Charging infrastructure is a crucial part to support the roll out of electric vehicles. Important choices have to be made on a city, regional, and country level about the required number, location (home-parking vs. public), and type of charging infrastructure (slow vs. fast, conductive vs. inductive vs. swapping). Many aspects need to be considered to make these decisions, such as user acceptance, user comfort, safety, standardization, and costs.
Making such decisions requires the involvement of all stakeholders: federal, regional and local governments, industry from different sectors (automotive, energy, mobility), academia, and regulators—and of course the users of the electric vehicles. Therefore, initiatives like the Belgian Platform on Electric Vehicles and the call for Living Labs Electric Vehicles in the Flemish region are very valuable for accelerating this process. The Flemish platform involves more than 600 charging points for public and semi-public locations. Most of these charging points will be implemented in 2012 and will offer charging capabilities for electric bikes, scooters, and cars.
The suppliers of charging infrastructure also play an important role in the new innovation platform, Smart Grids Flanders, which brings together various stakeholders to develop the future electricity grid in Flanders. One working group is dedicated to "grid connected vehicles" and is taking up the challenge to develop innovative charging solutions.
Charging point designs from various suppliers on the Belgian market.
Private companies have launched charging infrastructure initiatives in parking areas located on their own premises. A few hundred charging points have been installed by a variety of suppliers for clients such as LeasePlan, McDonalds, VinciPark, Eandis, K.U.Leuven, KHLim, and Toyota Motors Europe.
ASBE maintains a website that shows the charging locations on the web. Image courtesy of ASBE.
Most charging infrastructure in Belgium is currently located on privately owned or semi-public areas, but the first initiatives on public charging infrastructure began in 2010. Total Belgium took the initiative to invest in charging infrastructure at 12 of their service stations, where the user can choose the type of charge with different charging prices .
Charging station, interface, and membership card for Total Belgium‘s Plug to Drive network. Image courtesy of Total Belgium.
Commercial charging station suppliers indicate their awareness of the benefits of linking the charging station to renewable energy sources and talk about “green from well-to-wheel” solutions. In addition to the available solutions for charging electric vehicles today (conductive charging by using a cable), research is ongoing to study alternatives such as inductive charging. A research project is being conducted at Flanders’ DRIVE to study the possibilities of inductive charging while being parked and while driving.
Car-sharing companies like Cambio and public transport companies like NMBS railway have launched initiatives to integrate electric mobility more fluently into the whole mobility chain. These efforts are seen as valuable because such new mobility concepts are part of the complete solution to tackle the mobility challenges of the future: energy consumption, oil independence, emission levels, and traffic jams.