EnBW wins Rewe as a customer

Stuttgart The supermarket giant Rewe wants to build a charging infrastructure across Germany so that customers can quickly charge their electric car while shopping. To this end, the energy company EnBW is to set up over 100 fast charging locations in the retail company’s parking lots in a first step, the companies announced on Monday. Six charging points are to be created per parking lot.

This includes charging stations of the highest performance class with an output of up to 300 kilowatts – so-called high-power chargers (HPC). Depending on the equipment, a vehicle can charge electricity for 100 kilometers within five minutes. Charging is chargeable from the start.

According to the company, around 500 more fast charging stations are to be built in the next steps. Rewe also commissioned the Shell Group with the same volume. Germany will be divided between the two contractors. How exactly is not yet certain.

“Electromobility is noticeably gaining momentum, and that certainly also applies to the expansion of the charging infrastructure,” says EnBW boss Frank Mastiaux to the Handelsblatt. The former BP manager described the Rewe deal as a giant step for the fast charging network. The Rewe Group, including Penny and Nahkauf, has over 6000 supermarkets in Germany.

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The energy company is pushing ahead with the development of the charging infrastructure. “EnBW is determined to make great use of resources. We put a charging station into operation every day, ”emphasizes Mastiaux. The group has been investing over 100 million euros a year since 2019, up to now around 250 million euros. A total of one billion euros will probably flow into the charging stations.

EnBW aims to break even with the investment by 2025. But it will take years before the capital is earned again. “Such infrastructure projects are calculated over a life cycle of 15 years,” says EnBW. Cooperation with retail chains such as Rewe, which promise a very high customer frequency quickly, is just right.

Largest fast charging network in Germany

The southern German energy company already operates the largest fast charging network in Germany. Before the end of this year, EnBW will commission the largest European charging park for ultra-fast charging at Kamener Kreuz with 52 HPC charging points. In September of this year, it set up a fast charging park with 20 charging points in Unterhaching near Munich at one of the busiest shopping centers in Germany. Other such large locations are to follow.

EnBW already operates a total of 650 fast charging locations with over 1,600 fast charging points. The plan is to expand the network to 2,500 locations by 2025. If this is implemented, EnBW alone will then have more charging locations than the petrol companies’ petrol stations today.

The group is also building more fast charging locations in Germany than Ionity, for example. Porsche had joined forces with parent companies VW, Mercedes, BMW, Ford and Hyundai to form the joint venture for fast charging stations. The goal of building 400 fast-charging locations in Europe has now almost been achieved.

Hildegard Müller, President of the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), recently criticized the fact that the charging infrastructure in Germany is being expanded too slowly. The country is still a long way from the goal of one million charging points by 2030. To achieve this, according to Müller, 2000 charging stations would have to be set up every week. Currently there are fewer than 300 per week.

The German race to catch up is also urgently needed. Because the electrical pioneer Tesla has already covered Europe with more than 20,000 so-called superchargers. For Tesla boss Elon Musk, charging was an original part of the strategy from the start.

EnBW boss Mastiaux sometimes feels that his commitment is being held back by increasing regulation and bureaucratisation on the part of the state. “Some of the regulatory framework conditions are just not helpful,” complains Mastiaux. A compulsory installation of credit card terminals, for example, is simply backward-looking, since more modern, digital payment methods have long been available.

EnBW boss Mastiaux: “Germany network is technically overregulated”

In principle, Mastiaux advocates state incentives for the charging infrastructure. Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) recently gave the go-ahead for the tender for 1000 additional fast charging locations. “The next fast charging station must be reachable in ten minutes,” said Scheuer, setting an ambitious goal. The federal government is spending around two billion euros on the “Deutschlandnetz” program.
But the EnBW boss points out: “When building the charging infrastructure, we mustn’t repeat the same mistakes as when expanding renewable energies, which is slowed down by complicated bureaucratic processes.” Last year, for example, 13,000 charging points were funded – in operation however, only 3,000 were taken.

From Mastiaux’s point of view, the “Germany Network” has even become so complicated that the first notification for funding can be expected in the fourth quarter of 2023 at the earliest. This means that there will be no location funded from this program before 2025. By then, EnBW is almost through with its development program.

In addition, the “Germany network” is technically overregulated. Not even Europe’s largest charging park at Kamener Kreuz could meet the requirement of a continuous output of 200 kW around the clock. “To do this, we would need eleven medium-voltage connections, which on the one hand are not available and on the other hand are not technically necessary. That would make the location 90 percent more expensive ”.

In addition, the calibration law for the systems is so complicated that most manufacturers are still unable to certify their systems. The new federal government calls on Mastiaux to coordinate the regulatory framework with the EU in order to enable comprehensive, uniform and Europe-wide fast charging infrastructure: “There must be no special national solutions,” demands Mastiaux.

More: With the Porsche to the luxury lounge: German manufacturers are tinkering with their own charging concepts for electric cars.

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