Finding EU-wide rules for electric cars
ELECTRIC CARS, which seemed to have dropped somewhat off our collective radars recently, were back on the Irish agenda last week with the arrival of the Fully Charged Conference. The event was part of the European Green eMotion project.
What’s Green eMotion? It’s a pan-European organisation, established by the European Commission in Brussels, to try and untie the knot of differing electric car standards and incentives across the EU. With different countries using different plugs, charge points and purchasing incentives, surely, goes the train of thought, it would be better if we could all have one big target to aim at.
Heike Barlag of Siemens (experts in electrical systems and just check out the Ardnacrusha dam if you don’t believe us) is heading up Green eMotion, and with her daunting task described as “developing a user-friendly framework for the deployment of electric cars” we spoke to her in Dublin to find out just how far away we are from widespread acceptance and usage of electric cars.
“The clear idea of the European Commission to set up Green eMotion was to define the framework for electro-mobility. The main purpose is that we agree in Europe how to ‘do’ electro-mobility,” said Barlag. Which seemed a bit odd. After all, with electric cars having been available to buy for some time now, isn’t it a bit late in the day to be trying to decide how best to encourage people to buy them?
“I don’t think so, because before you can agree on things first you have to test them. There were a lot of research projects, a lot of testing programmes, how electric vehicles could work, what the interfaces should be, and how the whole structure should be. We had different approaches, and now we can decide which is the best one and we can fix that for Europe. Within Green eMotion we have several topics, for example the policy and regulation, such as different ideas of how you can promote electric vehicles; tax incentives, use of fast and bus lanes, or very popularly was an attractive parking space for an EV .
“We have tested these and analysed them in the first year of Green eMotion , across the different cities and found out what they want to achieve. Actually the point is that the incentives differ from country to country. There will be no recommendation such as ‘reduce your tax and then everyone will buy an EV’. So we have different deliverables, which are publicly available now, such as different strategies for different cities. I fear that people have to really learn and read these things, there is no simple solution.”
So, after a year of investigating what the best pan-European policy might be, the plan is to keep having lots of different policies. What about something a little more immediately practical, such as the standardisation of the plugs and sockets used to charge electric cars, so that whether you are in Portarlington or Poznan, you know how and where you can plug your EV in to charge?
“Standardisation is an important topic and we have a whole work package dealing with that. The point is that the plugs are a very visible problem. The point is not they are not standardised but they are of different types, so that in Europe we have to agree on one type.