European Parliament Members: EV Charging Stations Should Be Available Every 60 Kilometers

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It’s pretty difficult to determine how many charging stations are “enough” on highways. Something simplistic, like taking the average EV’s range and putting the stations no more than that far apart, fails because it doesn’t factor in things like weather and terrain. Making sure that the stations aren’t too far apart for even lower-range EVs to get to the next one in bad conditions still isn’t enough, because some people might want to (gasp!) leave the main highway and come back.

So…what is a good minimum spacing? In the United States, the infrastructure bill says states need to have stations no more than 50 miles apart for a corridor to be considered “built out” (assuming they don’t get a waiver). Now, we’re seeing the European Parliament give some guidance on how far apart stations should be, according to a recent official press release.

On Wednesday, the EU Parliament officially endorsed a set of rules put forth to increase the number of recharging and alternative refueling stations (such as electric or hydrogen) for cars, trucks, trains, and planes. This is all part of the “Fit for 55 in 2030 package” which plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% come 2030.

In 2024, member states must present a plan on how to achieve the minimum national targets for MEPs who have agreed to deploy alternative fuel infrastructure.

“At the moment we have 377,000 charging stations in the EU, but this is half the amount that should have been achieved had EU countries lived up to their promises,” said EP rapporteur on alternative fuels infrastructure Ismail Ertug. “We need to tackle this decarbonisation bottleneck and quickly roll out the alternative fuels infrastructure to save the Green Deal.”

The electric car charging stations should be placed every 60 kilometers (about every 37 miles in non-metric speak) on main EU roads by 2026. However, this excludes areas with little traffic or public transportation systems, such as trucks and buses that rely heavily on core TEN-T networks. These regions will have their own set of regulations for these stations.

Beyond just distances, they set some other standards. By 2027, there should be an easy-to-use EU access point for alternative fuels data that includes information on availability, waiting times and prices at different stations across Europe. This will allow all vehicle drivers to make informed decisions about where to refuel.

MEPs also suggest that more hydrogen refueling stations should be set up along main EU roads at shorter intervals (every 100 km instead of 150 km) and sooner (by 2028 rather than by 2031).

They Also Set Standards For Marine Hydrogen

European Parliament members also voted on their position concerning proposed EU rules about using renewable and low-carbon fuels for maritime transport. They want the maritime sector to cut down greenhouse gas emissions from ships by 2% starting in 2025, 20% starting in 2035, and 80% starting in 2050 compared to 2020 levels (the Commission had proposed a 13% and 75% reduction).

“This is by far the world’s most ambitious pathway to maritime decarbonisation,” said EP rapporteur on sustainable maritime fuels Jörgen Warborn. “Parliament’s position ensures that our climate targets will be met rapidly and effectively, safeguarding the maritime sector’s competitiveness and ensuring there won’t be carbon leakage or jobs leaving Europe.”

Ships responsible for 90% of CO2 emissions that are above a gross tonnage of 5000 would have to follow these guidelines. All energy used onboard in or between EU ports would be accounted for as well as 50% of energy used on voyages where the departure or arrival port is outside of the EU or in its outermost regions.

MEPs also set a target of 2% renewable fuel usage by 2030 and mandated that container ships and passenger ships use on-shore power supply while docked at main EU ports. This would significantly reduce air pollution not just in the ports, but also the areas surrounding them. MEPs are in favor of introducing penalties to ensure compliance. The revenues generated from these should go to the Ocean Fund and contribute to decarbonizing the maritime sector, energy efficiency, and zero-emission propulsion technologies.

Parliament voted 485 to 65, with 80 abstentions, in favor of the negotiating mandate on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure and 451 to 137, with 54 abstentions, for sustainable maritime fuels. Negotiations with member states can now begin.

The Wider “Fit for 55 in 2030” Package

The European Commission proposed a package of policies last year to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport, and taxation laws better equipped for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. This is in comparison to 1990 levels. Achieving these emission reductions in the next decade is crucial for Europe if we want it to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and making the European Green Deal happen.

The deals would involve: regulating emissions in new areas and increasing the power of the existing EU Emissions Trading System; using renewable energy sources more frequently; becoming more fuel efficient; rapidly expanding low emission transportation options along with building better supporting infrastructure and fuels for them; compatibility of taxation policies with European Green Deal objectives amongst member states without exception; measures to halt carbon tracing and righting environmental damage done through these activities up until now.

You can read the details of all this here.

The European Parliament also wanted to ensure that these proposals didn’t create problems for the poor and other disadvantaged groups. Even though the advantages of EU climate policies are obvious in the medium to long term, these same policies put extra pressure on transport users and vulnerable micro-enterprises in the short run. To prevent this from happening, they say they have designed these new policies to be more equitable so that everyone shares responsibility for adapting to climate change.

So, it’s pretty clear that the European Union at least has a good plan put together, and they’re now getting to the specifics, answering questions like, “How far apart should the stations be?” It’s good to see the process continue, and it’s also nice to see that even in a more complicated system like Europe, it’s still moving forward. Hopefully the negotiation process doesn’t muddy the waters too much.

Featured image by Chanan Bos, showing a Fastned charging station in Europe.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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