A full-coverage high-power charging infrastructure is essential for driving forward electromobility. As a pioneer and innovator in electric mobility, Siemens has global experience, a strong portfolio along the value chain and is an active participant in shaping and promoting standardization for EV charging solutions worldwide, for buses and cars as well.
Siemens has been shaping electric mobility for 15 years, and due to the spread of e-cars and e-buses the need for e-charger infrastructure is also on the rise in Hungary. As the Head of Smart Infrastructure at Siemens Hungary, Levente Balasa explains to Diplomacy&Trade that according to an announcement by the government, “as of 2022, only electric buses could be put into operation as new vehicles in public transport and the purchase of electric cars would be state subsidized. That is what we believe gave an impetus to the market. If you look around internationally, you can notice that the European Union is preparing to be climate-neutral by 2050 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In many countries, including Hungary, the energy strategy clearly outlines changing to renewable energy resources and increasing their integration as well as green transport.”
For fossil-free public transport
He believes that in order to achieve climate goals, something radical needs to be done and the best available technology for that is electric mobility. “It is very important to notice that we are sitting on a speeding train – as are the neighboring countries who are working on similar projects to increase the share of electric mobility in public transport. There are cities worldwide (including London, Paris and New York City) that aim to have fossil-free public transport by 2025. From 2030, the United Kingdom will forbid the sale of cars running on fossil-based fuel only and five years later, only purely electric cars can be sold as new.”
He points out that green transport is definitely among the recommendations of what the EU’s latest Recovery and Resilience Facility should be spent on.
Green Bus program for cities
Closer to home, the Green Bus program has launched its pilot project in Hungary, with one-month testing of electric buses in different cities to see how the locals feel about it. “The benefits are clear: energy saving, zero harmful substance emission, zero greenhouse gas emission and last but not least, noise reduction, which is also important in urban environments,” Levente Balasa highlights. He stresses that this technology is complete if these vehicles are charged with clean energy, like those from renewable sources. Higher and higher capacity solar power sources are put into operation and the challenge is how to integrate these into the charging infrastructure by achieving network security in terms of making the chargers available where they are needed. This is where Siemens aims to be a frontrunner, looking for ways to implement its technologies in the energy system.
Levente Balasa is of the view that knowledge base is needed for the charging infrastructure as well. “You can place chargers in depots where the batteries of buses are charged overnight to be able to operate the next day. Another option is deploying chargers along the bus lines for quick charging during the day. It is the transport companies that need to figure out how to adapt to the local conditions, what suits them best, what modifications, if any, they need to make in the routes, for instance. It is definitely going to be a longer process.”
What one needs to take into account is that the purchase price of an electric bus is one and half or two times that of a traditional vehicle. However, a lot can be saved on the operation and maintenance costs and the lifespan is longer. Levente Balasa puts the ‘tipping point’ to the running distance of about 50,000 kilometers a year above which electric vehicles are more beneficial to be used.
Corporations for e-mobility
In case of electric cars, the deployment of chargers began much earlier. The first key issue here is how the price of these vehicles evolves. At the moment, this is not the category an average Hungarian can afford, which means that if an average person seeks to have the proper comfort and technical features in a car, the price is much higher if he or she chooses the plug-in type, let alone the fully electric version. As for the necessary infrastructure for electric cars, basically you either charge it at home or at your workplace. The Head of Smart Infrastructure at Siemens Hungary believes that companies that consider electric mode of transportation important and make it possible for their employees to change to electric cars will play a pivotal role in the propagation of electro-mobility. “This will require the presence of chargers in office building parking facilities, something that will incur costs. On the other hand, private homes will also need to be equipped with proper chargers that the employee will be able to use to have his or her car ready for the next morning. Now, the question arises: how will the company be able to reimburse me for the costs of electricity used for charging the car overnight? Building out corporate car fleets is a great solution for the propagation of electric mobility – the ways and means to do that could be the subject of another article.”
Siemens knowledge base
Back to buses: “We have had several projects in different cities and with technologies used in those projects, we can provide ideas on what sort of new buses should be acquired (what type of charging system they should have), how a depot for them should be built and how the electricity supply background – a core business for Siemens Hungary – should be created,” he highlights.
The bus depots are industrial facilities in the sense that they must ensure availability: a bus that returns to the depot for the night should be able to leave that place fully charged the next morning, and where also the uninterrupted supply of electric power to the depot should be properly secured.
“The question arises how it is possible to bring in green energy, like solar power, to these places. These are the most determinant issues in the electrification of bus lines. A 2019 Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) prognosis for the European bus charger market is 22% year on year for the infrastructure build-up between 2019 and 2025. This very much shows the direction we are heading to,” Levente Balasa concludes.
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