If you tell family or friends that you're thinking about buying an electric car, you'll quickly get into a debate at the regulars' table level. Skepticism is almost always expressed or derisive comments follow: One criticizes the allegedly insufficient range of electric cars, the next the long charging times – and still others argue that electromobility is not suitable for the mass market, because our power grids are not even capable of handling the load it creates. The German government, on the other hand, expects that seven to ten million electric vehicles will need to be on German roads by 2030 to meet climate targets. Do the nets really not create that?
We take a look at the most common claims and assumptions – and dare to do a fact check.
Myth 1: Everyone is always at the e-charging station and has to wait forever for their car to be fully charged.
D t's simply wrong, because e-cars can already be charged at a variety of very different charging points: Just not only at the classic "gas stations," but also at home, in public underground garages, and in company and customer parking lots. The National Organization Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology shows in its study "Charging infrastructure after 2025/2030" that this mix of different charging points is scalable without major difficulties. Another important prediction of the study: in 2030, according to the calculations, a charging point will be available at around 61 percent of private parking spaces at the place of residence. This improved availability of private charging infrastructure and a parallel increase in the charging capacity of vehicles even relaxes the need for publicly accessible charging points in perspective, the study says.
Myth 2: With batteries running low, you'll be stuck on the road all the time.
B he average range of an electric car in 2019 was already around 324 kilometers, more than double the range in 2011, the study says "Status quo of electromobility in Germany" by the VDA. And if battery technologies continue to develop as they have in recent years, this range will increase to more than 750 kilometers by 2025. The range advantage of the "combustion engine" is therefore constantly decreasing. Apart from that, it is only necessary to fully charge the battery for long-distance journeys – after all, even gasoline or diesel vehicles are not always on the road with a full tank of gasoline for shorter journeys. Those who use their car primarily for commuting often get by with a daily range in the double-digit kilometer range, because for years the average commuting distance in this country has only been around 16 kilometers.
Myth 3: If the seven to ten million electric vehicles called for by the German government are on German roads by 2030, our power grids will collapse under the load.
"D t's not what they're going to do," says Dr. Patrick Jochem, Head of the Energy Systems Analysis Department at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). "Already today, transmission grids are capable of meeting the electricity demand for a massive expansion of electromobility."The situation is still somewhat different in the distribution networks, but here, too, there are definitely ways and means of giving electromobility the necessary boost in practice. First and foremost, we need to get a handle on the phenomenon of simultaneity, says Erik Landeck, managing director of the distribution network operator Stromnetz Berlin: "If all the residents in a city were to blow-dry their hair at exactly the same time with two kilowatts, the distribution networks would already be exposed to a massive load – but as we know, that doesn't happen."
With electromobility, on the other hand, the phenomenon of simultaneity could occur sooner. After all, if everyone who owns an electric car hooks up their cars for charging after work between 5 and 6 p.M., the load limits of the distribution grids can be reached. That's why legislators and the energy industry are working together on solutions for time- and demand-controlled charging. Legislators have defined the framework: Charging stations and wallboxes are only subsidized if they can be controlled remotely and thus allow concerted charging management. In practice, the smart wallbox at home will be controlled via a smartphone app. The app can be used to set the minimum – or maximum – range that the car usually needs on the following day. This can be chosen on a day-to-day basis, or it can follow a forward-looking calendar plan.
If you have a photovoltaic system, you can also integrate it into the system – and, for example, have your car automatically charged during the day at the weekend when the PV system is producing full power. If there is also a stationary battery storage system on site, this in turn can also help to make charging times more flexible.
N a, that's the sound of the present. The ISO 15118 standard already contains binding regulations on how the "grid-suitable charging" outlined above should work. If an individual, flexible charging schedule is calculated for each electric car, the available capacity can be used optimally. Intelligent energy management together with controllable charging equipment recognizes when electricity from renewable sources is available and gives this electricity priority during the charging process. If the electricity is needed in the household for other purposes, the charging process can be interrupted and continued later. And in addition, the free capacities in the power grids are taken into account. If such solutions spread, numerous smart local grids will emerge.
Myth 5: Electric cars as electricity storage – it's just a pipe dream.
D he opposite is true: electromobility can actually support the power grids, says Patrick Jochem of DLR, because electric cars are not just consumers of electrical power: "It would be a shame if we didn't use the powerful batteries in cars to serve the grid. Our cars today are parked for more than 23 hours a day. If one day we have ten million electric vehicles on the market, we calculate that together they could store about one-third of Germany's current daily electricity demand."Such intelligent vehicle-to-grid solutions are able to compensate for dark periods and other bottlenecks. Nevertheless, it won't be possible to do it completely without grid expansion, says Dr. Erik Landeck of Stromnetz Berlin: "In principle, of course, the distribution networks are planned and reinforced in such a way that simultaneity is possible within the usual household framework. Coffee making at any time of day will therefore always be possible.