Some 50% of all charging points in the European Union are concentrated in only two countries: The Netherlands and Germany. These findings were published in a study by the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association ACEA, unveiling a substantial disparity among the member states. At the same time, signals are appearing that the further rollout of the Dutch charging network is reaching scaling obstacles.
With 90 284 chargers in The Netherlands and 59 410 in Germany, these two countries, which make up only 10% of the total surface in the EU, are leading the way in constructing a fit charging network for the European EV adoption. In case you are wondering, the world’s number one EV country, Norway, deployed 17 000 charging points until now. However, with no EU membership, it is absent in the ACEA statistics.
East and west
The study unveils a broad fork. Compared to Cyprus (57), the country with the least chargers, The Netherlands has 1 600 times more chargers. The top five is completed by France (37 128), Sweden (25 197), and Italy (23 543).
Furthermore, the ranking unveils a stark contrast between western and eastern Europe, with Lithuania (207), Estonia (385), and Latvia (420) at the tail of the list. Countries with a more robust economy are better suited to support the distribution.
But the trend needs to move faster. ACEA Director-General Eric-Mark Huitema warns: “While some countries are powering ahead when it comes to infrastructure rollout, the majority are lagging.”
The organization also pleads for more ambitious targets under the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) from the European Commission. If the body wants to reach a CO2 reduction of 55% from vehicle usage in 2030, the total number of chargers (307 000) must grow 22 times by the end of the decade to 6.8 million public charging points.
Saturated grid in Holland
And with growth come growing pains, as is illustrated by the pioneering Netherlands and their strong leadership position. The country sees specific confines of the rollout nearing. According to the knowledge center ElaadNL, thousands of neighborhoods will be saturated by 2025, halting the further expansion of the charging network.
Rutger Croon from ElaadNl told radiostation BNR: “The grid capacity will be exceeded in 3 000 areas within three years.” His worry is confirmed by grid operator Stedin pointing at the smart charging solution for vehicles to tackle the problem.
Viva smart charging
The only other option for charging congestion is strengthening the grid. But that is the unpreferred costly way out. Projections are that The Netherlands will further raise the number of charging points to 5 million by 2050, but not without a significant impact on the capacity of the low voltage grid, which is also used by the growing number of domestic heat pumps and solar panels.
According to the parties involved, smart charging should become the norm by 2025. This is a form of automatic and data-controlled charging, making it possible for the EVs to choose the moment and charging rate by themselves, spreading the load on the grid. Smart charging is a crucial solution for making the EV transition work but is currently only under test in a pilot phase.