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18th Jan 2020

EU law to create market for electric cars

  • Sporty-looking electric car - but no plugs means no market, the commission says (Photo: asterix611)

Cars using alternative sources of clean energy are not finding a market due to a lack of fuelling stations and high price tags.

EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas told reporters in Brussels on Thursday (24 January) that member states must take the initiative to build the stations to help open the market, cut CO2 emissions and reduce dependency on oil.

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"We need to set targets to build the necessary fuel stations and make them compatible everywhere," he said.

Around 10 percent of the EU transport sector must run on renewable sources of energy by 2020 according to previous EU accords.

At the same time, the demand for energy is set to increase amid a dwindling supply of oil.

The hope is to reduce member state dependency on the fossil fuel that, according to an expert group on future transport fuels who advise the commission, will peak sometime this decade.

"Oil, the main energy source for transport overall, supplying 100 percent of road transport fuels is currently expected to reach depletion on the 2050 perspective," notes the Future Transport Fuels report penned by the advisory group in 2011.

For its part, the commission estimates daily oil costs for EU transport hovers around €1 billion but could increase given the political volatility of the regions where fossil fuel is most often located.

The Brussels executive wants to impose rigid guidelines and a minimum number of charging points for electrical vehicles to spur market demand as part of its legislative proposal on alternative fuels.

Member states will have 2020 as a deadline to meet the new targets with just under 10 million electrical vehicles expected around the same time.

The new terminal numbers vary widely among member states, with Germany having to put in the most at 150,000. It currently has just under 2,000 charging points, not enough for the some 1 million electric vehicles expected to hit its highways in the next few years.

Meanwhile, around a dozen member states have under 10 charging points like Hungary and Luxembourg.

“We also have to have one common plug for electric vehicles,” said the commissioner.

The Brussels-executive has settled on the German manufactured Type Two plug as an industry a EU-wide standard because it is currently the most widely used.

Electricity is not all the only alternative fuel source for cars. Hydrogen, biofuels, natural gas and liquefied natural gas are also in the mix.

The different energy sources will determine, to some extent, vehicle ranges.

Pro-green NGOs welcome the commission’s proposals to impose the infrastructure but caution that biofuels and liquefied natural gas still contribute to climate change.

“We don’t think that electrification is the Holy Grail of transport but it does offer better perspectives for low-carbon transport than liquefied natural gas,” Jos Dings, the director of Transport & Environment Brussels’ office, a pro-green advocacy network of 50 organisations, told this website.

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