The successful emergence of electric vehicles heralds a new and positive energy era. Unfortunately, as a result, we in Belgium and a number of other European countries suffer from an acute shortage of charging stations. Since electric cars are of little use without charging stations, this is a problem that must be swiftly addressed. In fact, sales of electric vehicles are increasing twice as fast as the installation of charging stations.
In the past 3 years, the number of electric vehicles sold in the EU has doubled. Alas, the number of public charging stations has not followed this development. At present, there are 38 fast chargers in Flanders, mostly along the motorways. This is very little. As a result, the owner of an electric car has no guarantee that he will be able to charge his vehicle when he gets to a charging point. If this problem persists in the long term, people will again become discouraged from purchasing an electric vehicle.
In Europe, more and more fast charging stations or DC charging stations are being installed, for example, along the motorways. Such installation takes about 3 years in Belgium. At our northern neighbours in the Netherlands, it usually takes about 4 months. In our country, the procedure is also somewhat more complicated than in the Netherlands. Permits must be applied for, which, in turn, must be approved; the grid operator must prepare the installation. … Municipal authorities are also not really familiar with the technology. Under the current complicated permit procedure, the approval of such permits can, as a result, drag on for a very long time. After a public review, the file must be declared admissible. By then, most procedures have already been in progress for 2 to 3 months. After that, the decision still has to be made and a period for appeal can be set. Therefore, a typical procedure can take between 6 and 9 months to complete. Only then can the work begin.
It is ironic – such a long procedure for charging stations where you can recharge your vehicle in about 15 minutes to get 100 kilometres further, or even more! This type of charging stations also requires a huge amount of energy. As a result, it often happens that there is insufficient capacity for its installation. Solving such problems slows down the process even more. The further away from the nearest electrical substation, the more extensive the work to connect such charging stations to the electricity network.
DC charging stations are also the most expensive types. The costs usually rest entirely on the shoulders of the initiator. In the end, the initiator often comes to the conclusion that the profitability of such a charging station is limited.
If the Flemish Government were to amend the decree on permits for charging stations, part of the problem would already be solved, namely the long waiting time. If the permit procedure were to be replaced by a notification procedure, the work could start already after 2 to 4 weeks. Also, more research needs to be done on the growing demand for electric cars. With a clear plan, the right locations can be selected so that the installed charging stations can sufficiently provide for electric cars. The government could also give the initiators a financial helping hand for installing charging stations by granting them a subsidy.
DC chargers or fast chargers work on direct current. AC chargers for electric vehicles charge your vehicle more slowly, but there are still a number of advantages. Thus, such charging stations support electric cars of all types, including those that are not suitable for fast charging. AC chargers do not need an inverter and are, therefore, easier to install. These standard AC charging stations are also much cheaper than the fast chargers. Therefore, if more companies and private individuals invest in such charging stations, the shortage of fast chargers in Flanders will become less problematic.
If you can use a AC charging station at a location where your car is parked for a long time, such as in the parking lot of your workplace or at home, the fact that charging takes somewhat longer is not a problem anymore. Many companies are already investing in their own charging stations for their electric company cars, for themselves or for their staff. And private individuals are also increasingly considering purchasing their own charging station. Those who have at their disposal reliable charging stations make themselves independent of the available public facilities and can fully enjoy the freedom offered by electric cars.
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