On the 15th of May EIF together with the European Energy Forum (EEF) hosted a lunchtime debate in the European Parliament with the title ‘Technology driving sustainability – the role of e-Mobility’. This event was chaired by Adina-Ioana Valean MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on the environment, public health and food safety, and member of the EIF Steering Committee.
Ms. Valean opened proceedings stressing that digital technologies are the key to future sustainability mobility, and that this is already becoming reality in Europe. We now need strong incentives and multi-stakeholder cooperation to ensure low-emissions growth and a sustainable and competitive industry. Her EP committee will play its role in helping to drive this agenda for Europe.
Megan Richards, Director for Energy Policy, DG ENER, European Commission, then set the EU policy framework relevant to future e-mobility, noting that the EU’s Digital Single Market agenda and our Energy Union strategy have much in common and together can help accelerate the application of digital technologies for low-emissions growth, notably through e-mobility, provided that the electrical power available to electric vehicles is itself generated from sustainable, low-emissions sources. She called particular attention to relevant components of the Energy Union Strategy, notably decentralisation as a key objective together with decarbonisation, market design provisions, and future EU funding for e-mobility relevant R&D. She also recalled that there are more jobs being created through transition to renewable energy than are being lost in carbon-based industries, and that there are provisions in the EU package for support to coal-dependent areas in transition. And also to recall that the ‘Energy Community’ treaty extends EU energy policy and regulation into neighboring countries.
Alberto Piglia, Head of e-Mobility for ENEL, then took the floor to report on ENEL’s concerted strategy and practical experience to date – notably in Italy and California - in working to open the way for e-vehicles, which will depend on three conditions : 1) lowering the total cost of ownership (battery costs are now dropping, parity with other modes now foreseen for mid-2020s); 2) growth of offerings from vehicle manufacturers; 3) build-out of infrastructure to counter the ‘fear’ of running out of charge and thus break the ‘chicken-and-egg’ syndrome. This said, the basis for this revolution will be the application of digital technologies to create smart vehicles, smart networks and especially smart charging, and thus to enable the aggregation of vehicles, to deliver benefits throughout the value chain.
Finally, Laurin Sepoetro, Senior Associate for EU public policy at Uber, gave a vision of e-mobility from a ride-sharing perspective, noting that single-owner private vehicles are not operating 95% of the time, have an average occupancy of 1, and account for over 50% of global oil consumption. The strategic objective for future sustainability needs to be to move from a ‘many cars one rider’ model to a ‘many riders one car” model. Uber are now engaged in significant pilot projects in London to test and validate different interacting components (including public transportation) of this strategy built on three pillars – ride sharing/electrification/autonomous vehicles.