National charging strategy

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1 Summary

Illustration photo. Highway traffic.

Image: Olav Heggø

Emissions from road traffic must be reduced – continued electrification is an important initiative

In 2021, road transport was responsible for almost 18 percent of Norwegian emissions. These emissions must be greatly reduced if we are to fulfil Norway’s international obligations on the reduction of emissions. This reduction requires less road transport, more use of biofuels and a transition to zero-emission vehicles.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are likely to be the preferred zero-emission technology in many vehicle segments towards 2030, even if other technologies eventually can become more relevant. If we are to achieve the goals for the vehicle population in 2025 and 2030, the provision of publicly accessible rapid charging for light vehicles must continue to grow, and a fundamental network of rapid charging stations for heavy vehicles must be established.

Boks 1.1 Government goals for the development of the vehicle population

  • New passenger cars and light vans shall be zero-emission vehicles from 2025.
  • New heavy vans shall be zero-emission vehicles from 2030.
  • New city buses shall use zero-emission technology or biogas from 2025.
  • Before 2030, 75 percent of new coaches and 50 percent of new lorries shall utilise zero-emission technology.

This strategy puts in concrete terms what the government intends to do to further develop the national charging infrastructure for EVs. The charging market for light vehicles is now mature and the infrastructure can be constructed on a commercial basis without further public subsidy. For heavy vehicles, it may be necessary to have public subsidies during the initial phase. In both cases it is important to have appropriate terms and conditions for the use of land areas and grid capacity. It is also necessary to make the charging infrastructure more user-friendly, so that it becomes easy for everyone to be a customer in the charging market.

An effective system for grid connections and grid utilisation

The electricity grid is an important framework for the deployment of charging infrastructure. An effective system for grid connections and grid utilisation is a premise to be able to set up further rapid charging stations and to ensure charging services that are in proportion to demand.

Grid connection is required to set up a charging station. Grid companies are obliged to connect all customers who requires it to the grid, and requests for connections shall be managed based on objective and non-discriminatory criteria. Grid companies and energy authorities are now experiencing great demand from customers who wish rapid connection to the electricity grid. Grid companies must ensure that all customers receive a grid connection with the capacity they require, without undue delay. Many grid customers, including charging operators, find the process with the grid companies challenging and that order processing in many cases restrict their deployment schedules. However, there will not always be sufficient grid capacity available at all locations where a new connection is requested, and grid planning and construction is time consuming.

In June 2022, the Electricity Grid Commission published their Official Norwegian Report (NOU) Future development of the electricity grid in Norway to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. The commission proposed several measures to improve the connection process and reduce installation times for grid expansion and grid connection. As a part of the follow-up of the report, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) has already been requested to implement measures to reduce licence processing times.

The government will:

  • Consider the Electricity Grid Commission’s recommendations to reduce the time taken to implement grid expansion and grid connections.
  • Reduce the time it takes to process grid licensing applications, and has therefore proposed to expand the case processing capacity in NVE significantly in the state budget for 2023.
  • Increase the efficiency of the licensing processes and electricity grid reports that are used in the planning of the electricity grid, through increased digitalisation, and has therefore proposed increased allocations for NVE’s digitialisation projects in the state budget for 2023.

Charging infrastructure requires land area

Set up of rapid chargers places demands on land area – this applies in particular to charging stations for heavy vehicles. Particularly in and around large towns, land areas can be scarce and deployment of charging stations can easily come into conflict with other considerations, requirements, and community interests.

Sites for charging infrastructure are governed by the Planning and Building Act. In the capacity of planning and building authorities, municipalities have a significant responsibility for allocating sufficient sites for charging stations in their zoning plans. State policy instruments in area policies focus particularly on offering guidance and direction.

The government will:

  • Offer additional guidance to municipalities in the application of the Planning and Building Act to allocate sufficient land areas for the deployment of charging infrastructure.
  • Reference the need for deployment of charging infrastructure in the national strategy for regional and municipal planning 2023–2027.
  • Consider setting out national planning guidelines to assist municipalities in allocating areas for the deployment of charging infrastructure.

Enova, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and Nye Veier

For some time, Enova has been the state’s most important policy instrument in subsidising deployment of publicly accessible charging infrastructure for light vehicles. As the number of EVs has increased, the demand for rapid charging along the road network has also increased and most charging stations have been set up on purely market-related terms and without public subsidies. This development is expected to continue.

The phasing in of heavy EVs has however not progressed quite as far. It is not expected that the number of vehicles will be sufficient to ensure adequate profitability for a purely commercial charging service before the market is more firmly established, and the first charging stations are likely to be dependent on public subsidy. Charging infrastructure for heavy vehicles also requires larger areas and greater capacity in the electricity grid than the charging infrastructure for light vehicles. The two charging services must be physically separated for traffic safety reasons. To avoid time consumption and driver costs becoming significantly higher than for diesel vehicles, charging will have to take place during the drivers’ mandatory rest periods. The development of charging services for heavy vehicles should therefore be seen in context with the development of the road network and overnight rest areas. There is a need for a plan for where and when charging services for heavy vehicles should be installed along the national road network. There will also be a need for charging services close to large towns, at goods terminals, harbours and other locations where goods are loaded and unloaded, as well as depot charging overnight.

The government will:

  • Request that the Public Roads Administration continues its work on charting the needs and opportunities for deployment of charging infrastructure along the national road network, for both light and heavy vehicles.
  • Request that the Public Roads Administration reduce barriers to the development of charging infrastructure both for heavy and light vehicles, by communicating a clear leasing strategy and terms upon deployment in the agency’s areas, including overnight rest areas and rest stops.
  • Use Enova as the state instrument for supporting the development of charging infrastructure for heavy vehicles in an initial phase, where there is a need for public subsidy and where development will not take place on commercial terms
  • Appoint the Public Roads Administration, in dialogue with Nye Veier and Enova the task of preparing a plan for charging stations for heavy vehicles along the national road network, showing where and when there is a need to set these up. The plan shall be completed before 1 July 2023 and updated at regular intervals, in line with developments in the market.
  • Request that the Public Roads Administration, Nye Veier AS and Enova collaborate on the deployment of the first publicly accessible charging stations for heavy vehicles at overnight rest areas and general rest stops, and if appropriate at other sites along the national road network.
  • Ensure that deployment and operation of charging stations for heavy vehicles, as rapidly as possible, will be able to take place on commercial terms without public subsidy.

Ensure that charging services are simple to use

The adequate provision of publicly accessible rapid chargers is a premise for ensuring that the goals for phasing in of zero-emission vehicles can be realised. In addition, the charging infrastructure must be simple to use. Preferably EV charging should be as easy as filling a conventional vehicle tank with diesel or petrol. This is not the case at present.

Firstly, it can be difficult to obtain information on the location of accessible chargers, whether they are in operation or not, and whether they are in use or available. In the heavy vehicle segment in particular, it is important to avoid drivers having to spend time searching for an available and functioning charger or having to wait in a charging queue. Charging should be bookable for bus and lorry drivers.

Secondly, there is a need for a simple standardised payment solution in a market characterised by many and varied methods of payment for rapid charging. Most charging operators have their own solutions based on text message-based payments, mobile applications/apps, QR codes with a link to an app/website, RFID tags associated with the user in a charging service/app, or direct connection with the EV. Very few charging stations offer card payment.

Thirdly, it is often difficult to find price information. Charging operators can use varying calculations and price models and the price can be a combination of the charger output, how many kWh are charged and how long the vehicle occupies the charging point.

The requirement for universal design is founded in several Norwegian laws. However, accessibility of rapid chargers is a challenge, e.g. for wheelchair users and others with reduced mobility. If the goals for phasing in zero-emission vehicles are to be achieved, the charging infrastructure must be accessible to all vehicle users.

Some of the challenges above correlate with the desire of charging operators to minimise investment and operational costs and to ensure customer loyalty through reward programmes and subscriptions. On the one hand, good profitability for charging operators is positive with the setting up of charging stations and new vehicle sale goals in mind. Costly requirements from authorities can dampen both the drive for innovation and the desire to set up additional stations among charging operators and may also increase prices for consumers. On the other hand, the lack of information concerning where one can find a functioning charger, complex payment solutions, absence of price information and inadequate physical adaptation can lead to frustration and longer queues at charging stations than if the service had been more streamlined. In the worst case, low user-friendliness can slow down the phasing in of electric vehicles.

The government will:

  • Start a consultation on a proposal to place requirements for card payment and/or contactless payment (NFC) at all new charging points over 50 kW from 2023 and that a deadline is set for post-installation at existing charging points.
  • Require uniform price information for charging and that price information shall be easily available before charging so that it is easy to compare prices across charging operators.
  • Develop a market portal for rapid charging of light vehicles.
  • Introduce a requirement that publicly accessible charging stations must provide real-time information/dynamic data on whether chargers are available or in use, along with operational status to the NOBIL database.
  • Request that the Public Roads Administration initiate the development of a user-friendly app for navigation, booking and if applicable, payment solutions for heavy vehicles, in cooperation with market operators.
  • Contribute to establishing a Norwegian standard for the universal design of charging infrastructure.