Electromobility “Electricity at charging stations can be very expensive”

Electromobility “Electricity at charging stations can be very expensive”

Electromobility

Achim Wambach has been President of the ZEW-Leibniz Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim since 2016 and a member of the Monopolies Commission since 2014.

Not yet. Serious competition problems can arise here to the detriment of consumers. Sure, and as quickly as possible. However, we have to be careful that the competition does not fall by the wayside when building the infrastructure. Public charging stations are not part of the power grid and are therefore unregulated. The operator of an e-filling station is currently not obliged to give other electricity providers access to its charging station. That means: The customer who wants to charge his e-car on the go is bound to a provider and its tariffs on site. In the absence of competition, electricity from charging stations can therefore become very expensive in the future.

Certainly not. But that is precisely why we should not build up market structures that would later fly around our ears and then make regulation necessary. The municipalities usually only grant one company permission to set up charging stations in public areas, and it is not uncommon for this to be their own public utility company. When all charging stations in a city belong to the same operator, there is no competition and it becomes expensive for the consumer. The Monopolies Commission pointed out this problem two years ago in a sector report.

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On the one hand, local parcelling, as practiced in the city of Essen, for example. Individual operators should not receive a special usage permit for setting up charging stations in plots that are directly next to each other. Second, permits for the operation of charging stations in public areas should not run for too long. There are major differences here within the cities. In Braunschweig, for example, it is 20 years, in Munich only three years. Thirdly, if the municipalities should not develop the competition accordingly, it would also be conceivable in a later market phase that customers, like at home, could also choose between different electricity providers at the charging station. However, that would be a strong regulatory intervention in the market. Politicians are likely to shy away from this in the current situation, where there are still too few charging stations.