Maxwell Philp, Head of Communications & Public Affairs Plugsurfing. Foto: Plugsurfing

Charging parks instead of e-fuels

The mobility sector is currently one of the main sources of harmful emissions and must therefore be transformed with a view to the future. Maxwell Philp, Head of Communications & Public Affairs at mobility provider Plugsurfing, believes that e-fuels should not play a role in this and explains in the current eMove360° magazine in german language what this means for our filling stations and the mobility transition.

Filling stations are out – at the same time, the charging infrastructure for e-cars is being expanded in a way that shows drivers that electrically powered vehicles are much more than just cars. They are an innovative technology with great potential for the future.

The status of electric cars has gained massive momentum in recent years. Around twelve years ago, electromobility was only a cause for celebration for the so-called innovators, i.e. the first 2.5 percent to adapt an innovation. In the meantime, the German government has also recognized that electric cars are essential for a sustainable future. This is why it has called for 15 million such vehicles to be on German roads by 2030. So it’s no wonder that as interest in this technology grows, so too does the number of charging stations in Germany. Today, the Federal Network Agency’s register of charging points contains 69,925 normal charging points and 13,261 fast charging points (as of February 2023). In comparison: according to Statista, owners of combustion engines now only have 14,453 charging stations at their disposal (as of 2022).

Filling stations have had their day

E-car drivers are more environmentally friendly on the road than anyone who uses a combustion engine. But it’s not just the environmental aspect of electric cars that shows clear advantages over traditional refueling. Instead of driving to filling stations, e-car drivers can charge virtually anywhere: in the parking lot in front of the office, in front of the supermarket or at home.

This means that the vehicle charges while its users are doing something else at the same time and is ready to drive again as soon as it needs to be taken from A to B. Charging works in a similar way to a smartphone: plug in and “top up”. E-drivers only have to worry about this as soon as they cover a longer distance – during a vacation trip, for example. Charging at public charging stations works very simply via alternating current, which is converted into direct current in the vehicle’s own converter, the so-called OBC. If you need to charge more quickly, there are also various DC charging stations available that e-car drivers can use to charge with direct current. This eliminates the need for conversion in the car.

The simple charging technology combined with the sustainability benefits of electric vehicles will make traditional filling stations superfluous in the future. One alternative is “charging stations” for electric vehicles – a collection of several charging points set up on busy roads. In this way, waiting times for free charging points on popular routes can be reduced to a minimum. This development would not only make the classic filling stations “obsolete”, it would also be an important step towards the final end of the combustion engine. The current debate, which envisages the licensing of combustion engines from 2035 if they are refueled exclusively with e-fuels, does nothing to change this.

E-fuels jeopardize the transformation of the mobility sector

But why are vehicles fueled with e-fuels not even suitable for a mobility symbiosis alongside e-cars? It is clear that the mobility sector, which is one of the largest emitters in Germany, must transform itself sustainably as quickly as possible. However, e-fuels are expensive – and current forecasts suggest that this will not change any time soon. In addition, they are not as environmentally friendly as is often communicated – after all, they emit the CO2 that was previously extracted from the air for their production, for example, when driving. As a result, the carbon dioxide content in our atmosphere remains the same. A real reduction in CO2 emissions, on the other hand, can be demonstrably achieved through electromobility. And when it comes to electricity consumption, e-cars are also ahead: they only require a fifth of the electricity needed by combustion engines that run on e-fuels.

Society needs to rethink!

Whether diesel, petrol or e-fuels – filling stations offer no options for future-oriented mobility solutions and are therefore an opponent of the mobility transition. In order to achieve the ambitious climate targets and decarbonize the mobility sector, several factors must be taken into account. On the one hand, politicians must commit to a clear strategy instead of regularly switching to supposed solutions that are often based on clear economic interests. On the other hand, the relevance of society must not be ignored. Mobility is a basic need in many countries, including Germany. It is important that citizens are informed about sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility solutions. At the same time, however, every individual has a responsibility to critically question their own behavior. However, a collective rethink will take time. Every day, social media shows us how quickly we can adapt to change. It would be desirable if we could also transfer this ability to our mobility behavior.

The author Maxwell Philp is Head of Communications & Public Affairs at mobility provider Plugsurfing.

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31.01.2024   |  

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