EV Infrastructure & Parking: Will supply ever meet demand?

Gepubliceerd op: 03 april 2024

There are always some fascinating discussions circulating around the electric vehicle (EV) sector. Two inextricably linked bones of contention that will be discussed during next month’s Intertraffic Amsterdam 2024 summit programme are supply and demand.


Here’s why: the numbers of EVs on Europe’s roads are increasing exponentially. Watching a Tesla Model S or Hyundai iONIQ 6 overtake us on the motorway (other electric vehicles makes and models are available, of course) is now such a regular occurrence that it likely doesn’t even register. From an environmental point of view this is very positive, but in terms of on-street EV charging infrastructure to cater for all these new electric cars, the current picture isn’t quite at the same level. Also, an increase in on-street charging facilities will mean a similar decrease in parking spaces for ICE-powered vehicles.


Also worthy of note is that in the post-pandemic era the numbers of people working from home, either permanently or on alternate days, has more than trebled. It’s not hard to imagine that a rising percentage of these home workers have EVs and charge them on their property – meaning that there is now increasing pressure on electricity grids all over Europe. You might be able build your way out of these issues in the Middle East, as an example, but in Amsterdam, Vienna or Canterbury space is at a premium, to say the very least.


How EV hurdles can become opportunities
“From a European Parking Association [EPA] perspective, our members were also struggling with how to address the hurdles that need to be overcome when implementing EV charging infrastructure,” admits Peter Dingemans, founder of Dingemans Management BV and a board member of the EPA.


“And in the case of the Netherlands this is where the government and particularly the Rijkswaterstaat [the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management] comes in really helpful because they were able to address it from another direction and are able to connect with the energy sector, the EV charge point operators with the domain companies responsible in the Netherlands for supporting and facilitating charging infrastructure and the general electricity infrastructure.


“We also decided from a deeper perspective to focus on this topic, so that’s the reason why we started an EPA working group focusing on EV charging and fire safety,” adds Dingemans, who is also a board member of the Dutch parking platform VEXPAN. “There are quite a few initiatives moving forward in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Nordic countries, sharing best practices and discussing these areas and how to address them in the most efficient way possible.”


EPA is also involved in a similar initiative at the EU level, according to Tom Antonissen, EPA’s Executive Director: “Through AVERE, the European association for electromobility, we were invited to contribute to a European Commission expert group working on the topic of fire safety in covered car parks. Linked to the EU’s overall objective to promote electromobility uptake, this group has the ambition to draft guidelines still this year, whereas recent EU legislation indicates such guidance should be published by 31 December 2025”.


Is there enough space for EV infrastructure?
An interesting interjection here is that across Europe one in every five new public parking spaces have to be EV-enabled. Non-residential buildings with more than 10 spaces have to have at least one EV charging point and cable routes for 20% of the remaining spaces, taking into account the new extended ranges of new EV models.


“There are a number of developments that are relevant here,” Dingemans replies. “Range is expanding and of course drivers have the option to charge at their homes or close to their homes, at least. But at the same time in city centres this is also a challenge because if you’re looking at mobility policies and parking policies, then there’s a clear trend towards removing on-street parking spaces in city centres and converting them into green areas, giving the spaces back to the local communities as ‘liveable’ areas.”


These initiatives are being made on an individual city-by-city basis, so does Dingemans believe that ‘joined-up thinking’ would help in the creation of a solution that could be workable for many cities, if not all?


“Cities really do need a solution for storing these cars somewhere else. The best alternative is to look into car parks, and in particular, underground car parks are a good alternative for that. This is, after all, where most cars, particularly in a business environment, live during the day, and where offering charging facilities really makes a difference, and addresses the demand,” he replies.


“And I think it’s also important to realise that if you’re looking at offering EV charging then private car park operators will invest in those types of facilities, but only if there’s a certain demand. So investing in EV charging facilities, without a clear demand, or a foreseeable demand in the near future isn’t going to help us much.”


Local generation of energy
Dingemans says that the EV charging sector as an entity is looking for innovative solutions that can help to address this pressing issue by looking into the smart power management solutions that facilitate the local generation of energy.


“We’re looking at instances where solar power can be used to charge local energy storage, if possible in combination with the latest generation of EVs to reduce the need for external power sourcing.”


In November 2019 Intertraffic ran an article that explored EV charging options but one solution that wasn’t covered was Vehicle-to-Grid systems, or V2G, something that residents of Amsterdam are very familiar with.


“V2G is part of the smart solution I mentioned. The car itself can help as a sort of temporary buffer to spread out the peaks during specific times of the day. If you’re looking at tariff differentiation, you can expect that we will, in the near future, see new models of tariff calculations and schemes around that will allow you as an EV driver to set a certain level of capacity that you will need in order to be able to drive home at the end of the day,” he explains. “If you set that level to 60% then the remaining 40% of the charge that you still have in your car can be used for charging other cars, or local energy storage solutions.


“This way you’re taking out the energy consumption peaks, which also means that it’s a more stabilised way of using the energy that’s available and required. This all has to do with the capability to communicate with cars and the grid using the mechanisms and protocols that are in place,” Dingemans continues. “You are helping to stabilise and facilitate the available energy in your area.”


What’s in it for us?
This, then, is yet another example of how behavioural change is integral to the success of what is, essentially, a traffic management solution; a scenario where every actor needs incentivising at some point in the process.


“There’s a lot of price elasticity in this scenario, but at some point people may want to change their behaviour,” Dingemans adds. “And I don’t think that’s going to be viewed as a one-size-fits-all solution alluded to earlier. But I think that due to the increasing traffic jams, the cost of transportation, the cost of parking… a certain level of momentum will build up to the point where people do want to change their behaviour.”


Peter Dingemans is managing director of Dingemans Management BV; Board Member of the European Parking Association (EPA) and Co-Chair of the EPA’s EV & Fire Safety Working Group; and he is a Board Member of VEXPAN, the Dutch parking association.


E-laden Laadinfrastructuur Duurzame mobiliteit EV European Parking Association

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