Charging stations are one of the prerequisites for more widespread adoption of electric vehicles, but their scarcity is hampering the growth of e-cars, especially in some EU countries.
And while many public places already have them, and some countries and cities can even boast that they are getting close to having enough of them, at least in terms of electric vehicles moving around in them, in residential areas and complexes the problem remains in both poorer and richer countries of the Community. It is particularly serious where multi-family residential buildings predominate, around which, if there is no charging station, one has no way to charge the battery of one’s electric vehicle. And he spends the most time in these areas, especially at night when it makes more sense to charge. Firstly, because of the lower load on the grid and cheaper night-time electricity, and secondly, because in general private cars are rarely driven in the dark part of the day when drivers are usually at home, and from this point of view this is also the time to charge. This problem does not only exist for people who live in houses or have garages where they can safely plug in their electric car to charge at night, and generally when it suits them.
The Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) and Transport & Environment (T&E), an alliance of several NGOs, have a vision on how to address this issue more quickly and successfully. In their view, the problem can and should be eliminated by making it compulsory to build charging stations in buildings and car parks in residential areas at the level of European legislation. In this respect, the two organisations propose a change to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which is already imminent. According to ACEA and T&E, the amendments should include a requirement for the mandatory installation of charging stations in new buildings, as well as a relaxed regime for their easy installation next to existing buildings. Similar requirements are proposed for public and other buildings.
In this regard, the two organisations have drafted a letter entitled “Making Europe’s buildings ready for e-mobility”, which has been sent to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Executive Vice-President responsible for the Green Deal Frans Timmermans, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson and Transport Commissioner Adina Valean. A copy has been sent to Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, Director General of DG Energy Ditte Juul Jorgensen, Chair of the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee Christian Bushoy and his Transport and Tourism Committee colleague Karima Deli.
In it, ASEA and T&E stress the importance of revising the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) to deploy sufficient electric vehicle charging points in Member States. According to both organisations, the upcoming revision of the EPBD is essential for the transition to zero-emission transport.
“As part of the Fit for 55 package, in July 2021 the EC proposed a regulation on alternative fuels focused on deploying refuelling infrastructure that is also accessible to the public. The EPBD should complement this regulation through ambitious proposals, as the directive can be an important factor in achieving decarbonisation targets in the transport sector,” the letter stresses.
The ASEA and T&E insist that every driver of an electric vehicle must be guaranteed the right and ability to install a charger when purchasing such a vehicle. This should be at their own expense if they wish and can afford it. For this reason, a legal framework must be established in all Member States, both at national and local level, to ensure that every citizen who purchases an electric vehicle is also allowed to install a charger.
Moreover, ACEA and T&E insist that European and national legislation should ensure that the time between the request to install a charger and its installation should not exceed 3 months.
“The Commission should encourage Member States to move in this direction and ensure a harmonised approach to this principle across the EU. And countries themselves should improve their national legislation to reduce barriers for citizens to switch to electric mobility,” the authors of the letter stress.
It also proposes that requirements for non-residential and public buildings be set out in the regulations. According to both organisations, existing buildings should be required to be equipped with charging stations for electric vehicles by 2035 at the latest. For new buildings and those undergoing major refurbishment, these requirements should apply from 2025. And for existing buildings, interim targets should be introduced, in particular that at least 10% of the adjacent parking spaces should have electric vehicle charging capability by 2025 and that this percentage should be increased to at least 30 five years later.
Similar targets are proposed to be introduced in the EPBD for residential buildings, as the availability of charging infrastructure for these will be a key factor for the successful and large-scale deployment of electric mobility. In this regard, ASEA and T&E are pushing for the directive to include the obligation to pre-wire all parking spaces for all new residential buildings and those undergoing major refurbishment, with the rule to be in place from 2025.
At the same time, the requirement to prepare all parking spaces for electric vehicle charging should also be introduced for existing residential buildings from 2035, the two organisations also propose. They also specify that the requirement should apply to buildings with more than 5 parking spaces. But here too an interim target should be introduced to cover at least 30% of the parking spaces around the building by 2030.
ACEA and T&E also note that all installations must be prepared to work with smart charging systems, as well as to ensure that pre-wiring will be done with sufficient capacity to meet the projected rapid increase in demand for electric vehicles, respectively charging stations and their daily use.
For both residential and public buildings with more than 10 parking spaces, not only charging stations but also a specific number of charging points should be required. Thus, in 2025, all such parking lots in front of buildings must have at least 5% of parking spaces prepared for charging with a minimum of one charging point. By 2027, the coverage should increase to 10% of parking spaces, but not less than 2 points, and 3 years later the share of these parking spaces should become at least 15% and at least 3 cars can be charged at the same time.
Both organisations also believe that the charging stations described above should be designed for personal and generally light electric vehicles. To avoid their use by vans, trucks and buses, separate charging stations and points should be provided for the latter at depots and logistics centres. And as the uptake of battery electric trucks and vans is expected to increase sharply over the next decade, the scope of the EPBD should include not only buildings but also warehouses and logistics centres. Buses, trucks and heavy goods vehicles will thus be guaranteed to be charged at night or during loading and unloading.
ASEA and T&E are well aware that the implementation of their proposals will also require significant investment. They therefore propose to use various European funding instruments, such as InvestEU, the European Investment Bank, etc. They also propose that these options should apply to residential and public buildings as well as to landfills and logistics centres. The two organisations also recommend that the EC and Member States consider using other existing and new financial instruments to stimulate investment in private charging infrastructure.
The ASEA and T&E letter makes clear that they believe the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is crucial and needs to be aligned with the objectives of the Green Deal and the EU’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy. But there must also be requirements to support such investments. Last but not least, the development of charging infrastructure in and around buildings must go hand in hand with the development of electricity distribution networks to ensure their sustainability.
The two organisations conclude their letter to Von der Leyen and other European officials with an invitation for a meeting to discuss the issue in more detail.