Yesterday, in a EU transport meeting, member states were unsupportive of a huge infrastructure package which would help boost the EU’s low carbon vehicle industry. Member states showed a lack of support as such a large package would require a large amount of public funds to finance. The meeting widely discussed Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas’s proposition to multiply by 10 times the number of both recharging and refueling points for vehicles that run on alternative fuels such as electricity, hydrogen and gas.
At the Council meeting yesterday, EU states objected at the spending needed to realize these goals by 2020. EU states particularly contested an obligation for 10% of charging points to be of no cost. Ireland’s transport minister, Leo Vradkar, acknowledged that he was against the proposal as he questioned the feasibility of such project given the timeline. Further, Vradkar showed concern since low carbon vehicle technology is still evolving. “No-one wants to invest large amounts of money in a technology that might turn out to be obsolete quite quickly,” he stated.
If passed, the proposal would mandates a 300 km maximum distance between hydrogen fuel cell refueling stations. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) filling stations would be separated by 400 km. Compressed Natural Gas filling stations would be found every 150km. For electric vehicles, the EU’s plans would see recharging points increase according to each member state’s low carbon car production plans. In the UK, for example, stations would increase from 703 last year to 1.22 million in 2020. In Germany, the increase in stations would be from 1,937 to 1.5 million. Finally, France would have an increase from 1,600 to 970,000 stations.
If the proposal were to pass, Europe would be one step closer in achieving its goal of reducing carbon emissions, as cars are responsible for 12% of Europe’s carbon emissions. Further, it would relieve dependence from oil use and help diversify Europe’s energy mix, as the EU’s transportation network is 94% dependent on oil, of which 84.3% is often imported from politically or economically unstable regions. Lastly, it would help maintain competitiveness in the global clean cars race which involves countries like the US, China and Japan.
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