The transport sector is one of the main sources of CO2 emissions in the EU. Passenger-car use accounts for about half of the overall CO2 emissions generated by the transport sector, representing 12% of the total CO2 emissions in the EU and 13% in Spain. The number of cars on EU roads has tripled in the past 30 years, increasing at a rate of around three million vehicles per year. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and their impact on climate change is one of the greatest policy priorities of the European Union. In 2000, average CO2 emissions for passenger cars amounted to 186 g CO2/km. The EU objective was to limit them to 130 g CO2/km by 2012.
The main objective of the CONNECT project was to promote the progressive deployment of electric vehicles as an alternative means of urban mobility. The innovative project aimed to establish a pilot network of five ‘zero-emission recharge points’ (ZERP) for electric vehicles. These points would be fully fuelled by renewable energy and thus provide a 75% more favourable ‘global ecological balance’ than recharging from the mains supply. To further incentivise the use of the system, the project intended to provide 50 electric vehicles to staff of targeted organisations and offer free or subsidised recharging. The project thus hoped to contribute to overcoming some of the technical, economic, and practical barriers to using this ‘clean transport’ alternative for medium-distance journeys in urban areas. The project aimed to demonstrate approaches to cost-efficient emissions reductions by validating the recharging point system, setting a benchmark for the transition to electric vehicles and establishing an EU network of enterprises and institutions committed to this technology.
Five zero-emission, solar-powered charging stations with a total of 12 charging terminals were set up and tested at easily accessible and well-frequented locations in Logroño (approx. 150 000 inhabitants) and Zaragoza (approx. 650 000 inhabitants). All five of the solar-powered charging stations, designed for easy operation and with well-prepared instruction manuals displayed at the terminals, were fitted with photovoltaic systems (PV systems) in order to use the on-site solar energy to produce electricity. A total of 342 solar panels that directly convert solar energy into electricity were installed and connected in systems of 5-40 kWp (kilowatt-peak). The solar panels took up a total (roof) area of 479 m2. During the test phase between February 2012 and December 2013, the installed PV systems produced a total of 136 563 kWh of electricity and, just by using the PV systems, avoided 109 t of CO2 emissions. This saving, which is the equivalent of the average annual electricity consumption of 40 Spanish households, takes into account the substitution of electricity from traditional systems by CO2-neutral solar electricity. If the reduction of fossil fuels used (petrol, diesel etc.) is also taken into consideration, just over 161 t of CO2 emissions (105 t/year) were avoided in the test phase. Assuming that a PV system has a 20-year lifespan, 2 100 t of CO2 could be saved by using the five solar-powered charging stations during this time. The solar-powered charging stations could be used free of charge by the inhabitants of Logroño, Zaragoza and the surrounding area. Owners of electric vehicles were informed personally by post and via the press, and invited to participate. Over 50 electric vehicles, including 18 cars, 17 motorbikes, two disability scooters, three industrial lift vehicles (e.g. forklifts), three industrial sweepers, and other private vehicles ultimately took part in the test phase. 2 695 charging cycles for electric vehicles were carried out, including 1 662 charging cycles for cars, 455 for scooters, and 578 for industrial lift vehicles. The average charging times were 4.75 hours per car, 3.83 hours per scooter, and 6.03 hours per industrial vehicle.
These actions successfully demonstrated:
- The technological maturity of the electric recharging devices installed and their availability in the market;
- The scalability of the ‘zero-emissions recharge point’ (ZERP) model, proved by the performances achieved in each of the demonstrative actions carried out in different configurations;
- The versatility and adaptability of the ZERP model, proved in each of the different recharge categories tested (tourism vehicles,mixed service tourism vehicles and mopeds, mixed service tourism, mopeds and small industrial vehicles, and industrial loading vehicles);
- The significant environmental improvement of ZERP compared to standard charging points in terms of greater CO2 reductions thanks to the use of renewable energies. In a scenario with intensive use of the ZERP (100% of renewable energy produced is used for vehicle/battery charging), the improvement level varied depending on type of vehicle: - cars: 37% of environmental improvement; - scooters: 21% of environmental improvement; - industrial vehicles: 12% of environmental improvement; - small industrial vehicles: 62% of environmental improvement.
One of the project actions was the development of a network of organisations. This network offers companies and private and public organisations the opportunity to engage in an intensive virtual exchange of information and experiences about the subjects such as renewable energy, e-mobility, environmental management systems (EMAS), and sustainability concepts (CSR). By early 2014, more than 60 organisations had already joined the network.
The CONNECT project established an innovative approach, involving market actors and enterprises as reinforcement and complementing other incentives that have been established to promote electric vehicles (registration tax, traffic tax, incentives for purchasing less pollutant vehicles, etc.).
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see Read more section).