Keynote: The Dutch revolution in smart charging electric vehicles

During the Dutch trade mission to California (8-11 January 2017) led by Prince Constantijn and Minister Kamp, I gave a keynote presentation on January 9th on the development of E-Mobility in the Netherlands. In this blog post, as requested by many, the summary of my keynote presentation. Many thanks to Annabel van Zante for the preparatory work.


Before this Dutch Trade Mission I went on a road trip with my wife to the West Coast. The first thing we saw when leaving the airport in San Francisco was the opportunity to rent a Tesla. Unfortunately, it exceeded our budget. However, on previous E-Mobility business trips to California, options like this were not available. We also heard many radio commercials during our road trip for EVs, such as the new Chevy Bolt.

To me, these examples show the big steps that the E-Mobility industry is making at this moment, and that electric vehicles will be available very soon with a good range and reasonable price. I was asked to tell about the E-Mobility developments in The Netherlands. First, I would like to introduce myself.

E-Mobility as a road trip
Working in the field of E-Mobility can be seen as a road trip experience as well. Every single day in the EV industry brings new insights, new ideas and new chances. The aim we – I believe – all together have, is to speed up the development towards zero emission transport by EVs. However, we are not sure what our path towards this goal will look like, just like in a road trip.

I am one of the road trippers in the world of Dutch E-Mobility. I like to discover the new opportunities E-Mobility developments are giving us. I am working as a senior expert, project manager and consultant at APPM management consultants for public and private organisations mainly in the Netherlands, but also in surrounding countries and in the US as well. Currently, I focus on developing smart charging and the roll-out of new charging infrastructure, and I am involved in the business development of the Living Lab Smart Charging. Besides that I am chairman of the Dutch Organisation for Electric Transport.

In this presentation I would like to take you on a trip by giving a quick overview of the current developments in E-Mobility in the Netherlands.


Free energy due to solar and wind power
Considering all current developments, I believe that in the near future the electric vehicle will be an important and integrated part of our energy system, with a strong link to the growing production of renewable energy. The cost price of solar and wind power is rapidly decreasing. The recent tenders for offshore wind, for example, show that the business case in the Netherlands is reaching its break-even point. In Germany we already see that the production of wind energy exceeds the actual demand many days a year, which leads to negative energy prices. Or stated the other way around: you are paid for using this energy, meaning that you can make money by charging an electric vehicle.

These developments will continue the coming years. However, the trick with renewables is how to use them. For example, the production of renewable energy does not follow the same pattern as the demand for energy. We need to store this energy for several hours and sometimes even for a couple of days. That is where the electric car comes in. The batteries of electric vehicles provide the perfect solution for the temporary storage of renewable energy.

Making the connection between charging electric vehicles and renewables is what we call smart charging. It means charging your electric vehicle when, for example, the demand for energy is low and energy prices drop. It is even better to store the renewable energy in the battery of your electric vehicle and use this when there is no renewable energy available. I will come back to the development of smart charging later.

First, I will address the current situation of the Netherlands regarding the growth of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.


Facts about the electric vehicles in The Netherlands
Some facts and figures about electric vehicles in the Netherlands. Currently, there are around 105,000 electric vehicles. This is up to 1.5 percent of all passenger cars in the Netherlands. Last year, 4 percent of all new car sales were electric vehicles. From the 105,000 electric vehicles, 12 percent are battery electric vehicles and the other part are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Looking forward, we have several ambitions for zero emission vehicles in the coming years. For 2020 the ambition is that 10 percent of all new passenger cars has an electric drive train, and in 2025 this should be 50 percent. For 2035, our national target is that all new sold passenger cars are zero emission. Currently, almost all electric cars in the Netherlands are company-owned cars. Therefore, there is also a specific ambition that in 2020 around 75,000 passenger cars are privately owned.

To achieve these goals, the Netherlands will continue incentives like reduced taxes for driving with a zero emission company car and excluding electric vehicles from road and purchase taxes till 2020. The introduction of E-Mobility is, however, about more than just passenger cars.


For example: public transport
There are about 5,000 buses in the Netherlands, which need to become green as well. Last year all contracting authorities signed an agreement about the transition to 100 percent zero emission public transportation in 2030, and they also agreed that all new buses should be zero emission in 2025. They are currently working together to achieve this. For example, the province of Noord-Brabant introduced 43 electric buses in the timetable in the city of Eindhoven by the end of last year.


Furthermore, we should not forget the taxi market.
After the successful introduction of almost 200 electric taxis at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, we see major steps in this sector. For example, the city of Amsterdam is working on strict regulations of emission targets for the taxi companies who are allowed to drive in the city centre. For taxi companies, the electric vehicle is their solution to these regulations.

There are many more cases, like light electric vehicles (LEVs) and heavy duty. Unfortunately, I cannot go into detail on all of them in this presentation. This brings me to the charging infrastructure in the Netherlands.


Fast Charging
First of all, I want to consider the fast charging infrastructure. In the Netherlands we have around 600 fast charging stations. For example, the company Fastned is investing in fast charging stations at around 200 locations next to the Dutch highways. The Dutch highway agency organized a tender for this large project a few years ago. Also cities like The Hague and Amsterdam are working together with private companies to roll out fast charging infrastructure within their city boundaries.


Normal charging infrastructure
Besides fast charging, there is also normal charging, which is known as level 2 charging in the United States. Currently, there are around 12,000 public charging points in in the Netherlands. Of course there are many more private charging stations, installed at people’s homes, workplaces and other locations. Many of these charging stations are open for the public as well.


Open standards
Regarding public charging stations, we are very proud of the open standards we use and the interoperability we have. Since the introduction of electric mobility in the Netherlands, service providers and charge point operators are working together with a focus on open standards. This gives EV-drivers the possibility to charge with the same card at every single public charging station. Last November, also an agreement to charge across borders in Germany was signed.

Furthermore, almost all communication between the charging stations and back offices of the charge point operators are facilitated with open standards such as the Open Charge Point Protocol, OCPP. Other open standards are developed as well and used, for example, for communications between back offices and other organisations. Recently ElaadNL published a EV related protocol study. For the ones who are interested, you can ask Lonneke Driessen or Baerte de Brey for this publication.


Challenges for public charging infrastructure
We are proud to be a frontrunner in Europe in the development, organisation and roll out of public charging infrastructure. However, we are not there yet. The roll out of the public charging infrastructure is still a challenge. About 60 to 70 percent of Dutch households do not have the possibility to park their car at the own private property, and therefore they need public parking and charging opportunities.

At this moment the number of public charging stations that is needed is growing due to the increasing number of electric vehicles in the Netherlands. An easy calculation shows that around 50,000 extra public charging stations will be needed in the next five years. Despite the national fund to support cities with the roll out of charging infrastructure still faces a financial challenge.

Secondly, we are talking about long term investments and long term contracts in a developing market. And therefore we should be aware of creating lock-ins in a new developing market. These lock-ins could make it difficult to introduce new types of charging solutions or innovations. Smart charging is one of these innovations.


Smart Charging
I believe that making the connection between renewables and electric vehicles will provide an incentive in to stimulate and accelerate the introduction of both technologies. What do we need to realise this? This is actually quite easy: future-proof smart charging infrastructure and new and viable business models. In order to make a connection between renewables and electric vehicles, it should be possible to influence the charging of an electric vehicle given certain preferences, such as the availability of sustainable energy, the current energy prices and grid congestion. Developing smart charging means developing technologies which are able to do this. We have companies who are able to do that, such as GreenFlux. They are part of the Dutch delegation in this Trade Mission as well.

Secondly, the introduction of smart charging is about developing business models. For example, incentives are needed for EV-drivers to accept that their transaction is shifted to a certain time frame. These incentives could, for example, make charging cheaper for EV-drivers. Smart charging also offers incentives for companies and utilities involved. Together we have to design these new technologies and business models. This is for example done in the Living Lab Smart Charging.


The Living Lab Smart Charging
The Living Lab Smart Charging is a platform working on this revolution in smart charging electric vehicles. The Living Lab facilitates the development of new smart charging technologies and business models in the world’s biggest operational testing area. In this living lab, private companies like service provides, charge point operators, energy companies, car manufacturers, grid companies, and public organisations like regional and local governments, universities and knowledge institutes all work together.
The Living Lab Smart Charging started in 2016 by making all charging stations in the Netherlands smart charging ready. This means that the software and hardware in the charging station and back office is equipped to handle smart charging transactions. In the second phase, the cooperating organisations are working on testing and developing smart charging in practice. Therefore around 65,000 public and private charging stations are available as a living lab. This amount will, of course, grow in the coming years. Several tests and projects are up and running already and many more will follow the coming years.

Finally, the aim of the Living Lab Smart Charging is to develop a standard that will make the connection between renewables and the charging of electric vehicles possible.


LomboXnet put this theory into practice
Is smart charging a romanticized scenario or reality? I believe that the theory of storing renewables in the batteries of electric vehicles will be a standard in a few years. The project LomboXnet in Utrecht in the Netherlands is already working on it.

The project started a couple of years ago with the aim to discover the opportunities of storing solar energy in the battery of a single electric vehicle. Nowadays the project has entered a new phase and is working on the storage of renewables in 150 electric vehicles. All these vehicles will be shared cars which makes it possible for several households together to use them. Together with car manufacturer Renault, the project team is developing Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technologies which should be ready by the end of next year. With these technologies we expect a new phase for smart charging and V2G solutions.


Final remarks: Join the journey
This brings me to the conclusion of my presentation. As mentioned at the start of this presentation, the introduction of E-Mobility is similar to a road trip. We know where we want to go, but we do not know exactly how to get there and also what challenges we have to face during our trip. However, in summary I believe that the introduction of electric vehicles and renewables is stronger when combined.

The development of smart charging will support the growth of E-Mobility, besides all other kinds of EV incentives we have. Collaboration on a national and international level is therefore one of the key things. Events like today are very helpful in order to achieve this. I would like to invite all of you to become part of a successful journey.

Thank you for your attention.