Discussion Papers

Nicole Angenendt, Christine Müller, Marcus Stronzik

E-mobility in Europe: Economic, legal and regulatory issues regarding the charging infrastructure

No. 367 / June 2012

(Full version only available in German)

Summary

We reviewed the main developments in four selected European countries in the area of e-mobility. These countries are Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (UK). Major fields of interest were regulatory aspects with regard to the deployment of charging stations, necessary changes of certain legislative provisions as well as support measures concerning the market for electric vehicles.

The four countries share the aim of taking a leading role on the international market for e-mobility. On the other hand, they approach this common goal quite differently. While the process in Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands is to a large extent driven by network operators (or affiliates) and municipalities, grid companies are less important regarding the developments in the UK. In the UK, municipalities together with motor manufacturers and charging infrastructure suppliers are the main driving forces.

So far, all four countries have not identified any need for major changes of the regulatory or legal framework conditions. In the medium term, the increasing electricity demand by electric vehicles is not expected to lead to structural problems regarding the existing electricity networks. Possible local bottlenecks seem to be manageable within the existing framework. Although final decisions are not yet taken, charging stations are not regarded as a natural monopoly. Thus, national governments currently restrain from taking any regulatory action concerning the charging infrastructure.

Beyond a considerable support of research and development activities, the countries provide additional incentives for individuals to buy electric vehicles. Widely used are grants, tax exemptions and local level incentives, such as free or subsidized parking and exemptions from congestion charges.

Although the countries are far from having successfully established a market for e-mobility, the Netherlands seem to be more developed than the others with already 56,000 electric vehicles on the road. At the lower end is Denmark, where e-mobility is still very much in the research stage. However, the involvement of a private investor aiming at a nation-wide roll-out of charging stations using the unique concept of battery change may accelerate the Danish process in the near future. A similar acceleration may be seen in the UK, since the roll-out is substantially supported by the UK government.

Discussion Paper is available for download.

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