Revision of the Directive on deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure

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EESC opinion: Revision of the Directive on deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure

Key points: 

  • The upgrading of the electricity grid must be an immediate priority so as to facilitate fast charging stations and also the manufacture of hydrogen and other alternative fuels. In addition, the installation of bidirectional smart meters to enable electricity to flow both ways is necessary. Planning and regulatory requirements need to be reviewed so as to avoid delays in upgrading the grid. Decarbonising of transport is critically linked to the rapid increase in the generation of green electricity; e-mobility only makes sense in climate policy terms if it uses green electricity, and increased investment in green electricity is therefore essential. The Commission must do much more to help develop and consider prosumer models.
  • It is necessary to support massive public investment into R&D in scientific and technological work to improve batteries, especially in terms of size, capacity and length of service. If research can achieve a reduction in the lithium requirement for batteries for vehicles then it would reduce our dependence on tight global supplies which come from outside the EU. This possibility would improve EU capacity in relation to the rapid uptake of renewable energy for transport, leading to sustainable mobility. Also, there is an urgent need for R&D and technological development so that all possible alternative fuels are evaluated and promoted and all transport modes are considered. It would be unwise to become dependent on one system only. In particular the potential of green hydrogen should be explored.
  • The vast majority of consumers will only be convinced to buy BEVs when they are certain that adequate charging infrastructure is in place. Even consumers who rarely drive long journeys still must be assured that they can travel a long distance in a BEV should they require to do so. That is why this regulation is so important and that it be fully implemented throughout the EU.
  • The EESC stresses the vital importance that the infrastructure is fully interoperable in every respect throughout the EU. We cannot have a situation where drivers have to carry around various adaptors in their cars in order to use the alternative fuels infrastructure in various Member States.
  • The QR code (Quick Response Code) option for ad hoc payments is not a payment system widely used in the EU despite the Commission statement in Article 5.2. The EESC foresees that usage of this option will cause accessibility problems for many user groups. The EESC is opposed to a situation where the use of QR code is the only method of making an ad hoc payment. Payment card readers must be available for all ad hoc payments.
  • The renewable energy directive provides calculation methods for determining GHG emissions from various alternative fuels. However, these are of little relevance to public purchasing decisions since there is virtually no awareness of the GHG emissions values attaching to vehicles and inadequate verification of the claims made by manufacturers and sellers. This needs to be remedied.