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A group of Finnish energy providers have joined together to establish a new shared electric vehicle charging station network which collects the various energy companies’ various charging stations into a single shared network. This network, named Virtapiste or Power point, which provides members with access to any of the charging stations listed in the network, regardless of whether a particular station belongs to their provider or not. 
The network is open to all parties operating EV charging points or stations, such as municipalities, cities, shopping malls, parking garages, or drive-in fast food restaurants. Parties joining the network can then serve as charging station operators and offer their customer’s EV charging services. The network’s owners will provide operators joining the network with equipment and comprehensive support services as well as a unified payment system. Operators meanwhile retain the right to set their own prices and market the services under their own brands.  
In addition to establishing and servicing this network, Liikennevirta and Nissan will collaborate in an effort to expand Finland’s rapid charging network in cities and along highways throughout the country. 
 

The slow spread of electric vehicles among private citizens introduces new complications which had not become apparent while EVs remained a distinct minority. Homeowners and property managers are urged to consider the strain which the simultaneous charging of numerous EVs will impose upon their existing electrical networks. While EVs can indeed be charged using the same electrical outlets currently used for car heaters in the winter, these charging posts were designed to accommodate much lower levels of demand and will, thus, be insufficient to respond to the demands of a group of EVs charging at one time. Those posts and outlets installed from the 1990s onwards are more capable of dealing with this strain but even these may prove insufficient for full EV charging, which is estimated to be somewhere between six to seven times as intensive as the strain imposed by the simple vehicle engine heaters.

Parking garages and shared residential parking areas face an additional challenge as the electrical wiring could create an additional bottle neck in the distribution of electricity to individual charging posts, therefore contributing to the potential for an overload. As electric vehicles become an increasingly common sight the challenges they create for the electricity networks will only increase and spiral outwards. For example, as the number of electric vehicles being charged nightly in a single area increases, the overall supply of electricity delivered to the housing complex will cease to be sufficient to respond to this increased demand.

While these early days of widespread EV adoption do certainly pose a daunting series of challenges and new requirements, they should not be seen as an argument against the further growth of EV ownership as these issues are all ones which are easily solved through the joint efforts of motivated citizens, supportive public administrations, and concerned private sector players and organizations.

Read more about the challenges facing Finnish homeowners and property managers (In Finnish) 

More information on EV charging and its impacts on housing 

The EU Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, in a decision this Tuesday (November 26th, 2013), lent its support to a proposed law which would require EU member states to ensure that a specified number of electric vehicle charging points are built by 2020. These proposed measures are intended to help reduce dependence on oil and increase the use of alternative fuels and electricity in order to reach the targeted 60% reduction in transport greenhouse emissions by 2050. 
 
The charging points will utilize the European Commission supported “Type 2” connectors for regular charging and the “Combo 2” connectors for fast charging.
 
The minimum targets set for member states vary from state to state, with larger states such as Germany, France, and the UK being required to establish upwards of 50,000 charging points, while the targets set for other countries are much smaller, such as Finland’s 4000. 
 
The draft rules outline a process in which governments would develop plans for the construction of the required stations and enlist the aid of private sector entities in developing this infrastructure with government support in the form of tax and public procurement incentives. Furthermore, member states would be required to set in place national policy plans to guide support measures for the increased usage of alternative fuels. In the interest of combating the potentially negative consequences resulting from switching to electric transport before a truly green source of energy has been established, member state governments would also be required to ensure the availability of green electricity for use in these vehicles.
 
Furthermore, the law also addresses issues outside of infrastructure development and energy supply to remind member states that congestion management and public transport systems are also crucial elements in reducing overall emissions. 
 
 

Speaking at the 2013 Los Angeles motor show, the Volkswagen Group’s commissioner for electric vehicle drive systems Rudolf Krebs voiced doubts over the immediate future viability of hydrogen fuel cells as replacements for current electric drive systems. Krebs comments, and Volkswagen’s development strategy, run contrary to the general mood among other automotive manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai who are all engaged in full-scale hydrogen fuel cell development projects and aim to integrate this technology into future models.

Krebs, on the other hand, believes that this technology will not be realistically marketable until 2020 and, as such, Volkswagen has chosen to forgo the active development of this technology in favor of perfecting current EV drive system technology. This decision has caused some controversy as hydrogen fuel cell technology promises truly emission free transportation with unlimited driving range, whereas current technologies remain reliant on emissions heavy means of producing the electricity used to charge them, as well as facing limited driving range as a result of battery capacity. Volkswagen has confirmed that its vehicles will, nonetheless, be fully future-proof and compatible with hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Source: Article at autocar.co.uk

Following recent reports on the state of the Chinese government’s ambitious electric vehicle adoption plans which have yet to spark any notable increase in sales. As a consequence, support for these plans has subsequently begun to be scaled back while government authorities explore other potential avenues for reducing traffic sector emissions.

October saw the quiet introduction of a series of measures which, taken together, seem to indicate a shift away from the aggressive push to popularize electric vehicles, as evidenced in the 2008 plans which have failed to gain traction, and towards  a model which seeks to reduce the total number of vehicles on city streets. In addition to measures which would reduce the overall number of license plate permits by 40% over the next four years, this new approach also sets out to increase the share of EVs and hybrids on its roads, reserving a total of 40% of available license plates for these vehicles.

Furthermore, officials have also established tactics which would allow it them to cut the number of vehicles on city roads by as much as 50% whenever they fear risk of serious pollution or congestion, thereby reducing the amount of emissions released into the air temporarily while the level dissipates in the mean while. 

Source: NY Times article on new measures

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