Charging infrastructure: Focus on the drivers - How e-mobility becomes possible for everyone
The success of e-mobility is largely dependent on the expansion of the public charging infrastructure – while taking the needs of drivers into account. Innovative concepts such as lamp post charging help to facilitate the switch to electric vehicles.
In its new coalition agreement, the German government has once again underlined its goal of massively reducing CO2 emissions in transport through a transformation to e-mobility. Specifically, around 15 million electrified vehicles are planned to be on German roads in 2030. Although the registration figures are already rising sharply today, the targeted figures remain extremely ambitious. But what is needed to achieve these goals? In addition to providing increasingly affordable vehicles, it is important to make drivers' everyday lives as comfortable as possible. Because only if drivers are sure that they can charge their vehicle in every everyday situation will they dare to make the switch to EVs. In this context, a comprehensive and user-centred public charging infrastructure is one of the central factors that will determine the success of e-mobility.
Speeding up the expansion of the charging infrastructure
Projections predict that between 440.000 and one million public charging points will be needed in Germany in 2030. At the end of 2021, approximately 55,000 of these charging points were installed. What proves to be critical is the pace of expansion of the charging infrastructure. If the current increase of 300 charging points per week is maintained, the public space will move towards a strong discrepancy between demand and reality. Consequently, the pace must be massively increased and between 800 and 2,000 new charging points per week installed as of today.
To solve this challenge, it is first necessary to consider the charging process of an electric vehicle. In contrast to fossil-fueled vehicles, EVs can be charged nearly anywhere – next to the highway, at supermarket car parks, in the garage at home, but also at the roadside. In this context, the public charging infrastructure faces the task of mapping the various situations and associated needs in an efficient and expedient charging mix. Where and for what purpose these different options are used and in what quantity has a considerable influence on costs, comfort, the speed of the infrastructure ramp-up and thus the success of the mobility transition.
When expanding the public charging infrastructure, it must also be considered that not every driving and charging situation mentioned occurs with the same frequency. For example, around 80% of charging processes take place at or near home. Residents with their own parking space on the property or in the underground car park can conveniently make use of wallboxes here and simply charge their cars overnight. But for drivers without their own parking space - around 40 to 60% of all residents in urban areas - this everyday charging is much more complex. If e-mobility is to be successful, it is of utmost relevance that these drivers must also enjoy all the benefits. New infrastructure must therefore not only meet the needs of cities and electricity grids, but primarily those of drivers: easy to use and available everywhere.
Lamp post charging
The use of existing infrastructure, specifically lamp posts, is a possible solution that is still too rarely considered in public discourse. In urban areas, lamp posts offer ideal conditions for the installation of many new charging points in a short time. They can be planned at short notice, are highly scalable and have comparatively low investment and operating costs. Furthermore, lamp post charging points are extremely space-saving, as no additional street furniture needs to be installed - there is therefore no need for further sealing of surfaces. Moreover, the conversion of lamp posts to charging points usually does not require any earthworks, which is why the installation can be carried out in around one hour. Lamp post charging points can also be easily repositioned, whether through the establishment of traffic-calmed zones or the construction of new cycle paths.
In addition to cities and municipalities themselves, it’s their residents who benefit in particular. With public lamp post charging points, the large group of people who do not have a private parking space gain easy access to charging options on their doorstep. Charging the electric vehicle becomes a secondary matter, analogous to a wallbox. Lamp post charge points are specially adapted to long parking times, for example overnight. And by using the low voltage of lamp post charging points, drivers can easily recharge the average daily driving distance of around 40 kilometres overnight. A short calculation example underlines this assumption: 10 hours charging time x 3.7kW = 37kWh; with an average consumption of 16kWh/100km, this corresponds to a driving distance of 231km (per night). Long journeys to decentralised charging points and waiting times during the charging process are thus eliminated.
A look at Great Britain shows that the concept of lamp post charging works in practice. Here, urban residents' charging with lamp post charging points is an established market segment. In Germany, the implementation proved to be more complex for a long time due to requirements regarding calibration law and technical connection rules. Although providers such as ubitricity now offer standard-compliant lamp post charging points for the German market, considerable hardware components at the charging point could be dispensed with by adapting or differentiating the technical connection rules. This would enable integration into the light pole and thus a rollout that is even more compatible with the urban landscape.
Lamp post charging is an important topic in the field of public charging that must be steadily advanced. It turns "anyway parking times" into charging times and uses existing grid capacities that do not pose any challenges to today's network. Lamp post charging can be implemented quickly, cheaply and, above all, in a customer-friendly manner. It therefore removes considerable barriers to entry to e-mobility, especially for urban residents without their own parking space.
Philipp Sindberg © ubitricity
has been with ubitricity, a provider and operator of charging solutions, for almost 10 years. In various roles, he has gained extensive expertise in the field of public charging infrastructure. As Head of Sales Germany, Philipp Sindberg is driving forward the topic of lamp post charging in urban areas.