At the end of 2023, the European Union (EU) published an Action Plan with the aim of addressing key challenges in the expansion, digitalisation, and improved utilization of the electricity transmission and distribution networks of its member countries.
Following its implementation, the European Association for Electromobility (AVERE) presented a document reflecting its position, accompanied by a series of recommendations that would complement the project.
“The EU published its Action Plan for Grids, full of good proposals for addressing many bottlenecks to the rapid and widespread rollout of additional charging infrastructure, with an 18-month timeline,” declares Patrik Krizansky, President of AVERE.
While it is important for the association to look towards the future, it is also essential to be clear about what was agreed upon in the past.
In this regard, the document states from the outset that existing rules must be implemented correctly.
Thus, the text mentions that national governments must fulfil their responsibilities for the timely deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure.
For example, in the case of smart meters, while some nations on the continent show a 100 per cent penetration range in their infrastructure, other countries report figures lower than one per cent.
This is just one of the pieces of evidence reflecting that some members of the European Union do not meet the minimum standards proposed by the EU for these devices.
Smart meters, a key technology for network management and digitalisation, have reached 56 per cent of European Union customers but are progressing much less in Central and Eastern Europe.
To meet these requirements, states must rely on existing European legislation, such as the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), originating in 2009, and the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR).
However, it is worth noting that for the association, merely following the rules is not sufficient. Therefore, it lists some recommendations.
To create a more conducive environment for the distribution and implementation of charging networks, it is necessary to have information about the existing electrical supply capacity at each site.
In this regard, AVERE indicates that, whether through each distribution network operator or through a national plan, it should be possible to search online for details of electrical supply by location.
This method allows for a quick determination of which sites are eligible for the immediate installation of charging infrastructure, indicating where electrification could be faster and more cost-effective.
On the other hand, the association acknowledges the need for prior state investment for a faster development of charging networks.
For AVERE, if the European network becomes more digital and intelligent, it will be able to integrate increasingly larger amounts of renewable energy and address the challenge of greater electrification.
In the pursuit of achieving climate goals, monetary investments in the network must increase significantly.
Furthermore, adapting the regulatory framework is crucial to better capture the value that new projects can add and, therefore, open the possibility of early investments.
Another highlighted point in the document is the social factor in the production and expansion of charging networks, specifically workforce training.
It is clear that the future will be digital, and therefore, governments must collaborate with educational institutions and the industry to integrate these skills into national agendas.
To address this, it is suggested that states introduce learning programs, scholarships, and incentive schemes to support the creation of a workforce with the necessary preparation.
Moreover, it is crucial for industrial and academic sectors to work together to incorporate new technical elements into curricula and collaborate with authorities to introduce new requirements into certifications.
In this way, the eligible European workforce for the electric network sector will be more extensive.