Estonia is now the world’s first country to adopt a nationwide fast-charging network for electric vehicles.
Officially launched on Wednesday, the network of 165 web-connected direct current fast chargers stretches across the country’s major roads with installations in urban areas with over 5,000 people as well, making for the highest concentration of DC chargers in Europe.
Along highways, these chargers keep a minimum distance of 40 to 60 kilometers, allowing electric vehicles to travel within the Baltic state without running out of power.
The chargers were produced and installed by automation provider ABB.
“ABB is delighted to have built the world’s first nationwide electric fast-charging network in Estonia,” said Ulrich Spiesshofer, head of the company’s Discrete Automation and Motion division.
“Having a nationwide fast-charging network will encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles and it will motivate other countries to invest in their own charging infrastructure,” he stressed.
While common residential power outlets require up to eight hours charging, ABB’s Terra 51 DC fast chargers need just 15 to 30 minutes to do the same work. Additionally, these chargers comply with the global industry charging standard CHAdeMO and can be used by electric cars having DC of up to 50 kilowatts or alternating current of up to 22 kW. These modes can be used at the same time, if necessary.
“The fact that recharging is so easy is one of the main reasons more and more Estonians will decide in favor of electric cars in future,” said Estonia’s Minister of the Environment, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus.
ABB won the contract for this large-scale project in 2011 and finished the network within six months. Under the terms of the contract, the company will provide technical network operating support for the chargers, which are connected to the central system through the Internet.
Meanwhile, the main operation of the fast-charging stations is handled by local third parties including finance institution KredEx, and is based on a payment scheme from the parking industry.
Electric mobility in Estonia
The nationwide fast-charging network for E.V.s is the last of the three key parts of the “electromobility in Estonia” or ELMO program, which intends to boost zero-emission private transportation and electric cars from 2011 to 2014.
The government of Estonia partnered with Mitsubishi Corporation in the program with the automaker providing 507 Mitsubishi iMiev electric cars for the Ministry of Social Affairs; aiding the development of a support system for people for acquisition of electric cars through the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications; and finally, to set up a quick-charging infrastructure for electric cars across the whole country.
In addition to ELMO, Estonia offers up to 50 percent of subsidies for the purchase cost of E.V.s to further encourage consumers to adopt the technology.
“Our entire transport policy should be based on the notion that environmentally friendly travel is the cheapest and simplest option there is,” said Minister Pentus-Rosimannus.
To date, there are about 619 all-electric cars listed in the Estonian traffic register, 500 of which are used by state officers.
According to KredEx, Estonia is rapidly becoming the world’s second-largest country next to Norway in terms of E.V. shares. In Estonia, there is one electric car registered for every 1,000 cars, while in Norway, there are four for the respective figure. – C. Dominguez