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Developing the EV charging infrastructure

Reports are consecutively stating the obvious – electrification of transportation can cut emissions drastically. However, we need a well-developed charging infrastructure to enable the electric mobility. After a decade of experience within this industry, it is legitimate to ask: Are we doing enough to make it happen?

Developing the EV charging infrastructure of Mer

From hidden locations to flagship stations

For over a decade, Mer has been working to make sustainable electric mobility easy and accessible for everyone. From the early days where the only option was to build  charging stations in the back of a parking lot or besides a dumpster, to the current situation where huge flagship stations are being commissioned all over Europe. A lot has changed in the market. New charge point operators have surfaced all over the world and car manufacturers are declaring the ICE car obsolete, one by one. But despite all these changes, one thing has remained the same – our mission. With over 36.000 chargers across Europe – and counting – Mer has set ambitious targets to deliver on our mission, fully backed by our owner Statkraft.

Throughout our markets in Norway, Sweden, Germany, UK and Austria – our project teams are working around the clock to build and commission new charging sites as fast and as often as possible. Our teams have commissioned over 100 charging bays across Europe the first 6 months of 2023. This could – and would have been more, and there is one denominator in this equation: permits to power grids.

Tremendous build-out in the UK

Developing the EV charging infrastructure of Mer

In the UK, Mer is experiencing a tremendous build-out, yet find themselves struggling with permits and legal contracts.

“In the UK we had our our best year to date on the back of our best ever month. In June, we had our record of installed sockets, so a great way to conclude the first half term. We are slightly behind on commissioning, but this is only by a matter of a few days. We have battled against legal land rights as our primary bottleneck and, we have had to manage legal contract negotiations very carefully, planning applications, hardware and switchgear availability and lead-times, distribution network operator lead-times and contractor availability” says Alex Hinchcliffe, director of public charging in Mer UK and continues:

“We have also struggled with inconsistent delivery from our energy supplier which has caused delays in achieving supply contracts and this in turn has affected our meter installs and commissioning dates. We are working on approximately 6-9 months from customer contract signature to energisation on low voltage (LV) projects and High Voltage (HV) sites have a lead time of 12-15 months from customer contract signature.”

Despite the hurdles and challenges, the team definitely have many things to look forward to.

“We are extremely excited about the the 8 bay ultra rapid hubs at Blue Diamond. These will be our first HV projects to go live in the UK and we are looking forward to do many more of these going forward”, Hinchcliffe says enthusiastically.

Living our company value – we are passionate

Developing the EV charging infrastructure

Fredrik Nordin, managing director of Mer in Sweden, is familiar with the situation.  Like their colleagues in UK, the team in Sweden are finding ways to work around the challenges to get the chargers in the ground!

“Just like our colleagues in Europe and the UK, we too are struggling with grid connection permits and securing enough power to the locations to ensure a great customer journey. At the moment we experience a 9-12 months waiting time to get grid connection. That said, our installation team is doing a tremendous job and truly living our company value being passionate! They are trying to work around the problems by being solution oriented and persistent to ensure a timely delivery nonetheless.” Nordin says, and continues:

“Their efforts have resulted in over 50 new charging bays so far this year! We are also pleased to say that we have signed a lot of agreements with land-owners, and together with our new expansion managers we are confident that our charging network develops and expands in line with our high ambitions”, Nordin ends.

Creative solutions to work around the hurdles

 Developing the EV charging infrastructure of Mer

Known as the pioneering country of EV’s, the grid still needs development to meet the increasing demands from a growing pool of EV’s. Nicholai S. Jørgensen, managing director of Mer in Norway explains:

“We have set ourselves some ambitious targets for developing our charging network in Norway. Although we have a nation-wide network already, there is always room for improvement – both on existing locations and filling gaps within the network. However, at the moment we are working hard to keep up with our targets due to one major hurdle:  the long lead time to get permit for grid connection”, says Jørgensen and continues:

“The bureaucracy in general is taking a lot of time and not to mention efforts from our side to get through, before we eve can get started on actually building the sites. Our project team is really great at both finding solutions to work around these challenges and to push the different instances to keep things moving. We have so many great sites planned in our project portfolio, and our project team is on stand-by to work their magic once we’re getting the permits and approvals we need.”

Good planning and different strategies giving results

Nicholai S. Jørgensen

“The waiting time for grid connections varies a lot in Germany, from a few weeks to over a year, depending on the location. What puts heavy burden on the entire industry is the delivery time for for grid transformers, which is over 50 weeks. Through good and forward-looking order management, we have so far been able to keep the negative impact to a minimum, says Otto Loserth, director of public charging in Mer Germany”, and continues:

“I am pleased to see that we are also very successful in acquiring individual sites on stand alone contracts, which means we are able to develop and fill gaps in our EV charging infrastructure.  And in our partnership with NIO, we will be able to open our first joint flagship location by the end of this year – which we are really looking forward to”, Loserth ends.

 

We are Passionate.

We are Sustainable.

We are Entrpreneurial.