Two electric cars charging at a charging station powered by a Greener battery

Electric mobility in the Netherlands and the role of mobile batteries

In this blog post, we look at the trend of electric cars, the Netherlands’ ambitions for EV chargers and electric mobility, the challenges these ambitions bring and how batteries can help with overcoming these challenges.

Electric mobility to support sustainability

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important. In the face of climate change, countries are taking up the responsibility for change and thinking of ways to reduce CO2 emissions and limit environmental impact. With transport being responsible for 16.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Ritchie & Roser, 2020)[1], this is an obvious opportunity to reducing emissions.

To take on this challenge, many countries in Europe and the whole world have passed laws and are rethinking transport as a whole. We will be looking at electric cars, charging stations and what role mobile batteries play in thismarket at the example of the Netherlands.

One solution to the emissions from transportation can be electric cars. And while sceptics point to the high environmental impact of the production of electric cars, which is indeed higher concerning CO2-emissions, the total lifecycle of a battery-powered vehicle (BEV) is at least 30% less than of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. This is the case for a grey, as well as a green energy mix, meaning that even with electricity sourced from coal BEV and Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) are more sustainable than their traditional counterparts (Verbeek, Bolech, van Gijlswijk, & Speen, 2015)[2].

Percentage of CO2 emissions of which the total lifecycle of electric vehicles are lower compared to ICE cars depending on the available energy mix
Type of vehicleGrey energy mixGreen energy mix

The Dutch approach to decarbonizing mobility

Scrutinizing the approach of the Netherlands to lowering emissions in transport, we can observe several different laws. As a European country, laws from the European Union have a big influence on the regulations in the Netherlands. The EU has the goal to be climate-neutral by 2050, which is supported by the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement. Part of the strategy to reach this goal is the decarbonization of mobility in the EU. This includes aspects such as alternative fuels, alternative means of transport, and automation of vehicles  (European Commission, 2018).[3]

With the goal of all new cars sold in 2030 being zero-emission, the Netherlands has implemented this strategy by different means on a national level.

They offer advantages to drivers of electric cars, some of which are:

  • An exemption from the motor vehicle tax, as well as the tax on passenger cars and motorbikes
  • The possibility of a lower additional tax liability
  • Subsidies for battery electric vehicles (BEV) for private individuals (€2,000 – €4,000 in 2021, €2,000 – €3,350 in 2022)
  • Subsidies for BEVs for entrepreneurs (maximum of €5,000)

This adds to the inherent advantages of driving an electric vehicle as promoted by the Dutch government:

  • A higher efficiency of electric cars compared to ICE cars
  • Not directly emitting greenhouse gases, particular matter, and nitrogen oxides
  • Contributing to clean air (Ministerie van Economische Zaken, 2016)[4]

Next to the advantages, the Dutch government also takes different actions to improve the electric car sales and charging infrastructure in the Netherlands. These include working with regional governments, communities, associations, and companies to join forces and carry out the electrification of transport together (Greendeals, 2016)[5]. Different cities and regions also offer their own subsidies for electric cars and charging stations (Nederland elektrisch, 2020)[6].

Next to supporting electric cars, ICE cars are also discouraged by introducing environmental zones in city centres. At the point in time of writing this blog post, there are 13 municipalities in the Netherlands, which restrict the transport with polluting trucks and cars with environmental zones (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, 2021)[7]. The Green Deal Zero Emission Stadslogistiek, which was signed by companies and governments in 2014, is a commitment by these parties to make the logistics in cities more sustainable and efficient. With over 200 different parties having joined the deal until 2020, the final goal is to reach zero-emission urban logistics in 2025. Additionally, 30 of the 40 largest municipalities in the Netherlands agreed to the Climate Agreement from 28th of June 2019 and committed to an introduction of zero-emission zones by 2025 (Op Weg Naar ZES, 2021)[8].

A part in the efforts of zero-emission urban logistics is the focus on the “last mile”. For most goods, the transport to and from the center of a city will either be the first or the last few kilometers on its journey. The hundreds of kilometers a good can be shipped from one country to the other are not affected by the zero-emission zones, however, the last mile is. Therefore, logistics and taxi companies need to be prepared for this development and plan for zero-emission last mile delivery (City of Rotterdam, 2019)[9].

For the charging infrastructure to match the ambitions of the government, the “Nationale Agenda Laadinfrastructuur” was put in place. Until 2030, the government expects 1.9 million electric passenger cars on the streets of the Netherlands. The agenda has made a prognosis of the charging points in the future, as well as an estimation of the necessary number of charging stations. They expect to need around 1.7 million chargers to supply the necessary electricity for the EVs. Of these 1.7 million charging stations, about 10,000 are fast charging stations. This means that on average 213 public charging stations need to be placed per working day until 2030 to achieve this goal (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, 2019)[10]. To put this into perspective, as of January 1st, 2020, there were 203,419 EV passenger cars registered, 49,520 (semi)public charging points and 1,252 fast charging points in the Netherlands (Nationale Agenda Laadinfrastructuur, 2020)[11].

Different EV chargers and the challenges they pose

The addition of thousands of EV charging stations on the electricity grid is not to be underestimated. The load on the grid is increasing as more charging stations are installed. For the charging stations, there is the important difference of AC and DC charging stations. AC is the abbreviation of “alternating current” and charging stations of this type have a power output from 12 to 40 ampere. These charging stations are also low-cost and are normally used for private parking, as well as semi-public parking, where cars will be parked for a longer time. In contrast, DC charging stations with DC meaning “direct current” are used when cars need to be charged quickly, for instance at parking areas next to the highway. These chargers are significantly more expensive, since they include a built-in converter, which converts the AC electricity supplied by the grid into DC electricity to directly charge the electric car. AC charging stations do not have this option, which results in a slower charging process, as well as lower costs. In their case, the converter included in the electric car converts the energy. Those DC charging stations are categorized into low-power DC chargers with 0 to 50 kW and high-power DC chargers for anything over 50 kW. Their energy demand is also higher with around 100 amperes, making them a particular challenge for the electricity grid and grid providers to supply suitable grid connections. Problems that can occur are higher peak demands, reduced reserves, voltage instability and a decreasing reliability of the grid (Khan, 2021)[12].

To ensure a stable grid and that all charging stations receive the necessary power, grid reinforcements are necessary. However, in the Netherlands this is proving to be a challenge. Not only charging stations, but also wind and solar parks need high-power grid connections and private individuals also demand grid connections for their solar panels and newly built houses. For instance, in 2019 waiting for 45 weeks for a grid reinforcement instead of the legal deadline of 18 weeks was not rare (Cobouw, 2019)[13].

Late grid connections can be a big problem for different groups wanting to use charging stations:

For logistics companies especially, the combination of environmental zones and delayed grid connections can be a problem. Supermarkets in the middle of cities are often within these environmental zones, while the logistic centers are in places, where the grid connection cannot easily be renewed. At the same time, electric trucks should mostly be charged at the logistics centers, since a wide-spread net of fast chargers for trucks is not realistic at this moment in time. So, while buying electric trucks can easily be done, the fast-charging stations are a challenge. Similarly, big fleets for taxi companies face this challenge. The same applies to events, where fast chargers are necessary or cases where the grid connection is delayed, while the fast charger has already been bought or rented. Since a quick solution is necessary, this might put off organizers from considering fast chargers for their future events.

An example of delayed grid connections as a real problem is the Albert Heijn distribution center in Zaandam, which was planning on adding 60 electric trucks to their fleet, since many of their supermarkets will be in the zero-emission zones of cities. However, the grid reinforcement necessary to charge the trucks with DC chargers can only be delivered by the grid operator in 2027 (Pals, 2021)[14]. This poses as a big problem for the transition to electric mobility in the Netherlands.

Charging stations in The Netherlands today and in 2030

How mobile batteries can support the transition to electric mobility

For these problems, one of the possible solutions can be a mobile battery, which has different advantages.

A mobile battery is flexible and can easily be installed. Since batteries can be rented, the investment is lower than with buying a permanent storage solution and it can be used to bridge the time until the actual grid reinforcement is delivered.

This temporary nature is also an advantage for testing DC chargers or a specific set-up before committing to a long-term investment. For a realistic test at your location, you can use a battery and ensure that the set-up you have chosen is suitable and worth your investment. By testing you can gather the necessary data and prevent investing in a set-up that is too small or too big for your needs.

Furthermore, even when only a small grid connection is available, it can be combined with a battery to supply power to fast chargers without any problems. This is supported by the functionality of peak shaving, which means that during electricity peaks the battery supplies the energy, while during off-peak hours the battery is charged by the grid connection or other energy sources.

Additionally, you are not dependent on the electricity grid with a battery. In case there is a power failure of the electricity grid, the battery will continue with delivering energy until it is empty. This gives additional safety and provides time to bridge the power failure of the grid. A real-life example of this could be at a logistics center, where the current mains connection is too small to support fast DC chargers or a high number of AC chargers. With a grid connection of 3×63 ampere, the combination with the battery ensures that either two 150kW fast chargers or 20 AC chargers can be used for charging without problems. This is an example based on the Greener Power Solutions batteries and can differ when other mobile batteries are used. Read more about mobile batteries and how they work in this blog post.

To expand on the sustainable aspect of electric cars and charging stations, a mobile battery also has the option to be connected to a sustainable energy source. For instance, solar panels or a wind park are possible. This combination works well owing to the fluctuations of the power generation by these energy sources, which can be buffered by using the battery. An example of this combination is a marketing event using electric chargers and they added a solar panel field to their set-up. While the mobile battery is charging during the daylight-hours when the solar panels are soaking up the solar energy, it can then provide sufficient energy during the evening hours when the event is held and there is not enough sunlight to directly support all electric equipment.

The ambitions of the Netherlands and other countries for electric mobility are high. As explored in this blog post, many laws and regulations are already in place, but certain challenges still arise. Mobile batteries can be one part of the solution to decentralize the electricity and bridge temporary shortcomings.


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