Locomotion by means of an electric drive and a central component of a sustainable and climate-friendly transport system
Electromobility is the movement of a fully or partially electrically powered vehicle. For a long time, this was connected with the idea of trains. Now we are seeing electromobility more and more frequently in bicycles, cars and commercial vehicles. Electric vehicles can be charged at any power outlet. However, common household sockets can only be used to charge electric vehicles to a limited extent. Because of the charging power and the associated charging time, charging points (wallboxes or charging columns) specially developed for electromobility are the adequate solution. Here, the energy industry is an important partner for e-mobility, as it is responsible for a reliable, nationwide charging infrastructure.
The transport sector accounts for roughly one sixth of total CO2 emissions and therefore bears a major responsibility for reducing them. Since the fossil fuels gasoline and diesel have very poor efficiency levels, the emission-saving potential for cars is very high. The electric drive also offers a solution to the nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter problem in inner cities. Since e-vehicles drive with zero local emissions and the particulate matter from brake abrasion is largely eliminated by electric recuperation, only the tires remain as a source of particulate matter.
The acquisition costs are currently still somewhat higher than for comparable conventional vehicles. However, there are various incentive programs/premiums for the purchase of e-vehicles and, in addition, the costs for refueling are more favorable.
As a matter of fact, the first models of the e-car generation often had sobering results in terms of range. Theoretical ranges of 300 km could often shrink to around 150 km, especially in the winter months. However, the situation has changed in the meantime. With battery capacities of more than 60 kilowatt hours, ranges of around 400 km are possible. According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, the average daily mileage of drivers in Germany is currently 38 kilometers.
From the grid operators’ perspective, the current number of e-cars poses a challenge. Charging an e-car means an additional high power output over a comparatively long period of time. The main charging time is usually during the low-consumption nighttime hours; this is when around 50 million cars in Germany could be charged at the same time. This can be compared with the morning hours, when the lights and coffee makers are turned on and industrial plants are started up in parallel. It is clear that charging must be planned intelligently. If, in addition, photovoltaic expansion is oriented to demand, the load on the grids can even be reduced.
According to the German government’s charging infrastructure master plan, the goal is to have one million publicly accessible charging points for e-cars nationwide by 2030. In the 4th quarter of 2021, the number of charging stations in Germany was around 25,500, compared with around 21,400 in the same quarter of the previous year. Development continues to progress and the trend is upward. Nevertheless, there is still a need to accelerate expansion. According to experts, the largest share of the charging infrastructure is currently accounted for by non-public charging points (charging options at the place of residence or workplace).
For the charging time, the charging power provided at the charging stations is a significant factor. In most cases, an 11 kW or 22 kW charging point is sufficient for an electric car. However, there are also DC charging stations that offer higher charging power (up to 300 kW). Basically, charging stations are tailored specifically to individual needs.