Denmark is on its way to being CO2 neutral by 2025 achieving this goal means going electric. SMART brought me to Copenhagen to drive their Fully Electric Smart around through an ecosystem that taken electrification to the next level.
Copenhagen is a city of 1.3M and it’s working on being one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world and going electric is at the center of the movement. Last year Denmark reached a tipping point where they had more electric charging stations then they did petrol stations. Their commitment to going electric is being realized.
Most European countries already have quite an extensive public charging network, and a road trip to visit a summer house isn’t an impossibility anymore. Here’s a short overview on charging infrastructure development for all you statistics lovers.
Nordic countries, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland, have one of the highest ratios of EV’s per capita in the world. Four out of these five countries already have a market share above 2%, with Norway leading the way with the highest market share level in the world.
By the end of 2017, approximately 250 000 electric cars had been registered in the Nordic countries. The number of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) outlets was more than 260 000. Most of these charging points locate at residential buildings or workplaces and over 16 000 are public.
In the fully electric Smart FourTWO I drove around Denmark and tested the charging system. We were armed with all the local payment cards and whenever we went looking for a charging station we had no problem hooking up and charging our car. Even when I wanted to top up over lunch I was able to get a changing station right next to the restaurant.
Like many cities, digital payment systems for parking have started rolling out. EasyPark was our app of choice in Copenhagen and like most parking apps as a tourist or visitor it’s really not more convenient than just finding a machine on the street and putting some money in. As someone who visits a lot of cities looking for parking, being able to find lots on a map is great. However, the sign-up process means you need WiFi or a phone number that works perfectly on their network. Someone traveling may not have access to the same services as a local. The GPS positioning in often incorrect is city centers thanks to the tall buildings, EasyPark makes you select where your car is. In our case, it wasn’t correct so we ended up getting a ticket even though we paid for parking. Street signs being a foreign language and the apps often don’t incorporate real-time parking rules so figuring out if your parking legally is still a problem.
GoBoat is all electric, 80% of the rentals are from locals getting out and enjoying their seafaring roots. In the summer reservations are long. The boats themselves are made of recycled materials and they’ve actually lowered the speed since the point of getting on the water is to socialize, sightseeing is an added bonus. The boats are powered by an environmentally friendly electrical engine from Torqeedo, which uses batteries that are charged by solar cells on the roof of the pavilion.
If you thought electric boats were neat, wait until you see the electric ferry that travels between Denmark and Sweden. Ferries are a perfect place to start if you’re looking to create an electric transportation system on the water. They often travel only short distances and stay for relatively long periods of time at the same ports, where they can be charged.
The HH Ferries Group’s two ferries, the Tycho Brahe and the Aurora, operate a 4-km (2.5 miles) ferry route between Helsingborg (Sweden) and Helsingör (Denmark). Therefore, the route that they are converting to all-electric transport is not exactly impressive, but that shouldn’t take away from the ships themselves, which are really something.
They are 238 meters long (780 ft) and weight 8,414 tonnes. They carry 7.4 million passengers and 1.9 million vehicles annually.
This pair consumes the highest amount of green energy from the grid. The city had to make an investment into these ferry’s going green, they had to lay 3km of cables to the port to make it happen. The infrastructure demands of such a project exist in an ecosystem, one single point can’t decide to be electric, the infrastructure has to be in place.
It takes 20min to pass back and forth between the piers takes 20minutes and they have 8min and 12min to recharge on either side. This means they need to move a lot of power very quickly to the batteries that sit on top of the boat. They can do two runs on one charge just in case something goes wrong on one end and when you see how they’re charged you can see there was a lot of room for error.
ABB has 2 robots arms that attach the charging ports, it was a massive undertaking to get these to work since the boat is a moving target and they’re typically running in a factory where targets are static.
The energy supplied is from wind, water and solar and the cells are changed leaving the battery intact to minimize the environmental impact.
Everything I’d experienced so far was a part of a plan laid 25 years ago when Copenhagen was on the verge of bankruptcy. Three major projects brought the city back to life, the metro, terminal 3 and the Øresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmo.
Copenhagen and Malmo have a combined population of 3.8M and consider themselves to be a cross-national region. People from Malmo commute to Copenhagen as the salaries are high in Denmark and the cost of living lower in Malmo. The bridge created a new economic zone expanding the capacity and capabilities of Copenhagen while undertaking a project that created jobs.
Small countries can be first movers their size and population make them agile. Testing out the sustainable infrastructure, I saw some pain points, how do you limit charging time to make sure everyone gets a turn. I never encountered a charging plug that didn’t have at least one free space, but Denmark choose the egg before the chicken. They built the infrastructure and are now just waiting for the rest of us to catch up.
Smart sponsored our travel to participate in this tour around Scandinavia, all thoughts and ideas are our own.