Today, electric vehicles are high on the agenda, which offers challenges and opportunities for developing more sustainable private transport.
Vattenfall is working to grow the market for electric vehicles. In order to succeed, we must work across sectors - utilities, the automotive industry and public authorities.
Vattenfall's E-mobility program comprises the following four areas of activity:
Close partnership with the automotive industry
Testing and demonstration of vehicles as well as testing the infrastructure in real life conditions is an important factor in preparing electric vehicles to be introduced to the market.
Currently, Vattenfall participates in four different testing and demonstration projects, in order to learn how best to prepare for an effective market introduction.
- Project conducted in partnership with BMW and involves testing electric vehicles and setting up charging stations in Berlin.
- Project conducted together with Volvo and is one of the first live tests of plug-in hybrids. The project focuses on charging at home, since demand for public charging poles is lower for plug-in hybrid vehicles than for electric vehicles.
- Participation in the ongoing ELFORSK-program on plug-in hybrids and electrical vehicles. The program has been scheduled to run from 2008 - 2011. The purpose of the program is to actively support effective development of the necessary charging infrastructure in Sweden. Vattenfall R&D is responsible for several sub-projects: Charging Infrastructure; Future Payment and Charging Solutions; and Standardisation.
- Vattenfall has taken a lead in analyzing the potential market demand for electric vehicles in Sweden. A joint investigation of potential large purchasers in the City of Stockholm identified an existing demand for almost 15,000 vehicles.
Developing technology standards
The lack of standards for interface and communication between vehicle and charging point is a barrier to market progress. Vattenfall is working together with both the energy and automotive industries to develop standards of the physical connection to the vehicle, for communication between vehicle and charging station, and for physical protection.
Ensuring that the electrical system can support charging of vehicles
Analysis and real life tests will increase our understanding of charging behaviour and interaction with the electrical system. Vattenfall also takes part in the development of charging solutions for home, fleet operators and public places, in order to make electric vehicles an attractive option.
Investigating future applications
E-mobility offers a new component to the existing electrical infrastructure that might be used to support intermittent electricity production such as wind power.
Even though the technology is promising, there is still much to test and develop before the market for electric vehicles can expect to grow substantially.
The major challenges ahead for the electric vehicle market are:
- Technology: Progress needs to be made in the development of batteries, particularly in terms of energy density and endurance. There is also a need to demonstrate charging infrastructure and create standard interfaces.
- Regulatory support: Political and regulatory support will be needed to build confidence in the market and overcome the high initial cost of electric vehicles.
- Awareness and perception: Public perception of the drawbacks of electric vehicles is exaggerated, and awareness of the opportunities they afford must be strengthened.
E-mobility demonstrates that increased use of electricity offers overall benefits to society:
- Electricity can provide around 75 % of energy used by private vehicle transport.
- Electricity can reduce our dependency on oil.
- Electricity can remove local emissions from millions of exhaust pipes to larger point sources, where they can be more easily controlled.
- Electricity offers increased security of the energy supply, since a mixture of energy sources can be used: wind, hydro power, nuclear power, coal, biomass etc.
Using electricity for vehicles will incorporate private vehicles into the EU emission trading system, where a cap for total carbon dioxide emissions already exists.