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Inge Jacobs

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It is expected that 1.7 million charging points are needed in 2030 to be able to charge all electric cars. Various smart techniques and innovations are now being tested on a large scale in the Smart Charging Plaza Experimental Garden, in order to enable the realization of this target number in a fast and efficient manner. Project leader at the National Charging Infrastructure Knowledge Platform Robbie Blok tells about seventeen golden lessons from that living lab on 19 March during the Charging Infrastructure Congress.

A charging plaza in this testing ground means that more than two connections have been created behind the meter. Meanwhile, in 19 municipalities 22 charging plazas, with 2019 charging points behind them. The project is characterized by a good geographical spread throughout the Netherlands, a very practical approach and the high numbers.

“The great thing about this testing ground is that we apply the innovations directly. This is where knowledge, experience and practice come together”, says Blok. “There are all kinds of smart techniques under development that we would like to test. This can be done better with higher numbers – that gives better dynamics.” The project group actively shares the acquired knowledge on various platforms, so that municipalities have access to it. It is still possible to register for the conference.

Techniques The Smart Charging Squares Experimental Garden was started in 2019 and is part of the National Agenda Charging Infrastructure. The project receives a subsidy from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The project aims to answer all kinds of questions about smart charging plazas in order to take an informed next step and ultimately make charging plazas attractive to users. Developments in the field of charging infrastructure follow each other in rapid succession and quite a bit is involved in the realization of those 1.7 million charging points.

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Before various techniques are therefore being tested, such as smart charging and vehicle-to-grid. Smart charging means that the charging of electric cars is better controlled by balancing. In other words: through smart charging, the peak in demand is spread over a number of hours.

Vehicle-to-grid means that the car battery can supply electricity back to the grid. All 2019 charging points are now suitable for this. It is true that there are still few cars that now have the option of returning energy to the grid, but according to Blok, this solves the chicken-and-egg problem: if there is infrastructure, the cars will follow automatically.

Clustering is preferred It is important that municipalities think about the realization of charging infrastructure in the coming years, because a large part of that 1.7 million charging points will have to be created in the public space. Is it desirable that there will soon be a charging station in front of every front door? And is it the smartest way to deploy the limited financial resources for one single pole? “Clustering charging points saves raw materials, people and labour”, according to Blok.

Smart charging is also inevitable. The kind of smart techniques that are being tested in this living lab are necessary to prevent the electricity grid from becoming bogged down. Blok: “If you charge smarter, you can do a lot with the existing network.”

Sharing lessons The project consists of three phases, of which the first – the realization phase – has now been completed. Seventeen golden lessons have already emerged from this phase, which Blok will share during the congress. One of these is the advice to appoint a project leader from the municipality. Coordination is necessary with various departments within the municipality, but also with the project executor and the network operator. Direction is important here.

This is followed by a phase of data collection. Knowledge sharing is a spearhead of the project and it is therefore the intention to share all the findings of this project in order to help all municipalities with the roll-out of charging infrastructure. Blok: “We are satisfied when municipalities include charging plazas in their charging mix. That in addition to the regular charging station, fast chargers and large fast charging stations, such as Fastned, they also think of a charging plaza.”

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