EnBW Mastiaux boss: There is a problem with the expansion of the fast charger economy

This is a huge charging station which is currently under construction at the Kamen motorway junction, a major crossroads in North Rhine-Westphalia: the energy company EnBW is installing 52 fast charging stations there. Each of the outlets connected to electric cars with thick cables generates up to 300 kilowatts of power, depending on the number of cars charging at the same time. Some models can recharge a range of up to 100 kilometers in just five minutes. It is probably the largest high-speed charging park in Europe. A showcase project that EnBW boss Frank Mastiaux could be delighted about: his company is the market leader in this area with currently 650 fast-charging points across the country – another being open almost every day. By way of comparison: Tesla and Ionity are currently much less well positioned with a hundred sites each. In 2025, EnBW aims to provide fast charging facilities at 2,500 sites across Germany; up to 100 million euros will be invested each year for this purpose.

And yet, the joy in Mastiaux is not without clouds. The mobility transition is comparable in size and magnitude to the energy transition, but it is also slowing down – for example in the construction of wind turbines or power lines, which the energy company has felt for years. “That is why we cannot repeat the same mistakes when building the charging infrastructure as when expanding renewables, which is slowed down by complicated bureaucratic processes.” Mastiaux will instill these concerns in politics this Thursday: For this day, Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann has once again invited the Baden-Württemberg Automotive Industry Strategy Dialog. This includes the CEOs of Daimler and Porsche and supplier ZF. And also EnBW, which anyway mainly belongs to the Land of Baden-Württemberg, as well as various districts in the southwest.

In terms of new registrations, electric cars have even overtaken diesel recently.

Frank Mastiaux is betting above all on fast charging stations, which are becoming more and more “dominant” for electromobility. At present, there is a ratio of one fast charging station to 70 electric cars, which means you are “on track”, and one charging station for one hundred electric cars is also a reasonable figure. But the prerequisites should improve for the charging infrastructure to really take hold across the country and keep pace with the ever-growing and rapidly growing electric car fleet – which now consists of around half a million people. vehicles; in september, electrified cars overtook diesel vehicles for the first time for new registrations.

“As in the development of electric cars, there is a great commitment from many suppliers when it comes to setting up the charging infrastructure,” says CEO of EnBW in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung .

Last year, for example, around 13,000 charging points were subsidized by the state – but only 3,000 were put into operation. This is less due to insufficient technical possibilities than to bureaucracy. “Mandatory installation of credit card terminals, for example, is simply counterproductive and backward, as more modern digital payment methods have been available for a long time,” says Mastiaux. Even with the calibration law, there is hardly any progress: how to measure electricity in a legally safe way at the charging station?

But the question of what a fast charging park should do is overregulated in EnBW’s opinion. In the call for tenders for its “Germany network”, for example, the Federal Ministry of Transport, in which more than 8,000 charging points are to be created by the end of 2023, stipulates that all connections must provide at least 200 kilowatts of continuous power at the same time – 24 hours a day. The Kamener Kreuz site, for example, would not have been possible at all because this overall performance would only have been achievable via a new supply line – which would have almost doubled the localization costs.

Subsidies are already complicated – the federal government alone has released two billion euros to promote the development of initially unprofitable sites. But the allocation of funds takes time. Two years ago, EnBW offered 1,000 locations as part of the “Germany Network” program. However, the first opinions are not expected until the end of 2023 at the earliest. If the energy company waited for it instead of building completely independently, there would be virtually no locations until 2025.

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