’s quite a boost.
The power supply for charging stations is mainly supplied by distribution grids, and rapid charging could quickly push the limits of their physical capacity. At the same time, the grid needs to manage a growing number of small power producers, as well as consumers.
Distribution grids are the main key to the success of electromobility. Yet regulation is lagging behind the demands of the future power system. Over the coming years, billions must be invested in integrating renewables into the grid, as well as in electromobility and the digitalization of distribution grids.
Lawmakers must create incentives for this new technology. There is no alternative.
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