"Electric cars can be charged without harming the grid "Almost every week, a car manufacturer presents its latest electric vehicle. So the chances are good that the number of electric cars sold will soon increase rapidly. But what does this mean for the power supply in Switzerland?? Christoph Schreyer, Head of Mobility at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, gives an outlook.
– 16. January 2019 electric mobility, eco-driving electric car, electric car driving, electric car charging, electric mobility
Read the entire interview with Christoph Schreyer below:
The production of batteries for electric cars is very energy-intensive and dependent on limited resources. Do the advantages of electromobility compensate for this disadvantage?
Christoph Schreyer: In Switzerland, definitely, because our electricity mix is very low in CO2 emissions. Even taking into account the energy required to manufacture the electric car and its battery, CO2 emissions in this country are significantly lower than those of a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. Current life cycle assessments such as our recently published Fact sheet show impressively that the environmental advantage of electric vehicles is greater the more environmentally friendly the electricity they are charged with. When driving with electricity from fossil fuels, it takes much longer to offset the climate impact caused by the production of the e-car including the battery.
Christoph Schreyer, Head of Mobility at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy
In many places, you can choose the electricity product for charging your electric vehicle at home, but not for charging at public charging stations. What possibilities are there to influence the eco-balance of the electric car??
Fortunately, most operators of charging stations – including all major providers – already offer renewable electricity on their own initiative. In addition, the drivers of electric cars can use the Green electricity vignette Buy the desired amount of renewable electricity. This is electricity that carries the Swiss "naturemade star" quality label. It guarantees compliance with strict ecological criteria.
Are Mr. And Mrs. Swiss "green" electricity consumers when it comes to choosing the ecological quality of their electricity?
Already around one third of all Swiss households consciously choose electricity products from renewable energies. If consumers also use this electricity to charge their electric cars, they are on the road in a very environmentally friendly way.
The industry association auto-schweiz expects the number of electric cars and plug-in hybrids among new vehicles to grow rapidly in the coming years. Let's assume that the drivers of the e-cars opt for green electricity. Is the supply of green electricity even large enough to meet the additional demand?
Yes. The changeover to electromobility will not happen overnight, but step by step. And electricity production from renewable energies is increasing just as gradually. The Energy Strategy 2050 envisages a significant expansion in this area. At the same time, other electricity consumers such as electrical appliances or heating systems are becoming increasingly efficient, so that the renewable electricity is sufficient for more of these consumers. In addition, there is a European system for guarantees of origin. This means that Switzerland can also import electricity from renewable sources if necessary. The supervisory organization Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB) monitors that only as many guarantees of origin are traded as are registered in the European system.
The ecological added value is one thing. But how does it look physically: Will Switzerland today. Having enough electricity for electromobility tomorrow?
Yes, both today and tomorrow. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) has begun an analysis examined Switzerland's security of electricity supply. The results show that secure supply is guaranteed in the medium and long term, as long as Switzerland has sufficient power reserves and remains integrated in the European market. As an additional safety measure, the SFOE proposes a so-called storage reserve.
Are the power grids in Switzerland designed to handle the load of electric cars?
Basically yes. Because electric vehicles are largely "fueled" differently than cars with internal combustion engines: While they are parked – and electric cars, like all cars today, are parked for more than 23 hours a day – they can be charged slowly and in a way that is gentle on the grid. Even today, electric cars do not all draw power from the grid at the same time. With intelligent charging infrastructure, charging processes can be staggered much more closely to demand in the future. Thus also being better aligned with the current load on the network. Therefore, local network reinforcements are likely to be necessary at most.
In the future, electric cars will not only be a consumer of electricity from renewable energy sources. They can also serve as storage devices, helping to stabilize the power grid. How great do you consider this potential to be?
Although there are already various pilot projects in this field. But the potential is still difficult to assess. For electric cars to be able to store electricity, several conditions have to be met: First, a large number of electric vehicles and an intelligent charging infrastructure are needed. Second, e-cars need to enable bidirectional charging, meaning they need to be able to feed power back into the grid. Third, it is necessary for e-cars to be connected to charging stations during the day as well. And last but not least, financial incentives are needed to encourage owners to make their electric vehicles available as storage facilities.
How is the federal government helping to ensure that electromobility gains momentum in Switzerland – and in the most ecological way possible?
Currently, we are working with all the major players in the industry to make the Roadmap Electromobility 2022. It has the ambitious goal of increasing the share of electric vehicles (battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids) in new registrations to 15% by 2022. The federal government also supports electromobility through various measures and incentives, which it has included in its Report on electric mobility describes. CO2 emission regulations for passenger cars are an important instrument, for example. They provide strong incentives for increased sales of e-cars. In addition, electric vehicles are exempt from the 4% import tax on new cars. Do not have to contribute to the use of road infrastructure at the moment. In addition, the federal government promotes the sale of efficient vehicles with the help of the energy label and the activities of SwissEnergy. Last but not least, the Federal Roads Office is currently implementing a Application process for the operation of fast-charging stations at rest areas along national roads through. One of the requirements is that the electricity offered for charging electric cars must come 100% from renewable Swiss production.