The electric vehicle (EV) market is booming and widespread adoption of EVs is critical if countries are to realise their climate ambitions. But every new EV on the road increases the demand for convenient, affordable charging. The Energy Podcast investigates how the world is meeting this infrastructure challenge. Presented by Julia Streets. Featuring Elizabeth Connelly of the International Energy Agency, Lucie Mattera from ChargeUP Europe, Ingrid Malmgren of Plug In America and Shell’s Istvan Kapitany.
The Energy Podcast is a Fresh Air Production for Shell, produced by Annie Day and Sarah Moore, and edited by Molly Lynch and Sophie Curtis.
Shell The Energy Podcast
Season 4, Episode 3
Julia Streets: Today on The Energy Podcast…..
MUSIC BED COMES IN
Istvan Kapitany: When this is becoming really the global way of mobility, finally, we really need to be sorting out public charging.
Ingrid Malmgren: Through deliberate planning and innovation and organic growth, we're going to have chargers where we need them, when we need them, and we'll have a cleaner, more sustainable equitable transportation system.
Julia Streets: There can be little denial that the electric vehicle revolution is upon us. According to the International Energy Agency, sales of Electric Vehicles, or EVs, exceeded 10 million worldwide in 2022, and the global market is predicted to grow even further this year. This is good news for the nations relying on widespread adoption of EVs in helping them to realize their climate ambitions. If global carbon emissions are to reach net zero by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement, there will need to be 300 million EVs on the road by the end of this decade.
Such rapid growth intensifies the need for EV infrastructure, namely access to reliable, affordable charging. Ensuring that EVs match the cost and convenience of running a conventional fuel vehicle is crucial, not just for existing owners, but also in convincing more drivers to make the switch. Governments and businesses across the world are grappling with the infrastructure challenge created by the EV boom with varying degrees of success.
Hello, I'm Julia Streets, and today on The Energy Podcast we ask, are roads ready for EVs?
With me to discuss this are Elizabeth Connelly, transport analyst at the International Energy Agency. Lucie Mattera, Secretary General of the infrastructure industry association, ChargeUp Europe. Ingrid Malmgren, policy director at Plug In America, and Shell's Executive Vice President for Mobility, Istvan Kapitany.
I'm delighted that you're all with me today. Elizabeth, when you think about EV infrastructure, what's the global outlook?
Elizabeth Connelly: One thing to note about charging infrastructure right now is that most charging of electric cars occurs at homes, but a lot of the attention is around public charging, of course, because this helps enable people to own EVs that don't have access to home charging. Looking at the picture today, worldwide there are about we estimate 17 million home chargers for electric vehicles and that's compared to about three million public EV chargers.
In terms of who's leading the way with charging infrastructure, I don't want to say any one country is doing better or worse, because I think it really depends a lot on the setup of homes and whether people are living in detached homes or in multi- unit dwellings. So for example, in the US I think around 80% of EV owners live in single family homes and so it's really easy to charge at home and there's less pressure for there to be public charging infrastructure, at least in these early stages. While on the other hand, in China only about 50% of charging occurs at home.
So I think there are factors that make it very different across different regions around what is the right level of public charging infrastructure. For example, China accounted for 50% of electric light duty vehicles last year but 65% of the public charging infrastructure. So I think in that way China's leading, but I think there's also factors that make it you need to be leading in terms of public charging.
Julia Streets: I've heard some people talk about having quite deep- seated concerns about what they might call range anxiety, in terms of will you be able to get the mileage, the kilometrage that you are looking for.
Elizabeth Connelly: Sure. So at least in terms of cars, and I think trucks as well, range anxiety is a real concern. We see automakers in the car industry, and I think also in the truck industry, really looking at how they can increase EV range, especially in ways that maybe don't require larger and larger, heavier and heavier batteries. So thinking about these in-route charging, whether it be highway fast chargers like we've already seen across highways around the world or thinking about for trucks in particular rest stops, how long the rest time is and building in infrastructure that can facilitate charging in whatever amount of time. I think the US and the EU have different regulations on how long driver breaks should be for these long haul trucking segments. So really thinking about how the operations need to work in order to design the adequate infrastructure in a way that could help reduce as much as possible the power demand on the grid.
Julia Streets: Lucie, from your point of view, at ChargeUp Europe, what are your thoughts?
Lucie Mattera: So on range anxiety, what we are finding that this is a factor that is less prevalent today in terms of sort of slowing down the switch to EV charging. There was a recent consumer survey that was commissioned by the European Commission and what they found was the primary obstacle for the switch to EV was actually the price of the car rather than the range anxiety or the lack of infrastructure. So in terms of what came up first as an obstacle for a driver that's considering the switch to e-mobility, that was firmly on the top of the list.
Julia Streets: Ingrid, what do you think?
Ingrid Malmgren: I think that with regard to passenger vehicles, since so many people charge at home in the United States, for most people's day- to- day driving, range anxiety is not a huge issue. Most people drive around 30 miles a day and new EVs have ranges well over 250 miles a day. So many people only need to charge up every several days or once a week.
Julia Streets: Istvan, can I bring you in here? How important in the big debate about whether a motorist will make the switch to EV is the question of infrastructure?
Istvan Kapitany: It's very, very important and we are already charging in 30 countries in the world. So we are pretty much one of the biggest operator in terms of the reach. The United States is very different than China. So in China we have already well over 20,000 public chargers. Most of the people, of course, are not having the ability to charge at home, so we really need to be catering for that immediately.
In the United States, in different parts of the United States, you have the picture very different. And in Europe, we just did a survey now, whilst a year ago it was basically 33% of the people who didn't have charger at home, this is now 44% of the people who are driving EV cars do not have charger at home.
Why is it happening? Of course, after the early adapters it is becoming more and more mainstream activity, which is great. We see that people are buying this for commuting and therefore public charging is becoming a very important part of this equation. At the early stage, many people thought, oh, it's going to be all home charging. It is just not possible. We are in 84 markets and 90% of the people who fill up at Shell wouldn't be today with electricity or with fuel but wouldn't have an ability to charge at home. So when this is becoming really the global way of mobility, finally, we really need to be sorting out public charging.
Julia Streets: There's a huge element here about the growing availability of charging needed in convenient locations, whether they're from forecourts and streets to workplaces, retail car parks. I just want to pick up on this because we're going to take a quick trip to Germany where Carlo Cumpelik, Shell's network delivery manager for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, has been at an EV charging site in Berlin.
Carlo Cumpelik: I stand here in Berlin at Konrad -Wolf -Street at the parking lot next to the REWE Supermarket. REWE is one of Germany's leading food retail companies. This location is the very first REWE Supermarket where we installed our recharge charge posts.
In the beginning of this year, Germany crossed the magic number of over one million fully electric cars registered in the country. The German government expects 15 million electric cars on the streets by 2030. With this number of electric vehicles growing, our aim is to enable as many people to drive as many electric kilometres as possible, whether that is at home, at work, or on the go.
REWE opened their shops at our service stations in the Czech Republic and in Austria. In Germany, REWE asked us to deliver a fast charging experience for their customers at REWE Supermarkets and Penny Discounters. Currently, we already operate our charging solutions at 10 supermarkets and we plan to install Shell recharge charging posts at a minimum of 400 REWE Supermarkets and Penny Discounters across the whole of Germany.
Julia Streets: Carlo Cumpelik.
I suppose one of the things that we're thinking about is we talk about private charging and we talk about public charging, I'm wondering about almost what you might call municipal charging. I'd be really curious will we see some infrastructure innovation in terms of roads and road infrastructures, almost like the railways providing some charging capability.
Elizabeth, I'd love your thoughts on that.
Elizabeth Connelly: Sure. So I think a lot of the conversation around charging infrastructure has tended to be about light duty vehicle charging, but obviously electrifying trucks is I think much more complicated and will require some new innovative solutions. So in addition to the traditional box cable charging points that we've been talking about, I think particularly for these heavy duty vehicle segments for long haul trucking or even just medium- sized delivery trucks, there could be a place in the future for electric road systems.
So that could be either wireless inductive charging built into the road or it could be something that is a throwback where we have overhead cables that you've seen in trolley buses of the past. These things can help reduce demand on the grid from cable charging and spread out the power demand over the journey of the vehicle extending its range without needing these megawatt- scale fast chargers.
Julia Streets: So I wonder if we could change the conversation and look at it from a slightly different point of view, which is the obstacles, the hurdles to infrastructure, because this ultimately really matters when it comes to adoption. Ingrid, where do we see the biggest hurdles?
Ingrid Malmgren: The big issue in the United States is for charging for people who don't have access to home charging. People who live in multi- unit dwellings or multi- family dwellings. It's not just an accessibility issue, because it's far less convenient, but it's also an affordability issue.
For people who can't charge at home, they need to use public chargers, which typically cost between three and four times as much per kilowatt hour as your home charging rates. It's definitely a cost issue. So there's definitely an equity issue there, and that I think is the biggest hurdle that we're facing right now, particularly in cities.
Obviously, the distance between chargers is an issue and having access to public charging in places where there's far less demand for it. That tends to be the issue in rural areas. And then there's always an income issue. So if you rent in the country and you don't own your home, you're less likely to be able to install a charger. You'd have to get permission from your landlord. You wouldn't be able to recoup that money. So the income issue definitely can be exacerbated.
I think EVs could go either way. They could make transportation more equitable or, if they're not implemented well with charging, it could make it less equitable.
Julia Streets: Lucie, I'd love to hear your thoughts about where some of the hurdles may exist.
Lucie Mattera: In Europe, you will find some similar difficulties as Ingrid mentioned. It's about how do you make it a little bit more democratic for people who do not live in detached house but in multi-family buildings. You have examples of good practice across Europe to basically make that easier.
In France, you have a right to plug. Basically a tenant in a building can request to have a charging station installed in the building. You can also prescribe some electrification requirements for buildings that are being renovated so that it doesn't cost a fortune when you come in as a new tenant to get your EV charged at home.
On the point that you were making, Ingrid, indeed, the infrastructure will go where the demand is, and so you will have some of that imbalance between areas where you have a lot of EVs and areas where you have fewer EVs. The way Europe is trying to address that is by setting targets by law. So those targets are both capacity based and distance based. So they are dynamic, which means they will increase over time as the uptake of EVs increase, and again, as the number of EVs on the road increases, you'll see more charging infrastructure.
Adding to that a distance based target, which means you need to have enough infrastructure at a reasonable distance. They've set that both for HEVs and for EVs and that's coming into force next year and hopefully will address some of the difficulties or inequality in the spread of EV charging infrastructure we're seeing today across Europe.
Julia Streets: Istvan, I'd love to get your thoughts are on what are the main issues for businesses like Shell?
Istvan Kapitany: I see three main issues with EV for the society to deal with. One is it has to be available. Really need to be giving and offering all the support for the different kind of commercial ventures to build out. We order now more EV chargers at Shell Mobility than petrol pumps. That always surprises people. So we are obviously great believers of letting the business to make sure that it is becoming something which is a commercial venture that you can make money out of it.
Because if you build a system up on regulation too much, it's not going to be effective and not efficient. Therefore, it has to be commercially oriented. It has to be reliable, because that's our main job to make it a reliable experience for customers.
I was recently in a conference and I asked put up your hand if you had a problem with filling up with petrol. Nobody put it up. Put up your hand if you have a problem with using a public charger. Almost everybody put up their hand.
Finally, it has to be investable. So it has to be a business case which is making it profitable. Because if you're not able to make this business profitable at a normal price which people can afford, it's going to be very difficult to maintain.
Julia Streets: I'd love to bring in Elizabeth at this point. From a public sector versus private sector point of view, what more can policymakers and businesses do to help?
Elizabeth Connelly: Sure. Well, I think, I'm not going to say regulations are bad in this case. There can be carrots and sticks, but I think policymakers can do a lot to help ensure that there will be a business case.
So take for example the EU's alternative fuels infrastructure regulation. This is basically saying we need a certain coverage of charging infrastructure while at the same time they've passed CO2 standards that are really pushing forward zero-emission vehicles, including electric vehicles. So it's taking a kind of comprehensive approach, a suite of policies that help build demand for charging as well as putting in place metrics for how many chargers there need to be to ensure certain levels of utilization, and of course ensure that that drivers are able to recharge their vehicles.
So I think policymakers play a big role in helping push businesses to deploy infrastructure, invest in different types of infrastructure. So I think taking this really comprehensive approach, we've seen it not just in the EU, I think more recently with the IRA in the US. China's been doing it for ages. We've seen it in India with different schemes there. I think a lot of countries are really seeing how this works well and I think it's something that can really compliment businesses as well.
Julia Streets: Istvan, could you give us some examples of where you think businesses and policy makers are working well together?
Istvan Kapitany: I think the examples that Elizabeth used are very, very good examples. So basically to provide the policy framework is fantastic, and you use the example of the United States, the European Union, and it is really good because this is basically incentivizing you to do the job.
Where really business should be coming in is that then the playing field should be really levelled and we should be very, very careful with not over incentivizing or disincentivizing different kind of players. That is I think very important going forward.
The other area where I think business and policy makers, but particularly governments, should work together better is really areas like grid capacity, electrification. We do have over 150,000 chargers in the 30 countries where they are operational, but as we speak, we have hundreds of chargers that we cannot connect because there is no grid capacity available in that area. In some instances we are waiting as long as 18 months to two years because somehow that thing is really lagging behind.
Two areas I think we need to improve the game is the grid capacity. It's almost every country, so it's not country specific. Also, of course, which is another very important element for us, because we clearly would like to achieve our target to be an net zero company by 2050, that also the electricity that we are supplying is more and more renewable energy based. Because in some of the markets, the electricity grid and the electricity production is not green, it's quite far from it. So we need to be working on that as well and incentivizing that it happens.
Julia Streets: Lucie, would you agree with that and are there any other challenges you'd anticipate?
Lucie Mattera: Istvan is making a very, very good point about the grid connection and the need for grid upgrades. All of our CPOs are telling us this is the number one bottleneck for the deployment of EV charging infrastructure today. I'm talking about Europe. Istvan was talking about delays of 18 months up to two years, you have some markets in Europe where that can go up to three years to get your connection and permitting. So that of course is not acceptable in a context where you're trying to deploy as fast as possible, and of course, there’s a cost associated.
Julia Streets: I'm really curious to think about what we believe our roads will look like by 2050. Ingrid, I'd love to get your thoughts on this. What do you envisage?
Ingrid Malmgren: If I think ahead to 2050, I think that we won't give much more thought to driving electric and thinking about charging stations than we do now to driving on gasoline and pulling into a gas station. I think that through deliberate planning and innovation and organic growth that we're going to have chargers where we need them, when we need them, and we'll have a cleaner, more sustainable equitable transportation system.
Julia Streets: Elizabeth, your thoughts on what we think the roads will look like in 2050?
Elizabeth Connelly: The idea is that by 2050 almost everything is going to be electrified on the roads. But I think I want to take this opportunity to mention also the importance of reducing private vehicle ownership and moving to this public and shared mobility as a way to help moderate electricity demand. The kind of challenges we're talking about with building out the grid and the charging infrastructure can really be addressed by reducing the demand for electricity for transport in terms of using buses. I think this will be really important for transport in the future.
Julia Streets: Lucie.
Lucie Mattera: The broader context is climate neutrality by mid- century and that is now firmly in the books. So e-mobility, which has become even more mainstream, it is becoming more mainstream today, but it would be so mainstream by 2050 we won't even notice it anymore, it would just be the new normal. Greener cleaner roads and a brighter future for all of us.
Julia Streets: Wonderful. Thank you very much, Lucie. Istvan, your thoughts about what the roads will look like by 2050?
Istvan Kapitany: I agree with everybody who was saying that electric vehicles, whether it's passenger cars or heavy duty vehicles, will be playing a big part of the mobility system by 2050, and it has to be friction free and easy to use. More and more smart city solutions, more and more ride-sharing, car-sharing activities we will be seeing of course in the future.
But the one point, and the last point I would make, it has to be in the context of 200 countries in the world, not only just 40, and therefore we need to be ready for different kind of solutions all around the world to cater for every customers in this mobility journey.
MUSIC BED COMES IN
Julia Streets: Well, I have to say it's been a phenomenal conversation, because in a really short period of time we've thought about the ambition, we've thought about the infrastructure, the dynamics of delivering infrastructure. We've also thought about some of the challenges, some of the hurdles. Clearly the opportunity is there, what the future may hold.
My thanks to Elizabeth Connelly, Lucie Mattera, Ingrid Malmgren, and Istvan Kapitany.
You've been listening to The Energy Podcast, brought to you by Shell. Listen and follow for free wherever you get your podcasts so you don't miss a single episode.
Next time, we'll be discussing what role can oil and gas play in the energy transition?
The Energy Podcast is a Fresh Air production and I must remind you that the views you've heard today from individuals not affiliated with Shell are their own and not Shell plc or its affiliates.
I'm Julia Streets, thank you for listening. Until next time, goodbye.