MEPs can get Europe’s buildings up to speed with electro-mobility, by strengthening law

ThinkstockPhotos-597233106 Credit: ThinkStock Photos

BRUSSELS – EU ministers agreed last week on a common approach to the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The European Commission’s legislative proposal for the EPBD introduced obligations for EU countries to ensure adequate and future-proof pre-equipping of buildings for electric vehicle (EV) recharging points.

These obligations have, however, encountered strong resistance from EU Member States due to concerns over costs and potential negative impacts on renovation incentives, and have as a result been watered down. While this lowered level of ambition is regrettable, core elements remain in place and it will now be up to the European Parliament to strengthen these as it gets closer to finalising its own position.

The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (AFI) Directive, currently being transposed by EU countries, mandates minimum numbers of publically accessible charging points and sets EU-wide harmonised standards for their charging connectors. While being an important step to addressing consumer charging anxieties, the public domain accounts for only 10% of EV users’ charging needs.

Studies confirm that the remaining 90% of the electricity charged by an EV during its lifetime actually takes place in the private domain, i.e. at home overnight or at the workplace through normal power charging (from 3.7 to 22 kW). Pre-equipping buildings for the installation of EV charging points is therefore crucial to satisfying EV charging needs and fostering the wider uptake of electro-mobility.

The ability of charging infrastructure to control the charging process is crucial for integrating high numbers of EVs into the electricity system and contributes to optimising the energy use of buildings – this should be reflected in the revised EPBD.

When it comes to non-residential buildings, the Council compromise text retains the obligation for new and substantially renovated buildings with more than 10 parking spaces to install at least one recharging point, , together with ducting infrastructure[1] for at least one in every three parking spaces.

Ducting infrastructure is a future-proof and cost-effective solution, the installation cost of which is minimal as compared to the total cost of constructing or renovating a building. By comparison, failure to ensure ducting infrastructure would entail costs up to nine times higher if a building is to be retrofitted at a later stage. In light of this, Bellona supports an extension of ducting infrastructure requirements to all parking spaces, which has already been taken on board by Council in the case of residential buildings.

On a more positive note, Bellona acknowledges the Council’s insertion of obligations to facilitate deployment of recharging points in existing buildings. Today, long and uncertain approval procedures act as a major barrier for owners and tenants to deploy charging points in shared residential and commercial buildings. If these hurdles are not removed, putting in place ducting infrastructure cannot have its full positive impact. Such ‘right to the plug’ measures have already been successfully implemented in various EU countries including Spain, France, and Portugal.

All eyes now turn to the European Parliament, which is set to agree its final position in November before entering negotiations with governments and the European Commission. Strengthening this directive offers a once-in-a-decade opportunity to ensure European buildings’ readiness for the mobility needs of tomorrow.

Bellona has led work on electro-mobility recharging infrastructure within the Platform for Electro-Mobility, which is an alliance of organisations from across industries and transport modes representing manufacturers, infrastructure managers, operators and users of all types of vehicles as well as cities, civil society and other stakeholders.

The platform’s reaction to the Council’s ‘general approach’ can be accessed here.

[1] Also referred to as ‘pre-tubing’ or ‘conduits’ to enable the later installation of EV recharging points