Published on October 31st, 2018 | by Jacek Fior0
The Chicken Wins In Poland, And The Chicken Is Greenway
October 31st, 2018 by Jacek Fior
I wonder how many times you have heard about the chicken and egg dilemma in the context of EV rollout and charging infrastructure. Should charging infrastructure come first to encourage EV buyers or should EV drivers come first to force the development of the charging infrastructure? I bet you’ve heard that more than actually necessary since market-driven changes usually happen simultaneously and opportunity attracts business initiatives from both teams — chickens and eggs.
Sometimes, however, the chicken wins, and that seems to be the case in Poland thanks to GreenWay — the largest charging infrastructure operator in this part of Europe. The news that hit the media last week electrified all EV enthusiasts, politicians, and even EV skeptics in the region — a plan for 850 charging stations in Central and Eastern Europe.
We have written about GreenWay on numerous occasions — and I, myself, have thanked them in many ways for what the team are doing here for EV development. I still remember December 2016, when GreenWay was launching its first fast charger in Poland. We were thrilled and excited about the prospect of having a network of 75 such fast chargers along major routes in Poland. Crowded around the DBT device in a mall parking lot, we could feel it was a game changer. Little could we know then that it was only GreenWay’s first step into its dominance in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). [Editor’s note: Well, technically, I’ve been predicting this in notes to and about GreenWay for a few years. While others have been ignoring this region, GreenWay has been planting an extensive, deep, well connected root network. —Zach]
Two years later, in November 2018, GreenWay can boast a network of 80 charging stations in Poland, 75% of which are DC fast chargers (CHAdeMO and CCS), and 30 more are coming by the end of this year. That makes GreenWay the largest charging service provider in CEE.
As I said above, the previous milestones were only a warm-up for the team. They have just unveiled their Plan for the Future. It is a €34 million infrastructure investment plan for electric mobility and charging services in the CEE region. GreenWay also signed a €17 million investment agreement with the European Investment Bank to achieve this plan — the first loan in CEE under the EIB’s “InnovFin — EU Finance for Innovators’ Energy Demonstration Projects’” fund. It was joined in this announcement by the European Commission, which has several ongoing projects with GreenWay and a great interest in the growth of the electric mobility network as a critical piece in the transition towards cleaner, emissions-free transportation.
One of GreenWay’s strengths and the reason for its success is its ability to pool together shareholders in gathering funds for the investments. In this case, apart from the loan from EIB, it will use EC grants and outside investors. I have seen and talked to many companies sharing a similar dream of growing their own charging network. The critical difference often is this elusive ability to gather necessary capital. Credit to GreenWay and its co-founder, Peter Badik, for making it happen.
Worth mentioning is what Peter says is the vision of GreenWay — keeping it all in proportion, it reminds me of the mission statement of a bit larger EV company from the USA:
“At GreenWay our vision is to make Central and Eastern Europe cleaner and healthier through the widespread adoption of electric mobility. We are honored to have the support and confidence of the European Investment Bank as we pursue this vision.”
Privileged to know some of the managing team at GreenWay, I reached out to inquire about what interests me most — that is deployment plans for Poland and roaming options for users of the network. Using EU grants often means there are certain criteria regarding where the stations can be located. For example, the first batch of stations launched in 2016 covered TEN-T corridor roads in Europe, leaving some areas unattended. It looks like GreenWay will have more freedom this time and even my small town of Namysłów can apply. That is a huge advantage compared to the previous program — there are many tourist areas and locations ideal for growing the infrastructure that have been blocked so far. I’m ready to use all forms of pressure, allowed and less allowed, to have a charger in my area.
I know how much this topic affects people’s perception of the EV market — no charger, no EVs. (Most petrol/diesel drivers are still unaware most charging happens at home and expect a “station” — let’s give it to them!) Knowing also that GreenWay is part of the e-clearing platform, we know EV drivers from all over Europe and beyond will be able to benefit from the network, and the other way around as well. The plan to expand the GreenWay network to the Czech Republic and the Baltic States means more customers on one hand and more roaming options on the other.
Are there any obstacles, then? Aaron Fishbone from the GreenWay team answers my question in one word – “Always.” You may guess these include finding good locations (I already suggested one – Namysłów 😉 ).
It’s not only about the physical place but more about the right location partner who can contribute to the effort and help overcome site problems. One of them is often power capacity – especially in the case of ultrafast chargers planned as part of the rollout – which requires upgrading the power grid to support the chargers.
The search for locations is also made more challenging as the competition is growing – we have already written about Polish state companies like Orlen and Lotus developing their own networks using their branded petrol stations. And we’re not talking a few locations — we’re talking about 600+ stations in Poland. Good luck, GreenWay.
As an EV enthusiast, we can simply sit back and watch it happen. Already today, we have more chargers per registered EV in Poland than the Netherlands. Of course, it doesn’t make us leaders, as the number of EVs in Poland is still ridiculously low, but it makes the road to electrified transport much easier. The chicken has won in Poland and the chicken is GreenWay.
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