Skip to main content

Europe Moves Forward with Electric Cars

The electric car got another nudge—perhaps a significant nudge—towards reality with a new plan from the European Commission to standardize charging points for electric vehicles. 

Fill 'Er Up! The gas station of the future?

“The new European strategy will provide a supportive framework based on a twin-track approach: improving the efficiency of conventional engines and making ultra low-carbon mobility a reality for European consumers … The strategy also aims at achieving common standards for electrical cars so that they can be charged everywhere in the EU.”

There is a bit of Eurocrat-ese to wade through here, but these two goals from the plan stood out: 

  • Promote common standards that will allow all electric vehicles to be charged anywhere in the EU.

  • Encourage installation of publicly accessible charging points.

Sounds like a good start. A report released in conjunction with the plan, goes a little deeper on the two points.

“However, fast charging with high voltage, public charging points and the need to ensure communication between the vehicle and the electricity grid requires a dedicated plug and socket, which needs to be standardized at the EU level to ensure interoperability…An adequate electric charging network will require significant investment and definition of standards on safety, interoperability and payment.”

Think of it as the Euro of electric vehicles. It wasn’t too long ago in Europe that you had to stop at every new border, hit up the ATM and grab some cash. Now, with the Euro you can glide over borders without a second thought.

It’s kind of the same thing with pan-European charging stations for electric cars. The idea is to be able to drive any make of electric car from the Scottish highlands to Sicily with the knowledge you can plug it in conveniently anywhere, charge up quickly and be on your way. It’s a compelling vision.

But what will these “zero emission” cars run on ultimately? Sure, you’re getting off oil, but if you’re replacing it with another high-emission fossil fuel you really haven’t made much progress. (Of course, “zero emission” is a bit of a polite fiction as nothing is truly zero emissions over its entire lifecycle.)

In a question and answer piece, the EC notes:

The environmental impact of fully electric vehicles depends largely on the production of electricity that is used to charge them…care will have to be taken that electric vehicles are charged by using electricity from renewable sources to the extent possible...”

In another piece the EC quotes an interesting statistic:

“The global car fleet is predicted to grow from 800 million to 1.6 billion vehicles by 2030. In order to ensure sustainable mobility, a step change in automotive technology must happen.”

Now, that may be a global, not European statistic, and significant market penetration of electric cars may take some time. However, putting all these pieces together, it’s not that big of a leap to the next point: if electric vehicles are going to start gathering market share and if we expect them to be low emissions we will need to make sure the grid is as clean as possible. Renewables? Sure. Efficiency? You bet. Smart Grid? Sounds good. Nuclear? No doubt.

It seems that if Europe wants to realize its dream of “sustainable mobility,” it will have to continue to rely on "the largest source of largely carbon-free energy in Europe,” a source that provides about a third of the EU's electricity: nuclear energy.

Renewables and nuclear working together near the Elbe: the Brokdorf nuclear plant in Germany.

The Brokdorf nuclear plant in Germany. Click on the photo, then click the “coordinates” link in the upper right corner. Then, choose the “satellite” version of your favorite map application. You should be able to find wind farms to the north and northwest of the plant.


electric cars is one of the trends this wonder Europe is into this kind of car technology
Sara said…
I follow your blog for a long time and must tell you that your posts always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.
Ya now a days electric car demand increasing.

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…