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EU Sets in Place Obligations to Stimulate the Development of Alternative Fuel Strategy


Recent Happenings in APRM
November 2014

With their directive on October 22, 2014, the European Parliament and Council have officially put a start to the development of a strategy and infrastructure for alternative fuel supply in order to mitigate oil dependence and the environmental aspect of transport. Beginning November 17, 2014, every member state shall be required to design a national action plan in order to develop a market for these alternative fuels, in the transport fuel sector in particular. The directive puts forward charging outlets for electric vehicles, refueling points for natural gas (Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as well as Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)) and hydrogen.

In this respect, member states need to precisely lay down how many charging outlets they will install and which (support) measures they will take to reach these goals. The action plans need to be presented to the European Commission by November 18, 2016, after which the Commission also expects three-yearly reports from the member states in order to stay updated on progression.

With regard to the charging outlets, it was decided that a minimum amount need to be installed before December 31, 2020, 10 percent of which need to be publicly accessible. This minimum amount is set based on the national goals for electric vehicles that were already formulated in the majority of the member states and on an extrapolation of the expected electric vehicles in the entire EU. Furthermore, member states are supposed to encourage the use of non-publicly available charging outlets.

In order to make the use of the outlets easier in practice, it was decided that electricity suppliers or operators are not required to contract with the owners of electric vehicles, but they are allowed to do so. So-called 'smart' measuring systems are installed to keep track of this use. It is also possible for the operators to buy electricity from suppliers in the entire EU, which supports the EU's free market idea.

In addition to charging points for electric vehicles, member states are also asked to assess the need for shore-based power facilities for inland waterway vessels and seagoing ships in maritime and inland ports. Unless the costs (including environmental) would not outweigh the benefits or in case there is no demand, these power supplies should be installed before December 31, 2025. The same time limit applies for member states that include hydrogen and LNG supply points into their action plan. With regards to CNG supply points, the timeframe is set at December 31, 2020.

Besides technical requirements, member states are also bound to provide relevant, consistent, and clear information on motorized vehicles that are technically equipped to be fueled with these alternative sources. Clear indications in the manuals of the vehicles, at charging and refueling points, on motorized vehicles themselves and with the dealers, are recommended. This is a necessary precondition for adequate implementation of the directive and should be included in all motorized vehicles and their manuals put on the market after November 18, 2016.

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