Last week AVERE hosted its event “Electric Vehicles Are Here. What Now?” which gathered together European policymakers, industry representatives and international experts to discuss what is the best approach to enable the mass uptake of electromobility in Europe that is most likely coming in the very near future.
The debate covered key topics like best practices, the development of a network of infrastructure, the future of technologies and, most importantly, how we must quickly and smoothly transition to a zero-emission transport model if we want to stop climate change
The conference was kindly hosted by the Permanent Representation of Norway to the European Union. Norway State Secretary Allan Ellingsen provided a keynote speech where he presented to the audience his country’s success story: more than 240.000 EVs roll on Norwegian roads, a record that no other country on the world has been able to compete with yet.
The reasons behind such an achievements are many, ranging from raising awareness to making infrastructures easily available to EV drivers, but Mr Ellingsen made a specific remark about the importance of providing the right incentives for consumers to purchase zero-emission vehicles, including, but not limited to, tax incentives and deductions.
Following his speech, attendees had the chance to hear the position of experts during the first panel, dedicated to the development of a pan-European infrastructure network for EV charging.
Our first panelist was Mrs Claire Depre, Head of Unit – Sustainable and Intelligent Transport at DG MOVE of the European Commission. She gave an overview of the existing projects and described how the European Commission is listening to what consumers are saying, which is that it must be as easy as possible to access infrastructure no matter what vehicles they are using.
The panel moved to the question of how price for energy for EV charging infrastructure is changing. Our speaker Arne Richter, Public Affairs Manager at Allego, remarked that there is a lot of support both among EU Member States and among industry players to make pricing more transparent for consumers and to expect development in this area soon.
The next question discussed was the use of data in responding to the demand for EV charging. Their importance was highlighted by Alain de Cat, CEO of Powerdale: “We can use data for better forecasting, so that we can better source energy for charging electric vehicles. It’s not just about competitive advantage for companies but also about the efficiency of the whole system“.
The other key issue for debate was the role of space in setting up infrastructure. Our fourth panelist, Frank Pawlitschek, Director and Co-founder of Ubitricity, argued that light poles charging points are needed to respond to existing and future demand as not everybody has access to private parking.
Following the panel Q&A and a restorative coffee break, the participants were presented with the second panel debate, which concerned the development of a competitive European battery industry.
Marie-France Van Der Valk, Director for European Institutions at Renault-Nissan was our first panelist and set the stage on the importance of the topic while discussing the European policies on the issue currently in the drafting process: “The legislation on batteries will be fundamental for electromobility as it needs to show that batteries are an asset that must be catered for!”
An hotly debated topic was the availability to the European market of materials to build batteries. Bert Witkmap, Operating Agent of the Taskforce 40 “Critical Raw Materials for Electric Vehicles” (CRM4EV) of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Technology Collaboration Programme for “Hybrid and Electric Vehicle” (HEV), argued that this is a key issue for the market and that both the supply sources and the sustainability of extraction must be a priority for the European Union and for European companies and if they want to be competitive on the global market.
Certainly connected to this topic was also the issue of batteries recycling, about which Jose Rizo-Martin of DG Environment of the European Commission stated that it is a fundamental way to recover key materials and it will be part of the broader focus on the sources of strategic materials for the development of this industry.
In this broader discussion, our last panelist Vincent Ledoux Pedailles, Executive Director of the Infinity Lithium Corporation provided the audience with a commercial perspective arguing that it is not just about the availability of battery technologies but also about when they become marketable and that this aspect should also receive support.
Following the end of the panel, the conference then concluded with the closing speech of our Secretary General Philippe Vangeel. He emphasized the importance of our work to fight climate change: “We have a huge responsibility. We need a joint undertaking to ensure a future for ourselves and our children. We need to give the signal that electromobility is here to help with decarbonisation“
Our guests then enjoyed a networking cocktail that set the basis for future discussion and we look forward to welcome them again at our next event “Millenials and Zero Emission Transport” that will take place at the Benelux House (Regentschapsstraat 39 Rue de la Régence, 1000 Brussel) on Thursday 5th of December. Stay tuned for more news and we look forward to meet you there!