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Into the future of mobility with Alpiq

Electric mobility has become a decisive factor in the decarbonisation of road transport. It is not only changing the mobility behaviour of individuals, but also the entire infrastructure. What is needed now are new mobility solutions and digital concepts, but also alternative fuels such as hydrogen. As an e-mobility pioneer and Swiss market leader, Alpiq offers integrated mobility solutions for a wide range of user behaviours.

Alpiq has been active in the field of electric mobility solutions on the Swiss market since 2012 and is steadily expanding its services in Germany, Austria and Italy. As a first mover on the market for zero-emission mobility and a leading partner for charging infrastructures, we orchestrate the entire process from consulting and planning to the installation, operation and maintenance of the charging infrastructure. Based on our strategic consulting services, we develop customised solutions for our customers’ specific mobility strategies.

We are breaking completely new ground to ensure the success of the mobility transformation – for example with our full-service electric mobility subscription Juicar developed by our Oyster Lab think tank. The subscription model offers users all the advantages of owning a car and covers everything from road tax and insurance right through to maintenance. This makes it incredibly simple for our customers to take the first step into e-mobility!

Battery electric mobility and hydrogen mobility

Alpiq supports the transport revolution with a customised, needs-based approach. This is why we are committed not only to battery electric mobility, but also to hydrogen mobility. In early 2020, we will start producing climate-friendly, carbon-neutral hydrogen using Swiss hydropower under the umbrella of Hydrospider AG, our joint venture with H2 Energy and Linde. For this purpose, we will use the electricity generated by our Gösgen run-of-river power plant and ensure efficient production by optimally balancing the interplay between the production of hydrogen and electricity at the power plant.

Thanks to our many years of experience in the field of e-mobility, our energy management expertise and the hydropower that is an integral part of our DNA, we are making a comprehensive contribution towards the decarbonisation of road transport. So, now is the right time to talk to our specialists about the current status of our fields of activity.

Kai Generlich, E-mobility Germany

Kai Generlich, Head of E-Mobility Germany, about the current state of electric mobility in Germany

What measures are required to ensure that the mobility revolution continues in Germany?

As soon as manufacturers start supplying higher volumes and a wider range of models, it is vital for there to be adequate charging facilities available everywhere – and I mean everywhere. Charging must no longer be an obstacle.

First of all, it must become much easier to install charging facilities on private premises. The current tenancy and property laws make installing privately-owned charging facilities in garages and parking spaces very complicated. Tenants, but also owners of individual parking spaces, always need the consent of all the other co-owners of the property. This is time-consuming and outmoded.

We also need to invest much more in the public charging infrastructure – especially in residential areas. Many car owners do not have their own parking space. But it must also be possible for these people to charge their cars.

In all these points, I see a substantial need for Germany to catch up.

You mentioned the challenges faced by both private and public charging. What do you view as the most significant current problem relating to charging while on the road?

There must be considerably more charging options so that what has been termed “range anxiety” – the fear of not being able to reach the destination with the available charge – can be overcome.

For the future, it will thus also be important that there are a sufficient number of charging outlets at every charging station. Otherwise “range anxiety” will turn into “queuing anxiety”. This means that drivers are concerned about long waiting times at the next charging station.

What solutions does Alpiq have in store to overcome the current hurdles and facilitate access to e-mobility?

What makes Alpiq so special: We have a solution for absolutely every requirement and we have been able to gain immense experience over the past eight years. What sets us apart is our deep understanding of load management and energy management combined with our hands-on approach when it comes to installation and maintenance. In particular for larger projects and companies, we have developed our own process tool in-house in order to coordinate all the steps and all the partners involved – from planning right through to operation. This significantly reduces the time required for projects.

Obviously, the main beneficiary is the user, in other words the driver of the electric car. They benefit from perfectly installed and maintained charging facilities. However, our actual customers are car manufacturers for whose customers, the car buyers, we install private wall charging stations; companies simultaneously planning larger facilities with several charging stations on their premises; or operators of rapid charging stations. They all benefit from our professional handling of the installation process and our experience in building complex, large-scale systems.

Bastian Gerhard, Juicar

Bastian Gerhard, Managing Director of Oyster Lab, about Juicar – the electric car on subscription

What makes Juicar so special and innovative?

It is Europe’s first full-service e-mobility package and has already been available in Switzerland for one and a half years. The subscription includes an electric car, the corresponding home charging station, the fees for public charging, motor vehicle road tax, insurance and the settlement of electricity costs. Everything from a single source. In this way, we want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to gain access to the world of electric mobility and revolutionise the concept of car ownership.

Who are the main customers of Juicar?

As it turns out, our principal customers are young families who own a house in suburban areas and who have virtually identical mobility needs. They usually own two vehicles: a large family car for longer distances and holidays, and a small car for everyday local errands. For an electric car to be able to replace one of the two vehicles, the following factors are particularly important: the range, the price per kilometre on the road, the type of vehicle and the financing of the purchase.

But Juicar also closes the gap between short-term rentals and leasing. Customers can use the car for more than just a few days, but they do not have to sign a long-term contract. The subscription can be terminated on a monthly basis.

What challenges are you currently facing?

When it comes to electric cars, the automotive industry still has a very limited portfolio of products and a severe production bottleneck. However, our partners have agreed to give us preferential treatment to enable us to quickly penetrate the markets. After all, we want to seize our first mover advantage and be the first supplier of such a solution in as many European countries as possible. With the official market launch in Germany, we have already achieved a major milestone. However, our vision is to make Juicar a European product. Our biggest challenges are to open up new markets and, together with our partners, to scale up our operations. There are also opportunities to further develop Juicar, for example for business customers.

Stefan Linder, Hydrogen

Stefan Linder, Head of Innovation & Technology Renewable Energy Sources, about the role of hydrogen production for zero-emission mobility

What role will hydrogen play in the transport revolution?

In order to combat climate change, there is an urgent need for alternative energy carriers that can be produced and used in a carbon-neutral manner. Hydrogen is an optimal alternative to fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel. It contributes towards the decarbonisation of the industrial sector and, in conjunction with battery electric mobility, towards the decarbonisation of the transport sector. Green hydrogen means that it is produced using carbon-free, renewable energies, such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power. In my view, hydrogen is key to a meaningful and effective transition from fossil fuels to zero-emission mobility, in particular for heavy-goods transport, where battery electric mobility entails disadvantages that are difficult to overcome.

In addition to the decarbonisation of heavy-goods transport, all those applications are of interest for hydrogen in which a conversion from fossil fuels to electricity is either technically, economically or politically problematic. For example, for railway lines that have not been electrified, which are still widespread in many regions of Germany. Furthermore, the industrial sector still consumes a great deal of hydrogen that is produced using coal and gas. This hydrogen will also have to be converted to sustainable sources at an appropriate time in the future.

One source of criticism is the high energy consumption associated with the production of hydrogen. Why – in spite of this – does Alpiq view this energy carrier as an environmentally friendly alternative to the combustion engine?

Energy efficiency is indeed a downside of hydrogen, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, the question is which technology can achieve the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for any given application. The advantage of hydrogen is that its production can be perfectly adapted to the supply of highly fluctuating renewable energy. The fact that hydrogen can also be stored in large quantities makes it the key to a virtually unlimited expansion of renewable energies such as wind and solar power, without the risk of having to shut down renewable electricity systems or even having to effectively waste electricity for applications that make little sense.

Incidentally, by exploiting economies of scale and consistently expanding the distribution infrastructure, the costs of a hydrogen-based economy could be brought down to the level of mineral oil. This means that the decarbonisation does not necessarily have to be a burden on the economy. On the contrary, since in comparison with oil, a larger proportion of production is local, hydrogen can even increase the GDP, i.e. create economic value.

How important are energy suppliers such as Alpiq for a future characterised by e-mobility?

The electric mobility of the future requires the know-how of car manufacturers and energy companies alike. We are a part of this revolution and are actively shaping it: whether as a producer of renewable electricity from wind, solar and hydroelectric power, of climate-neutral hydrogen, as a developer of digital mobility services such as Juicar, or as a full-service partner for charging infrastructures. Let us keep in mind: Electricity is essentially the new oil, and thus THE key source of energy. This is why I am confident that Alpiq will continue to play an important role in tomorrow’s energy world.

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