What is the status of the nationwide fast charging network in Germany?

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The Federal Government wants to increase the attractiveness of electric mobility by expanding the fast-charging network. In May, the Bundestag passed the "Act on the Provision of Nationwide Fast Charging Infrastructure for Pure Battery Electric Vehicles", Schnellladegesetz (SchnellLG) for short. It came into force on 1 July. The Federal Ministry of Transport published a concept paper on the so-called "German network". We have taken a look at the most important key points!


To understand why a nationwide fast charging network is so important in Germany, one must first understand the differences between a normal charging station for electric cars and a fast charging station.

The purpose of fast charging stations is to enable people on longer journeys (e.g. business or holiday trips) to continue their journey with their e-car within a very short time. With the help of higher charging capacities, the e-vehicles can be charged more quickly and the journey can begin sooner. By way of comparison, normal charging involves charging power of up to 22 kilowatts, above which it is referred to as fast charging.

But what does that mean in concrete terms? An electric vehicle with 58 kilowatt hours of battery power needs about 5 hours at best to charge up to around 80 percent at an 11 kW wallbox. If the electric car is parked overnight, this is no problem. However, if you are on your way to a business appointment, that is too long. DC fast-charging stations with, for example, 150 kilowatt hours therefore manage the same charge in about 20 minutes - just enough time for a coffee and a snack.

Contribution graphic Fast charging network Comparison of charging times of charging stations

The mobility turnaround therefore not only needs electric cars, but also the appropriate charging infrastructure to go with them. The expansion of the fast charging network is therefore an important goal for the legislator and is to be welcomed.


You will already find more than 20,000 charging points in Germany, of which more than 3,500 are fast charging points: On motorways, federal roads or in towns. Some of them are only for charging, others are already installed at rest stops, so that even an extensive breather is no problem. The German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have the most fast-charging stations, while Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt have the highest proportion of fast-charging points.

In the following map from the Federal Network Agency, you can immediately recognise all fast charging stations with the help of the red pins and see for yourself:


A fast-charging network for medium- and long-distance mobility is to be established at 200 motorway points and a further 900 regional locations by 2023. The federal government wants to ensure that a nationwide and closely meshed fast charging network with at least 1,000 charging locations is established. For this reason, it is inviting tenders for 1,100 locations with minimum standards. It should also be possible to meet demand at peak times. Therefore, uneconomical locations will also be tendered together with economically attractive locations. So-called high-power charging infrastructure with a capacity of at least 150 kW at the respective charging points will be included in the tender.


The Federal Ministry of Transport is inviting tenders for 900 charging locations away from the motorways in rural, urban and suburban areas. To this end, the Federal Ministry of Transport is planning six areas across the federal states, for which three to four lots are planned. However, these lots do not include specific locations, but rather search areas. The number of charging points will be determined via www.standorttool.de. The "StandortTOOL" is the planning tool developed by the National Charging Infrastructure Control Centre on behalf of the BMVI.

According to the concept paper, a lot is composed of economically attractive and less attractive search areas. The federal government also wants to avoid a monopoly in individual regions. Therefore, in each region, a small lot of about 20 sites, which is particularly interesting for small and medium-sized enterprises, and two to three further lots with about 50 to 70 sites each will be put out to tender. In addition, the regional lots are to be cut according to the business models of regionally active companies.


To ensure that economically less attractive locations are developed in the same way as attractive ones, the federal government contractually obliges the bidders to set up and operate the charging points. In addition, the federal government defines supply and quality standards.


The exact standards will only be named in the tender, but the concept paper names a few key points. For example, the "charging experience" should be user-friendly. First of all, this means that the fast-charging infrastructure must be easy to find, both digitally and physically. The requirements range from the simple transmission of the occupancy status to highly visible signage and proper lighting of the locations. In addition, the paper mentions a customer-friendly and flexible payment and billing process as a requirement.


In terms of construction, the ministry requires that vehicles of the classes M1 and N1 can use the charging stations without restrictions. This applies to charging stations, access routes and thoroughfares. In addition, the concept provides for barrier-free access and operation as well as roofing of the charging stations. The stay should be "pleasant", which also includes access to a toilet. The proximity to a restaurant is also mentioned as a positive criterion.


As a minimum technical standard, the concept provides for a nominal charging capacity (charging capacity at 400 V) of at least 150 kW for each charging point. For this purpose, the grid connection must also be sufficiently and also expandably dimensioned. The electricity for operating the site and the charging facilities should come from renewable energies. The installed charging systems should have the highest possible energy efficiency.


The law stipulates that the 200 motorway sites will probably be put out to tender in at least four lots. The tender will be carried out by the federally owned Autobahn GmbH and coordinated with the National Charging Infrastructure Control Centre and the Ministry. The ministry will set the requirements in the same way as for the regional lots.
The fast-charging stations are to be built on unmanaged car parks owned by the federal government. In this way, they are to supplement the charging infrastructure already built or planned at managed rest areas or car parks. The aim is for the respective charging points to be around ten minutes' drive or 15 to 30 kilometres apart. The ministry hopes that this will ensure an efficient total charging time even across several charging stops during a journey.


Every charging electricity provider should receive the same non-discriminatory B2B price for electricity purchases. In addition, ad-hoc charging should not be "artificially made more expensive" than contract-based charging. The tender will probably include a base amount with the electricity costs, a revenue share to be returned to the federal government and a flexible upper limit. In this way, the operators would be left some leeway in setting prices. The Ministry of Transport rejects a price regulation for the entire fast-charging infrastructure.


There is criticism of the federal government's idea to also promote the development of unmanaged sites. Without kiosks, toilets or gastronomic offers, they are hardly sustainable in the long term. Without upgrading through a suitable infrastructure, the sites would remain unattractive for users, critics say. Here, the federal government must also provide funding for the corresponding supply and quality standards.

The tender design is also criticised by potential bidders and their interest groups. In particular, it is criticised that the lot size and number of lots, especially on the motorways, hinders fair competition. On the one hand, with only four lots, there is a threat of an oligopoly of a few companies that could play out their market power despite the price model. On the other hand, a distortion of competition against existing or currently planned facilities is to be feared. Criticism is also directed against the distance between the sites. It is too small and only takes into account existing infrastructure with a capacity of 150 kW or more.

A contribution by Lisa Troeger

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