Europe has been gearing up to achieve its carbon neutrality goal by 2050 as part of the European Green Deal. The European Commission’s (EC) Fit-for-55 package sets an interim target of reducing emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). The path to a net-zero emissions economy requires all sectors to make vital contributions. For the transport sector, which contributes close to one-fifth of European Union (EU) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the EC sets a goal of zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new vehicle sales by 2035. In this context, the EV uptake and roll-out of charging infrastructure needs to speed up in the coming decade.
Until recently, the lack of charging infrastructure has often been cited as a key reason for slow and reluctant EV adoption by drivers. However, a recent report released by the European Federation of Transport and Environment (T&E) – ‘Charging’ for phase-out: Why public chargers won’t be a block on EU’s combustion car phase out’ has made it clear that the lack of charging infrastructure will not hinder future EV uptake and phasing out of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to achieve EU’s car CO2 targets.
Global Transmission Report presents the progress made in the EU’s public EV charging infrastructure as well as the forecast for the future as highlighted in the latest T&E report.
Progress so far
Over the past few years, deployment of public charging infrastructure across the EU has grown substantially with swift EV market penetration. By the end of 2021, the 27 countries of the EU (EU-27) had 3,38,191 public chargers in place. This was triple the numbers recorded in 2018 and about 1.75 times that in 2020. EVs themselves have grown by more than five and half times between 2018 and 2021 from 0.7 million to 3.8 million. This shows that market dynamics are gaining momentum as chargers follow the EV market growth.
According to the European Alternative Fuels Observatory (EAFO) data, in 2021, over 90 per cent of the total installed public chargers were based on alternating current (AC), while the rest were direct current (DC) chargers. Close to three quarters of the total public chargers were medium speed AC points with power between 7.4 kW and 22 kW. That said, DC chargers witnessed a substantial year-on-year growth of close to 164 per cent, growing from 18,542 in 2020 to 30,329 in 2021. Over half of the chargers in 2021 were fast DC recharging points with power between 50 kW and 150 kW at 16,425 chargers.
Among the EU-27 countries, the top five countries accounted for over three quarters of the total recharging points. These are the Netherlands (91,739 recharging points or 27 per cent), Germany (62,711 points or 18.5 per cent), France (54,653 points or 16 per cent), Italy (26,860 points or 7.9 per cent) and Sweden (20,201 points or 5.9 per cent). In fact, the top three countries accounted for almost the same levels of EVs registered in the EU. Notably, the utilisation rate of the charging network is growing in countries where EV adoption is taking place the fastest. Thus, public charging networks could eventually be self-sustaining systems without the necessity for extra public support.
Figure 1: Growth in EVs and EV public chargers in EU (million)
Figure 2: Number of public AC recharging points in EU
Figure 3: Number of public DC recharging points in EU
Figure 4: Top 5 EU countries by number of public EV charging points in 2021
AFIR proposal for public chargers
To ensure that EU countries promote the deployment of publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure as the electric car market is entering the mainstream and growing rapidly, EC presented the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) proposal in July 2021, within the scope of the Fit-for-55 Package of the Green Deal. It obliges its 27 member countries to ensure there is a public charging network that is adequate to satisfy the charging needs of their respective EV fleets.
It is intended to accelerate and harmonise the implementation of charging infrastructure within the EU. This proposal turns the existing Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive (AFID) into a regulation. For the light-duty vehicle (LDV) segment, the target is to provide a comprehensive, EU-wide public charging infrastructure for EVs in every member country. It includes specific distance and fleet-based charging targets for each EU country. With regards to the former, it proposes a mandatory charging pool every 60 km along the EU’s main highways from 2025 onwards and along its secondary highways from 2030 onwards for EU’s most frequently used roads. Specifically, countries must ensure at least 300 kW installed capacity every 60 km in each direction on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) core network by 2025 and 600 kW installed capacity by 2030. The proposal requires countries to install public chargers in accordance with the number of vehicles registered in their territory, which forms the fleet-based target. In line with this, member countries need to provide at least 1 kW of publicly accessible charging power for each battery electric vehicle (BEV) and 0.66 kW for every plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). AFIR also proposed additional provisions on the ease of payment, interoperability and smart charging.
Determining public charging infrastructure needs for 100 per cent electric sales – key factors
The AFIR fleet-based methodology is a flexible and demand-based approach, which ensures that deployment of chargers follows the actual charging demand. The right level of ambition under this approach is dependent on the actual energy needed at public charging points, which is in turn based on three factors, i.e., the share of public versus private charging, the average utilisation rate of the charging network and the anticipated future energy efficiency of EVs. The EC assumptions in this regard are 40 per cent public charging share, relatively low average utilisation rates of 2 hours (normal chargers) and 3 hours (fast chargers), as well as a realistic energy consumption (14.8 kWh/100 km by 2030).
In order to determine the required number of chargers, the report considers three key variables –the anticipated number of EVs, the required minimum power output per EV and the assumed division of chargers with a normal power output (<22 kW) and fast chargers.
The anticipated EV fleet is first and foremost dependent on the ambition of the CO2 standards regulation for cars and vans. For this, T&E has modelled the amount of public charging that will be available in the different light-duty EV (cars and vans) uptake scenarios: the Commission proposal based on AFIR (EC scenario), the European Parliament’s lead committee draft report by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI draft report) and T&E’s own Green Deal compatible trajectory (Road2Zero). The ENVI draft report published in December 2021 is aimed at strengthening CO2 emission performance standards of new passenger cars and vans in line with the EU’s increased climate ambition.
T&E also ran the scenario with the power per EV recommendation from the EU car industry lobby, European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), which recommended targets of 3 kW per BEV and 2 kW per PHEV for 2030 (which is triple that of the AFIR proposal). These are based on the assumptions of 60 per cent public charging share, extremely low average utilisation rates of just 3.75 per cent or 0.9 hours per day (normal chargers) and 6.5 per cent or 1.55 hours per day (fast chargers) and high energy consumption (20 kWh/ 100 km by 2030). The T&E paper is critical of the automotive industry’s approach as it would lead to a charging network that is not economically viable. T&E further points to a recent report commissioned by ACEA, which mentions that the average utilisation rate of the network needs to be at 15 per cent to make a network economically viable.
In fact, T&E’s recommendation for publicly accessible EV chargers is based on the charging industry’s recommendations (ChargeUp Europe’s position on AFIR 2021). Overall, it suggests that EC’s ambition should be kept in the long term but the power output per BEV should be temporarily increased if the share of BEV in relation to the total LDV fleet is below 7.5 per cent, while also introducing further sub-targets for lower BEV shares (details given subsequently).
Finally, with regard to the split between normal and fast chargers, the AFIR proposal does not stipulate any specific method to distribute the required power output between normal and fast chargers. That said, the impact assessment accompanying the proposal estimates that 57 per cent of the delivered public charging energy will be provided through normal chargers with an average nominal power output of 7.7 kW. The remaining 43 per cent will be provided via fast chargers with an average nominal power output of 130 kW. It may be noted that EC assumed fast chargers only for BEVs and only normal chargers for PHEVs. This would result in a long-term share of fast chargers of around 5 per cent.
The report also includes a T&E alternative scenario based on the assumption that only 52 per cent of charging energy will originate from normal chargers and the rest from fast chargers. Additionally, a higher nominal power output for normal chargers of 10 kW is assumed along with a lower nominal power output for fast chargers of 100 kW. These assumptions would result in a long-term share for fast chargers of 8.5 per cent.
Future EV and EV charging infrastructure needs
The anticipated EV fleets in all three scenarios considered align with the total phase-out of ICE vehicles by 2035, while the interim targets vary. The EC proposes to increase the CO2 reduction of the entire new car fleet to 55 per cent in 2030, while the ENVI scenario recommends 75 per cent and the T&E recommendation is 80 per cent. The 2025 targets under the three scenarios are 15 per cent, 25 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. Based on these assumptions, the total anticipated PHEV fleet of cars based on T&E’s own model is as follows:
Figure 5: Expected growth in EVs and EV public chargers in EU (million)
Based on the AFIR proposal of 1 kW per BEV and 0.66 kW per PHEV, EU countries need to deploy about 1.15 million to 1.51 million public chargers by 2025, 1.74 million to 2.59 million by 2027, 3.27 million to 5 million by 2030 and 8.17 million to 10.4 million by 2035—all subject to the different CO2-standard scenarios. Under the fleet-based target, the distribution among EU countries could be improved, particularly in countries with low EV shares, to ensure an overall comprehensive network.
If policymakers follow the ACEA recommendations of 3 kW per BEV and 2 kW per PHEV, countries would need to provide between 3.5 and 4.6 million public charging points across Europe in 2025, between 5.2 million and 7.8 million in 2027, between 9.8 million and 15 million in 2030 and between 24.6 million and 31.3 million in 2035. In the near future, higher targets could be helpful in select countries to ensure a minimum coverage and accelerate deployment. Post 2030, such high targets would lead to a massive over-deployment of public chargers for all countries and therefore a large number of stranded assets.
Finally, the last scenario analysed would result in 1.6 million to 1.9 million public charging points in 2025, 2.1 million to 2.9 million in 2027, 3.6 million to 5.1 million in 2030 and 8.3 million to 10.4 million in 2035. From 2030 onwards the numbers are largely congruent with the numbers in the AFIR proposal. The report states that the EV share in many countries in northern and western Europe will be relatively high in the latter half of this decade, while the uptake will most likely be delayed in some southern and eastern European countries.
Figure 6: Forecast of required public EV chargers in 5 key EU countries (‘000)
Expected public charger needs in key countries
The report further gives details of the public charger requirements in five EU countries with the largest populations – Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland.
- Germany: It is the largest vehicle market within the EU. With roughly 50 million LDVs registered in 2018, it accounts for close to one-fifth of all LDVs in the EU. Though the country was initially not one of the front runners, EV adoption has accelerated significantly over the past few years. Under the Road2Zero CO2 reduction pathway, 66 per cent of all LDVs will be BEVs in 2035. Accordingly, Germany would need to install 5,72,500 public charging points by 2025, around 9,28,500 by 2027, 1.69 million by 2030 and over 3.17 million by 2035.
- France: The country accounted for 14 per cent of all LDVs registered (about 38 million) in the EU in 2018. The EV uptake in France is expected to be very similar to that in Germany. The number of charging points required by AFIR would be between 2,57,000 (following the AFIR proposal) and 327,500 (following the T&E recommendation) in 2025; 4,28,000 in 2027; 8,36,000 in 2030; and 1.83 million in 2035.
- Italy: Italy accounted for 16 per cent of all registered LDVs (over 43 million LDVs) in the EU and is behind Germany. The EV share in Italy is, however, expected to grow at a slower pace than that in France or Germany. Therefore, Italy is expected to deploy, under the Road2Zero CO2 standard scenario, 1,19,500 (AFIR proposal) to 2,07,500 (T&E recommendation) public charging points in 2025; 2,25,000 (AFIR) to 3,45,500 (T&E) by 2027; 4,96,000 by 2030; and 1.24 million by 2035.
- Spain: Accounting for 10 per cent of EU’s total LDV fleet with about 28 million cars and vans registered in 2018, Spain is among the countries (along with Italy) where EV adoption is taking place on a larger scale but is significantly slower than in the northern European markets. Spain would need to deploy between 97,000 (AFIR) and 1,47,500 (T&E) public chargers by 2025; 1,92,000 (AFIR) to 2,69,000 (T&E) by 2027; 4,20,500 by 2030; and 9,78,500 in 2035.
- Poland: With around 26 million registered LDVs, Poland accounted for another 10 per cent of the EU’s total LDV fleet. T&E estimates that the EV uptake will be significantly slower in Poland than in the other analysed countries. Poland would need to deploy between 27,000 (AFIR) and 48,500 (T&E) public chargers in 2025; between 59,000 (AFIR) and 1,01,500 (T&E) in 2027; 1,39,500 (AFIR) to 2,21,000 (T&E) in 2030; and 3,55,500 in 2035.
While the T&E analysis shows that the EC’s AFIR ambition is sufficient for a phase out, it recommends targeted modifications to the fleet-based charging infrastructure targets by fixing an absolute minimum target as a safeguard mechanism in low EV penetration countries to enable growth (see Table 1). This will oblige such countries to provide sufficient infrastructure until their public charging markets reach a certain maturity. Further, irrespective of the BEV share, each country should provide the minimum charging infrastructure sufficient for at least 2 per cent EV share in 2025, 5 per cent in 2027 and 10 per cent in 2030.
Table 1: T&E recommendation for minimum power output per BEV in fleet-based targets
|BEV share of vehicle fleet||Less than 1%||<2-5%||<5-7.5%||Above 7.5%|
|Binding infrastructure target (kW/BEV)||3||2||1.5||1 (no binding target)|
Another key recommendation pertains to the application of the distance-based charging targets, which are subordinate to the fleet-based targets, to the entire TEN-T road network (TEN-T Core and Comprehensive) to ensure seamless travel throughout the EU from 2025 onwards.
Finally, it recommends that AFIR should make it mandatory for medium and large commercial properties to equip 15 per cent of their parking spaces with publicly accessible chargers. This will enable people in urban areas without access to private charging to charge their EVs in such parking places.
Though the report covers only public chargers, it gives recommendations for improving private charging uptake given it will continue to account for the majority of the charging infrastructure. It acknowledges that EC’s new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) proposal will help in improving deployment of private chargers in new buildings and buildings undergoing major renovation – with all parking spaces having to be ‘EV-ready’ and pre-cabled for possible future charging points. However, it points out that the proposal is weak when it comes to requirements for existing residential buildings, which make up the majority of all buildings in the EU. T&E thus recommends having pre-cabling requirements for all parking spaces for all existing buildings (>3 parking spaces) at the latest by 2035 with intermediate targets of 15 per cent by 2027 and 30 per cent by 2030. For publicly owned or occupied buildings, all parking spaces should be pre-cabled by 2030 at the latest. To mitigate the entry barriers to e-mobility, the EPBD should guarantee a ‘right to plug’ to ensure that the gap between the application for a private charging point and the actual installation is no longer than three months.
T&E’s latest report indicates that public charging infrastructure deployment in Europe is largely on track and matches the accelerating EV uptake. The mandatory fleet-based targets in EC’s AFIR proposal would ensure that the number of public chargers is on par with the number of EVs. Going forward, EV charging infrastructure, both public and private, will play a vital role in ensuring that the EU achieves its zero-emission goals for the road transport sector. Policymakers should therefore focus on the smooth deployment of all types of charging infrastructure in the most efficient manner.