Electric cars: are there enough charging stations for today's fleet and tomorrow's boom?

Electric cars: are there enough charging stations for today’s fleet and tomorrow’s boom?

While the number of electric vehicles is constantly increasing, charging points will have to multiply, which will increase electricity needs.

With the agreement reached this Thursday by the European Union on the end of sales of vehicles with a combustion engine by 2035, our modes of circulation will be turned upside down. The number of electric and plug-in hybrid cars, which should exceed one million before the end of the year, will increase considerably. There could be 15.6 million in circulation in 2035 according to a study carried out by Enedis and RTE, two electricity transmission networks. To accommodate these newcomers to the roads, the supply of public rechargeable terminals will have to be expanded. France currently has more than 67,000 according to the latest barometer from the association for the development of electric mobility Avere France. The Ministry of Transport’s initial target was 100,000 terminals by the end of 2021, but this should not be achieved before 2023. “Progress is relatively slow in France, observes Mathias Lafont, director of uses and territories of the French Electricity Union (UFE). We were ahead of Germany but today they overtook us.»

France has a charging point for 14 electric vehicles in circulation. Occitanie is the region with the best ratio (1 to 10), while others lag behind, such as Corsica, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur or Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, with ratios ranging from one terminal to 16 to one terminal for 21 cars. “There is no roadmap at the national level, it is the local authorities that have a hand in the matter, highlights Flavien Neuvy, economist and director of the Cetelem observatory. Each one follows their own ambitions, so the results are not homogeneous”.

The highway network should also speed up its transition. Electric cars have a range of 400 kilometers on average, 650 for top-of-the-range models. Therefore, recharging them is essential for certain long trips. According to an Ipsos survey for Vinci Autoroute, 31% of users want more terminals in service areas. Currently only 60% of them are online “but the amount decreases when it comes to very powerful terminals”, Mathias Lafont points out.

If we usually talk about public charges and roads, we must not forget about those necessary at home and in companies. In fact, 90% of users charge their vehicles at home or at work. In recent years, the law has evolved to encourage employers to equip themselves, while individuals are entitled to a tax credit and VAT reduction for the purchase and installation of plugs, whose global price ranges between 1,200 and 2,000 euros.

However, a question arises: will our electricity grid be able to support the consumption of electric vehicles? The example of California says it all: faced with the threat of network failure, the authorities have prohibited charging in certain time slots. According to the French company Selectra, which specializes in comparing electric offers, a fleet of 15.6 million electric cars would consume approximately as much per year as the Paca or Normandy regions. And if they were all recharged at the same time, that would represent eight times the energy that the city of Paris uses in winter.

“With a crippled nuclear fleet, a delay in renewables deployment, this may sound like a lot. But the situation will not be the same in 2035, tempers the director of the association. It is also possible to move the recharge to a time when the electrical network finds little tension”. To do this and without the need to go to the place of recharging, some terminals offer a control system with time programming. Better yet, in the future, the recharging point will be able to supply energy to the home or business. Ultimately, the mechanism will help reduce hours of stress. When a problem becomes a solution.

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