Seven questions about the interplay between e-mobility and renewable energies for Carsten Körnig, CEO of the German Solar Association (BSW).
Mr. Körnig, the German Solar Association has joined forces with other associations and the organizers of The smarter E Europe to publish a manifesto on e-mobility and renewable energies. Why is this?
Transportation is a major stumbling block for the energy transition. The electricity sector is making good progress with decarbonization, but CO2 emissions in the transportation sector are actually increasing. E-mobility has the potential to turn this around – but only if it’s powered by clean electricity. This is where our manifesto comes in. We were among the first signatories, because we want to promote the combination of photovoltaic and storage technology with e-mobility – they complement each other perfectly.
What do you see as the greatest obstacles for e-mobility?
Two particular hurdles spring to mind. There’s still a lack of affordable vehicles that offer an adequate range. And charging infrastructure needs to be improved and made more consumer-friendly. There’s no lack of demand. People want clean mobility.
What will it take to overcome these obstacles?
The automotive industry is hard at work developing electric vehicles. So there’s reason to believe that we’ll be seeing improvements soon. With regard to charging infrastructure, more competition should lead to fair prices and straightforward payment methods. Photovoltaic technology will pave the way for these developments thanks to the potential for vehicles to be charged from essentially any solar installation. Politicians also have a role to play – improving rental and real estate law will ensure that charging infrastructure can be developed not just in private homes but on a much larger scale.
The manifesto states that no transportation transition will be possible without solar power. So we need many, many more solar installations to cover the growing electricity demand. How much potential do you think photovoltaics offers for e-mobility?
Photovoltaics has two significant advantages. Solar power can be generated almost anywhere, at very affordable prices. Continuing to expand photovoltaics will have a negligible impact in terms of costs and will bring enormous benefits for supply security and the progress of the energy transition across every sector. But the expansion needed is in the range of ten gigawatts per year. So if we really want to roll out e-mobility on a larger scale, we need to deploy ten times as much new capacity.
Charging infrastructure also needs to be expanded on a massive scale. In the future, do you think that electric vehicles will mostly be charged in private homes or at public, commercial EV charging stations?
The vast majority of charging will take place in private homes and rental accommodation. It’s estimated that by 2022 there will be a million electric vehicles on Germany’s streets and around a million private charging points in the country. That will be complemented by suitable public infrastructure in urban centers and along highways.
What business models involving photovoltaics and e-mobility do you consider particularly promising?
The new possibilities for installers, electricity traders, the real estate industry and operators of PV systems are enormous. Some installers are already offering a full package including a solar installation and storage system, a wall box and an electric vehicle. But this is just the beginning. Locally generated solar power, smart charging and autonomous driving will radically change the way we get around. We’ll see a shift to “mobility as a service”.
How important do you consider the exhibition Power2Drive for the transformation of our transportation sector?
Power2Drive launched at the right time and in the right place to give the clean mobility industry a home. It’s a platform not just for electric cars but also for the smart technology that goes with them. The exhibition is held alongside its sister events Intersolar, ees and EM-Power under the umbrella of The smarter E – a prime example of sector coupling. Power2Drive is unquestionably an attractive showcase and an excellent marketplace for the future-oriented mobility industry.