Charging station for electric car must be closer to home
The Federal and Flemish Governments want to accelerate the electrification of the Belgian car fleet. The phasing out of the tax deduction for company cars with combustion engines will significantly increase the number of electric vehicles in the Belgian fleet over the next few years.
To charge these vehicles quickly, Flemish Minister for Mobility, Lydia Peeters (Open Vld), wants EV drivers who do not have a parking space or charging infrastructure at home to request charging infrastructure within a radius of 250 meters of their homes. Until now, this perimeter was 500 meters.
Charging point close to home
Lydia Peeters has sent a memorandum to the Flemish Government for final approval concerning the roll-out of additional charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. The idea is to stimulate the switch by clearly informing the motorist concerned about the feasibility of the charging infrastructure in advance (before he actually gives up the car).
The memorandum states that the final decision is left to Fluvius, the road authority or municipality, and the charging infrastructure operator.
Progressive, but also naive
This approach shows a lot of goodwill to make the electric project work. Moreover, it is striking that both the car sector and the operators of charging systems have done their homework in recent years and are clearly ready for the challenge. Yet this note overlooks a crucial stumbling block, and that is the capacity of the electricity grid.
Too many players (municipalities, governments) still think that the roll-out of charging infrastructure is a matter of urbanization and street furniture. The fact is that one should start from the source and ask Fluvius where there is sufficient capacity to implement charging infrastructure.
Otherwise, time is lost in requests to local authorities only to find – often after approval – that the available power capacity is insufficient. This problem has been encountered repeatedly in recent years and is the leading cause of the slow or limited roll-out of licensed charging infrastructure. To be clear, a charging station does not ‘create’ electricity; it is merely a safe terminal to ‘fill up’ the car with available energy.
No digital counter on the charging point
A second important point in the paper is that the need to display the price of a charge on the charging infrastructure is not being followed up. This is because there are too many components that determine the tariff structure. Thus, the user can’t clearly view the price of a charge beforehand or afterward.
Most charging stations do not even have a (digital) counting mechanism so that the user can at least know how many units of energy (expressed in kWh) he has charged. This is an unprecedented situation because, if electricity becomes a fully-fledged fuel, it would be better to maintain the usual refueling principles (compulsory for conventional fuels) to make the energy cost transparent to the consumer.
The Federal Government has announced that it will examine whether additional regulations are needed to guarantee price transparency. This, too, shows goodwill but looks like running behind the facts.
All this should be in place before the roll-out of expensive charging infrastructure. Otherwise, there is a risk that the infrastructure will have to be adjusted in the short term, which will make the change even more expensive for the end-user.