Big decisions loom for Europe’s EV charging network

Parliament, on the other hand, proposes a smart approach with a higher installed capacity per vehicle requirement until a market reaches a certain size, then reducing as the fleet grows and the private market can take over.

For the EU countries with small EV fleets, the risk of a widening two-speed Europe gap is very real. Parliament””s approach, of going bigger early, will do far more to help early stage markets develop than an approach based on 1 kW/BEV. Given the narrowing window to meet the EU’s climate targets, stimulating nascent markets is precisely what the policy objective should be.

Roaming is essential

Of the three legislative bodies, parliament proposal is the only one to include e-roaming in the scope of AFIR. E-roaming is the main way that EV drivers charge out-of-network. Therefore, it is important that it is included in the AFIR regulatory framework.

Europe’s EV charging ecosystem needs to be open and interoperable, so that EV drivers can charge on any network using their mobility service provider (eMSP).

Recharging via eMSP lets a driver use services such as reservation, preferential pricing, and plug and charge, to name a few.

Using ones eMSP is also required for the many benefits that EVs can bring to the overall energy system (and EV user) such as smart charging and time-of-use tariffs.

Public chargers should offer ad hoc or “anonymous” charging – where the EV driver simply pays for their electrons and moves on – especially to encourage uptake as going electric enters the mainstream.

However, that method cannot realize the vision of a digitally connected, interoperable, dynamic system managing flexibility, complexity and other grid services, as well as freedom of choice and additional benefits to EV drivers.

A system reliant on ad-hoc charging is also open to exploitative practices, where charge point operators (CPOs) can require an EV driver to pay whatever ad-hoc price they are charging at that location and the EV driver has no alternative but to pay it. This is especially concerning given today’s high energy prices.

Roll out, don’t roll back

To support the widespread uptake of EVs, it’s imperative that CPOs focus on rolling out many more smart, connected, reliable charging stations. They should not roll back what is already deployed and working well.

Yet, that is what parliament is calling for with its proposal to retrofit existing charging stations, especially AC chargers below 50 kW, with credit card readers and pin pad terminals.

I suspect this burden would cause many CPOs to discontinue those chargers and pull out of the public AC market altogether, as additional hardware costs compress or eliminate any profits.

This would likely also cause many chargers to be discontinued and recycled before the end of their useful lives, thus prematurely contributing to electronic waste.

As the trialogue negotiations begin, it is important that the most forward-looking and future-proof legislation emerges. The rules need to strike the proper balance between the preferences of EV drivers, CPOs, MSPs and public authorities.

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