In the past two decades Austria’s transportation sector has experienced the highest increase of greenhouse gas emissions, with a rise of +55 %. But also on a global scale, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects an increase of the energy demand due to mobility of more than 40 % until the year 2035. It is obvious that mitigating climate change requires transitioning from conventional cars with combustion engines to zero emission electric cars powered by renewable energy. Even though there is an obvious trend towards wind and solar in most western countries, there is still great potential for improvement as can be concluded from figure 1. The situation is even worse in most developing countries, with 4 % or less coming from renewable sources.
Figure 1: Share of renewable sources in the EU electricity mix. [Source: Eurostat]
Figure 2: projected EV sales numbers in Austria (right) [Source: Umweltbundesamt, “Szenarien zur Entwicklung der Elektromobilität in Österreich”].
In general, a sever expansion of photovoltaic and wind power plants is to be expected within the next years, not only in Europe but many parts of the world enabling area-wide energy supply by renewables. This trend is being followed by high sales numbers of electric vehicles as shown in figure 2.
Latest research has shown that there is a direct relation between market penetration of EVs and availability of (fast) charging stations. If the expansion of the charging networks lags behind the sales numbers of electric vehicles, this must be noticed as a serious threat to the entire EV industry.
The increased share of volatile sources brings along an urgent need for energy storage. Especially the rising electricity demand caused by the high number of EVs and the correlated expansion of the charging network assigns a key role to the development of efficient low cost energy storage technologies.
In the Official Journal of the European Union a directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure was published, which says:
“Member States should ensure that recharging points accessible to the public are built up with adequate coverage, in order to enable electric vehicles to circulate at least in urban/suburban agglomerations and other densely populated areas, and, where appropriate, within networks determined by the Member States. The number of such recharging points should be established taking into account the number of electric vehicles estimated to be registered by the end of 2020 in each Member State. As an indication, the appropriate average number of recharging points should be equivalent to at least one recharging point per 10 cars, also taking into consideration the type of cars, charging technology and available private recharging points. An appropriate number of recharging points accessible to the public should be installed, in particular at public transport stations, such as port passenger terminals, airports or railway stations. Private owners of electric vehicles depend to a large extent on access to recharging points in collective parking lots, such as in apartment blocks and office and business locations. Public authorities should take measures to assist users of such vehicles by ensuring that the appropriate infrastructure with sufficient electric vehicle recharging points is provided by site developers and managers.”
The Austrian Environmental Agency (Österreichisches Umweltbundesamt) writes in their report “Scenarios for the Development of electric Mobility in Austria”:
„Ideal would be a high-power charging infrastructure for the top-level road network, at transport nodal points and in urban centers in Austria. However, public authorities are currently not planning an endeavor of such kind“
“Assuming a charge power of 63 kW, the infrastructure costs related to the energy price increase by a factor of 13. Fast charging is still relatively expensive”
According to the „Global EV Outlook 2017“ by IEA, the number of public EV charge points has be increased by a factor of 25 until the year 2025 in order to cope with the strong projected growth of the EV market.
In conclusion, the consequent transition to zero emission mobility based in electric vehicles and renewable energy requires efficient and economic energy storage systems. In order to avoid costly grid expansion, these energy storage devices need to be applied in a decentralized manner, directly at the charging station.