To enable the increased use of battery-electric trucks in transport nationwide in the near future, the establishment of a new, demand-focused charging network is already needed now. This charging infrastructure and its integration into the electricity grids are the subject of a new study commissioned by the National Centre for Charging Infrastructure.

To achieve the federal government’s climate objectives, commercial vehicles must also become more climate-friendly. By 2030, around a third of road freight transport is to be powered by alternative drives. The switch to battery-electric trucks is a key solution. For them to be successfully used, also for longer distances, we need not only a demand-oriented charging network to be newly constructed, but its connection to the power grid must also be considered and planned right from the outset. A connection to the high-voltage grid can for example, have a lead time for five to ten years.

The study entitled ‘Easy charging at service areas’, focusses on network connection issues for e-truck charging hubs and considers three different prototypical locations that can vary according to the traffic volume of heavy-duty vehicles. It was conducted by Energiedenkfabrik ef.Ruhr on behalf of the National Centre for Charging Infrastructure. Commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Transport (BMDV), the National Centre for Charging Infrastructure coordinates and manages activities for the development of charging infrastructure in Germany, under the umbrella of federally-owned NOW GmbH.

The goal of the study is a structured preparation of important criteria and aspects that must be taken into account with respect to the grid when selecting, evaluating and planning charging hubs along the motorway network. Prototypical charging hubs at internationally significant transport axes were considered (arteries), as well as at locations with medium traffic and previously non-serviced rest areas with low demand. From forecasts about how many charging points with how much capacity will be needed in the years 2027, 2030 and 2035 at the three prototypical charging hubs, the authors of the study derive specific requirements for connection to the power grid.


High-voltage connections are needed in 2035 at the latest

The study makes it clear that a connection to the high-voltage grid is required in highly-frequented locations from 2035 at the latest. The study equally allows conclusions to be drawn about when connection to the medium-voltage grid will be adequate and what network requirements are to be taken into consideration in developing a nationwide charging infrastructure network for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. The study furthermore clearly states the huge potential of a charging management system.

For the timely provision of network connections, it is necessary to involve the network operators more in the network planning process and for finding locations for charging hubs. This was demonstrated through interviews with selected network operators that were carried out in the framework of the study.

Johannes Pallasch, Spokesperson of the Management Team of the National Centre for Charging Infrastructure: “The Centre’s new network connection study fixes our gaze firmly on the future. Before heavy-duty battery-electric trucks go into series production, the Centre is identifying potential challenges and developing solutions for a nationwide e-truck charging network. It is also the case for heavy-duty commercial vehicles, that the switch to electric mobility can only succeed with a reliable and demand-oriented charging infrastructure. The study makes it crystal clear why we must coordinate more intensively in thinking about and developing the charging infrastructure and electricity grid expansion. We have to think today about the charging station network connections of tomorrow.”

An online seminar will soon be held on the topic ‘Easy charging at service areas’, where the content of the study will be presented in more detail.


New overview of charging scenarios for heavy-duty commercial vehicles

The Centre has also developed a new overview illustrating the overall system of various charging scenarios for heavy-duty vehicles. Subdivided into public and non-public accessibility, the seven typical charging locations or scenarios for heavy-duty battery-electric commercial vehicles are represented in a now published map by the National Centre for Charging Infrastructure.

The following are included in the non-public space: companies’ own premises, third-party company premises and depots and mobile charging points. In the public space are: charging hubs in commercial areas, charging hubs at axes for night-charging and longer breaks as well as charging hubs at axes for interim charging and driving breaks. Charging at distribution points takes place both in public as well as non-public spaces.

Various technological requirements and user needs are derived from the scenarios that should be take into account for example, for future funding instruments. In all these scenarios, charging e-trucks in the future must be easily available and therefore, charging infrastructure must be built early on.


Implementation in the framework of the overall concept of climate-friendly commercial vehicles

By 2030, around a third of heavy-duty road freight transport should be electric or based on electrically-based fuels. Today road freight transport causes around a third of CO2 emissions in the transport sector. Furthermore, the range of heavy-duty commercial vehicles with alternative drives is still very small and the refuelling and charging infrastructure required is not yet established. With the overall concept of climate-friendly commercial vehicles, the BMDV is showing the way forward for achieving decarbonization of road freight transport. Both the study: ‘Easy charging at services areas’ as well as the overview: ‘Charging scenarios for heavy-duty commercial vehicles’ are part of this overall strategy.


Download study: ‘Easy charging at service areas: Design of the network connection for e-truck charging hubs’ (PDF, in German)

Download overview ‘Charging scenarios for heavy-duty commercial vehicles’ (JPG, in German)