Hannover. This is good news for manufacturers and suppliers of charging infrastructure, who will be presenting their innovative product portfolios at HANNOVER MESSE in good spirits, now that sales are heading up. One such company is Mennekes Elektrotechnik GmbH & Co. KG, a medium-sized business based in the Sauerland region: "2019 is going to be a very exciting year for us," says Alfred Vrieling, head of sales at Mennekes. "The American car maker Tesla will be launching its Model 3 on the German market, and we'll see what happens then." Vrieling is optimistic about the future, as he contemplates the mobility revolution that is just around the corner: "When electromobility really takes off, we'll definitely be part of it." As well as the domestic market, the technology company from Siegen has the whole of Europe in its sights, with Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands currently doing the most to promote electromobility.
But market growth depends on continuing expansion of the infrastructure. As well as developing suitable plugs and connectors, Mennekes has been concentrating for years on the installation and servicing of charging points. "You only make a journey in an electric car if you know it is easy to recharge the battery when you reach your destination," says Vrieling, who drives an electric car himself, and therefore knows what he is talking about. "Before people will really embrace electric-powered travel, we need to build confidence and ensure greater continuity and availability." And what we also need as a matter of urgency, argues Vrieling, are "fixed tariffs agreed between providers and operators of charging points." As he goes on to point out, this will require some form of government legislation to avoid chaos in the future.
Talking of government involvement: the National Platform for Electromobility (NPE) has calculated that we will need 70,000 public charging points and 7,100 fast charging points in Germany by 2020. The Federal government has allocated 300 million euros of funding up until the year 2020 for the expansion of the public charging network to meet growing demand. What is still uncertain is how today's power grid is going to cope with the rising demand, and how the necessary infrastructure can be made available both in major conurbations and in rural areas.
Once power grids been fully digitized, industry insiders are confident that the market for electromobility will grow rapidly. There is already a demand for intelligent technologies of the kind that firms such as ABB and Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG will be displaying at the upcoming HANNOVER MESSE in April. As more parking space is needed for recharging electric vehicles, real-world charging times will have to be as short as possible. This means that the battery packs of electric cars will need to be charged with a current of up to 500 kW in order to receive a sufficient charge for a range of 100 kilometers within three to five minutes. "We will need sufficient energy to cope with these high charging capacities, and one way of doing this might be to provide local energy storage facilities," explains Eva von der Weppen, press officer for Phoenix Contact. "This makes it possible to reduce the connected load of the charging park to the minimum required, so that there is always sufficient energy available at motorway service stations, for example. In addition, these charging stations must be able to deliver the high charging capacities to the electric vehicle safely and conveniently. We already offer a viable commercial solution, in the shape of our cooled HPC (High Power Charging) charging cables," notes von der Weppen. This presupposes (she adds) that the battery packs in electric cars can take the high charging capacities, and that they have been engineered for a sufficient number of charging cycles to ensure a long service life. Further work is needed to resolve these technical issues.
The global technology concern ABB is also working on the charging infrastructure. At last year's HANNOVER MESSE, ABB unveiled its Terra High Power charging station, with a charging capacity of up to 350 kilowatts (kW). This is capable of delivering a charge sufficient for a range of 200 km in just eight minutes – which makes the latest top-of-the-range model from ABB ideally suited for use in motorway service areas and filling stations. As a result, this product from ABB is being installed in growing numbers worldwide so that there are already thousands of fast charging stations in operation in 60 countries. This makes ABB one of the world's leading suppliers of DC charging solutions – charging technologies designed for the electrification not only of cars, but also of buses, trucks, ships, railways and cable cars.
HANNOVER MESSE is the perfect place for ABB and other specialist exhibitors large and small to get talking with customers from all over the world, and thus to drive the mobility revolution fueled by renewable energy.