Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: June 26, 2024
Inés Platini
By Inés Platini
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Do all petrol stations need a charging point? Sector reacts to new German Government measure

Following the federal government's intention that major service station operators must have at least one fast charging point, Aral, the largest provider in the German petrol station market, expresses its concerns regarding this decision to Mobility Portal Europe.
Do All Petrol Stations Need a Charging Point? Sector Reacts to New German Government Measures

The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) has drafted a bill requiring large petrol stations to ensure the operation of a fast-charging infrastructure at their stations starting from 1 January 2028.

This bill aims to amend the Electric Mobility Infrastructure for Buildings Act (GEIG in German).

Specifically, companies with at least 200 locations in Germany must ensure that at least one public access point with a minimum of 150 kilowatts (kW) is operational at each site.

Achim Bothe, CEO of Aral AG.

In response, Achim Bothe, CEO of Aral AG, states to Mobility Portal Europe: “We reject the supply requirement. It resembles a planned economy and does not work. The obligation would lead to poor investments.”

Furthermore, he emphasises: “Not all petrol stations need a charging point.”

Why is this the case?

As indicated by Bundesverband Freier Tankstellen (BFT) to this portal, in some locations, such as rural areas, people charge privately and have the option to “refuel” their car at home.

“Therefore, it makes no sense to offer a charging station at all locations,” assured the association that represents more than 2800 petrol stations in the German market.

It also argues that this provision lacks sense, especially when considering the “availability of electricity issues, bureaucracy, installation costs, and scalability” present in the country.

Currently, installing chargers can take up to a year and a half due to various bureaucratic hurdles.

It is important to mention that the sale of electric vehicles in Germany is also presently stagnant, primarily due to the elimination of the environmental bonus at the end of last year.

As a result, charging points are underutilised.

According to the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW), in 2023, the German market exceeded the new European minimum targets for installed charging capacity by more than double.

This overachievement was reflected in consistently low occupancy of the stations.

On average, across the country, points were in use only 12.5 per cent of the time. This rate varies regionally, ranging from three to 23 per cent.

In this context, Bundesverband Freier Tankstellen states: “The costs are high and will continue to rise with the requirement to install chargers at petrol stations, and demand will dramatically exceed supply.”

It emphasises: “All this leads to the problem of scalability and the lack of a positive outlook on return on investment.”

Meanwhile, Achim Bothe maintains: “We should focus on places where we see the greatest potential for demand and utilisation.”

As one of the largest operators of petrol stations in the country, the company is expanding its ultra-fast network and already has more than 2,600 chargers.

Kerstin Andreae, Chairwoman of the Executive Board at BDEW.

Last year, it invested 100 million euros in expanding its infrastructure, with the aim to install 5,000 by 2025 and even 20,000 by 2030.

In this sense, the BDEW assures that the infrastructure is being built according to market demands.

“Petrol station operators are already installing charging stations on their own initiative. The obligation (by BMDV) is neither effective nor based on needs,” asserts the board chairwoman at BDEW Kerstin Andreae.

Not only that.

Representatives of BFT indicate that, in this context, an additional problem arises with the emergence of new actors, “such as energy suppliers, who build their own charging stations along heavily trafficked routes.”

“They will not have the requirement to build in potentially unprofitable areas, distorting the market to the detriment of petrol stations,” it emphasise.

What are “unprofitable” areas?

An example would be rural regions, where chargers might only be used occasionally by tourists, potentially causing financial problems for the operator or “even leading to the closure of the station.”

“We already have an oversupply of charging stations, so adding new ones will only reduce the chance of making a profit, and we need to survive,” it express.

Given this scenario, a necessary justification would be needed for such a severe regulatory measure as proposed by the BMDV.

What would be a possible solution?

The BDEW stresses that the focus should be on the vehicle sector, offering more affordable electric cars to reach the goal of 15 million by 2030.

Additionally, reducing bureaucratic hurdles is crucial, as obtaining the necessary construction permits for transformers and access to the power grid often takes too long.

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