The big conversion: Preparing Europe for an electric car revolution
The Agenda

The rate of growth for the electric car industry is reliant on sufficient investment in infrastructure, according to a senior advisor for the non-governmental organization that works with the EU on policy.

Jaap Burger from the Regulatory Assistance Project, who works to advance the transition towards clean and reliable energy sources, was heavily involved in the roll-out of charging points for electric cars in Amsterdam in 2010 and explains that infrastructure investment is key to meeting Europe's climate change goals.


Charging is more time-consuming than filling up at a fuel station. Depending on the model and the charger used, it can take nearly 12 hours or even longer for some larger electric vehicles. 

Along with so-called 'range anxiety' – the fear of running out of battery on longer journeys – it is hampering sales. Could a widespread infrastructure update help?


Asked by The Agenda's Stephen Cole whether the world can adapt quickly enough to electric cars, Burger says it would require adjustments to both infrastructure and lifestyle.

"We've planned buildings in a very traditional way," he says. "But if you look at an electric car, it becomes a flexible energy buffer for your house. It can absorb energy and feed energy back to the building.

"It's about preparing our streets and our buildings for this. We know a lot about mobility, where people drive to, and we especially know where people are staying for longer times. If a vehicle is parked, you can use that time to flexibly charge it."

On the danger of poorer nations around the world left behind, Burger says it's all about the timing.

"They definitely aren't left behind – they can learn a lot from front-runners like London and Oslo and others that I've worked with," he insists. "It's really helpful to have a demand-driven roll-out of charging structure – you don't need to build all stations right now."


Supposing the much-discussed switch works, what if there's a sudden surge in demand for electric cars?

"We know the mobility patterns so we can map electricity demand, and we can start building charging infrastructure and preparing homes and offices," says Burger.

"We need to make sure that buildings are ready for EVs, and we need to make sure that we can use the flexibility in charging them or maybe even discharging – we need 'smarter' buildings."


Volvo's recently-appointed Chief Financial Officer Björn Annwall reveals how the Swedish car manufacturer plans to make electric-only vehicles by its 2030 deadline, as well as the challenge of convincing EV-hesitant consumers.

Gerard Barron, CEO and Chairman of DeepGreen (soon known as The Metals Company), says there are enough battery metals on the seabed to power a global electric transport system.

Search Trends