The adoption of sustainable energy is one of the biggest challenges we face. To ensure quality of life, we aim for zero emission transport by 2025. Research, development, collaboration and using data are key to the future of electric mobility and charging infrastructure.

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Bart Vertelman

Using data is key to electric mobility in Amsterdam

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As Amsterdam is growing with 15.000 inhabitants each year, electric mobility isn’t a luxury anymore. To ensure the quality of life, we need zero emission vehicles in the future. That’s why Amsterdam aims for zero emission transport for everybody in 2025. How do we build a future proof roll out infrastructure? Using data is key to our electric mobility.

Amsterdam’s public charging infrastructure is without compare. In the city, an effective charging point infrastructure for electric vehicles is crucial. As the majority of the inhabitants don’t own their own parking space, the city has to take its responsibility. Amsterdam’s 2.200 charging points, roughly 60.000 charging sessions and 600.000 kilowatt hours each month being charged on public charging stations, generate data. In recent years, researchers, students and PhD students from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) have worked on the analysis of these data in a series of unique research projects resulting in valuable input for decision making. User profiles and charging behaviour are being analyzed in order to effectuate an efficient roll out strategy. This interaction between science and policy ensures a future proof charging infrastructure.

Predicting future effects

Installation of charging points in Amsterdam is demand driven. This means that charging points are installed when there is a user or where we see increasing demand on the existing network. So how can data help predicting future effects? The AUAS uses the data of all standard and fast chargers in Amsterdam, but also in the wider Amsterdam Metropolitan Region and the cities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Using all this data (more than 1.3 million kWh every month) enables us to give more accurate analyses of users’ charging behaviour, such as where users live, where they work and what their destinations are, and what this means for their choice to either use fast chargers, standard chargers or charging hubs. The data can also help predicting relevant developments and testing assumptions about these developments. The results will enable the city to adjust local policy on charging infrastructure.

Questions and answers

For example: how can taxis, vans and delivery trucks transform into zero emission fleets? What kind of charging infrastructure do they need? Will standard charging points do, can they provide their own charging solutions? Will smart charging be part of their own business case? And what will be our next step in developing the current charging grid? At this moment, there’s a charging point at approximately 300 meters from every household. Should we make the grid even denser, or do we need charging hubs to make installation and use of public space more efficiently? Is charging infrastructure at business buildings replacing normal charging sessions or is it complementary? What can we learn from the data provided by new mobility forms like car-to-go? And what can we learn from Tesla, who charges users a fee if they park their car too long at a super charger? Data show us that there’s a serious gap between the time cars are connected and actually charging. We could use this more efficiently.

Renewable energy

In the meantime, we are focusing on the upcoming increase of electric vehicles and at the same time the availability of local solar and wind power. These developments can have a significant impact on the city’s network. But they may also reinforce each other, thus contributing to the necessary energy transition. Ideally the electric car can be used to support the increase in production of renewable energy and vice versa. The current charging data will play an important role in this. In recent years, the Netherlands and in particular the local cities have reached a front runner position in the transition to electric mobility. Now is the time to benefit from the generated data and knowledge and to push through into a sustainable roll out strategy. We can accomplish our goal - zero emissions by 2025 - if we use our data wisely.

Bart Vertelman is Program Manager Electric Mobility at the City of Amsterdam

Bart Vertelman and Maarten van de Biezen discuss the challenges of mobility in a metropolitan area.

‘We need to act now’

“Amsterdam is growing every day. Electric mobility and a future proof charging infrastructure are crucial. But we need to look further than that. We need to improve our renewable energy efficiency: for electric cars, but also for houses, heating, electrical equipment. We have little time to lose, if we want to accomplish our goal - zero emissions by 2025.”

Bart Vertelman is Program Manager Electric Mobility at the city of Amsterdam. Maarten van de Biezen is Director Mobility at Natuur & Milieu.

Auke Hoekstra (l.) | Robert van den Hoed (r.)

Landscape of charging infrastructure research in the Netherlands

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We must move away from fossil fuels. Since oil is our scarcest fossil fuel and we burn more than half of it to fuel our cars, it makes sense to adopt electric vehicles. Charging infrastructure connects the worlds of energy and mobility. This first-of-a-kind conference connects researchers and practitioners.

The Netherlands has one of the highest adoption rates of electric vehicles. We have ambitious targets for zero emission taxis, buses, small delivery vehicles, light vehicles and even boats. The electric taxis in Amsterdam are an example that draws worldwide attention. We are also ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing extensive and advanced charging infrastructure. The open standards we introduced are now used worldwide and the interoperability we achieved is extraordinary.

This advanced charging infrastructure is now adopting so called smart charging. This way we can use electric cars as storage buffers to stabilize the grid while using large amounts of energy sources like wind and solar. Our advanced charging infrastructure is emerging as a successful export product and companies like EV Box and New Motion are considered worldwide market leaders. We - researchers and practitioners on charging infrastructure - are the connection between the two worlds of energy and mobility. Our research area is vital to both the introduction of electric vehicles and the transition to renewable energy.

The future is electric

Solar and wind are our most abundant sources of energy and they are also on track to become the cheapest. So electricity is the future of energy. Combining this renewable electricity with electric vehicles is a match made in heaven. Not only because the vehicles can act as storage (through smart charging) but also because it's efficient. When we use photosynthesis to create biofuels that drive a car, we start with photosynthesys that's 0.5-5% efficient and after refining and transportation we end the chain with an internal combustion engine that's 15-30% efficient. The resulting overall efficiency is 0.1-1%. When we use solar panels to drive an electric vehicle the average efficiency is 14%.

For the driver it's the efficiency of the electric engine itself that counts. The electric motor simply uses four times less energy than an internal combustion engine. Renewable electricity currently costs about the same as gasoline per kWh (in the future it will be cheaper) so the frugality of the electric engine generates large savings over the lifetime of the vehicle. Furthermore, the internal combustion engine needs a lot of maintenance whereas the electric engine needs none. Combined these savings are already much larger than the costs of a battery. And battery prices are falling rapidly. This is the main reason electric vehicles will prevail. So for both energy and automotive, the future is electric.

Many areas of charging infrastructure research

Optimizing the interaction between energy and mobility requires extensive optimization and major research efforts. It's an interdisciplinary field that's still in its infancy. Many unpredictable developments are to be expected. What will be the ratio between fast (DC) charging and destination charging? Will we make a transition to inductive charging, maybe even while driving? How much charging will occur in automatic charging stations for self-driving cars? What can we expect in terms of consumer behavior? What kinds of incentives for buying and charging electric vehicles are most cost-effective? What can we learn from all our big data on the use of the charging infrastructure? For this conference we clustered the Dutch charging infrastructure research into four areas: modelling, consumers, technology and data analysis.

A mature and integrated research field

In the Netherlands, all technical universities conduct extensive charging infrastructure research, but especially the universities in Delft and Eindhoven have large research areas dedicated to charging infrastructure and are internationally recognized for their collaboration with local high tech companies. In Amsterdam the University of Applied Sciences is focusing on data analytics, business modelling, energy modelling and consumer research.

But the field of charging infrastructure research isn't really a field yet. Researchers are working isolated from each other and from practitioners. It is for that reason that connecting stakeholders at this ARCHI symposium is so important. ARCHI might be the first of its kind but it should certainly not be the last. We should probably think about scaling it up to an international conference. Only then charging infrastructure can play its role of connecting the worlds of mobility and energy to its fullest potential.

Robert van den Hoed is Professor Energy & Innovation at the Faculty of Engineering of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Auke Hoekstra is Senior Advisor Smart Mobility at Eindhoven University of Technology

Landscape of charging infrastructure research in the Netherlands

Robert van den Hoed interviews Auke Hoekstra on the urgency of collaboration between researchers and practitioners.

'Put theory into action'

There are a lot of challenges regarding charging infrastructure. What can scientists contribute? “When it comes to research, scientists have accomplished a lot already. We are practically five to ten years ahead of the market. The challenge we face is that we now have put our theory, our knowledge into practice. How can society benefit from this?”

Robert van den Hoed is Professor Energy & Innovation at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Auke Hoekstra is Senior Advisor Smart Mobility at Eindhoven University of Technology.