Netherlands Builds Nationwide EV Fast-Charging Network

Range anxiety is real for electric vehicle (EV) drivers. But it will soon be a thing of the past for EV owners in the Netherlands.

Fastned, a Dutch electric vehicle charging network company, has chosen ABB to provide more than 200 DC fast-charging stations that will blanket the country of more than 16 million people. The chargers will all be within 50 kilometers of each other.

It is not surprising that Fastned chose ABB to provide the charging stations, since the Fastend founders worked at a Dutch EV charging company called Epyon B.V., which was acquired by ABB in 2011.

The network will be the world’s largest nationwide fast-charging system to-date. The multi-standard chargers will bypass the standards war that is going on in DC fast charging by offering both Japan’s CHAdeMO and the Combined Charging System (CCS) from the Society of Automotive Engineers.  The average charge will take 15-30 minutes wiith a 50-kilowatt charger. The entire network should be built by 2015. Every station, which will be next to already-existing service stations on the highway, will be equipped with solar roof tiles.  

“This countrywide network of locations will lay the basis for the commercially viable development of e-mobility,” Bart Lubbers, one of Fastned’s founders, said in a statement. “I foresee a race towards faster charging and larger batteries throughout the car industry.”

Of course faster charging means more strain on the electrical grid, so local utilities have to be on board for charging stations. In the U.S. for example, Walgreens installed more than 800 EV charging stations at its stores, but only a fraction of them could be DC fast chargers because in many store locations the power infrastructure could not support the chargers.

For nations or states that are bullish about electric vehicle networks, however, utilities will increasingly have to comply. California is also building a $122 million network of about 200 DC fast chargers and laying the groundwork for up to 10,000 240-volt level 2 chargers, which will be deployed by NRG Energy.

If a true statewide charging network is built across California, it would dwarf the system in the Netherlands, which is a little bigger than Maryland. A superhighway across the entire U.S. is even more elusive, although EV carmaker Tesla wants to do just that. Unlike the Fastned stations, however, they will be about every 130 to 160 kilometers, instead of every 50. And while the charging would be free on the Tesla network, which it won’t be in California or the Netherlands, it will only be available to owners of the Tesla Model S.

Photo: ABB

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