The Electric City
Amsterdam is one of the world’s leading cities in the field of electric transport. This was once more confirmed in June 2016 at the World Electric vehicle Symposium in Montreal, where the Amsterdam city council received the E-visionary award for the second time. Motivating the decision to award the prize to Amsterdam, the jury of the World Electric Vehicle Association said: “Amsterdam has a long and solid track record of promoting the use of electric vehicles in the city, putting an effective charging infrastructure in place and promoting in general the transition to electromobility. The targets and the ambitious timing sets for zero emission taxis, busses, small delivery vehicles, light vehicles and boats are world leading and an example to all cities.”
With an exceptionally innovative climate pervading the city – Amsterdam was also voted Europe’s innovation capital of 2016. Amsterdam has developed into a true Living Lab for research institutes, innovative businesses and start-ups in the field of electric transport. Researchers and adventurous entrepreneurs are developing creative technological solutions for fast charging, smart parking, data use and temporary battery storage for solar energy. For cars, but also for mopeds, cabs, delivery vans and lorries.
Electric mobility is here
Together with its partners, the city has taken strong action to promote electric transport as well as ban polluting vehicles. The target is to become a zero emissions city by 2025, with opportunities for everyone to adopt electric transport.
A large part, sometimes up to 50%, of air pollution in Amsterdam is caused by motorized traffic. This means the transition to electric transport provides a significant means to improve the city’s air quality. With freight, public and private transport concentrated in a relatively small area, the city is an ideal place for the introduction of electric mobility. Moreover, local Amsterdam residents
and businesses are renowned for being enterprising and creative early adopters. Amsterdam has decided to make electric mobility the norm.
In order to encourage the use of electric transport, the city council gives preference to working with companies which operate an electric fleet. This means companies will be able to benefit from operating electric vehicles in Amsterdam. All city council relocations and paper supplies for instance are carried out using electric vehicles. By 2025, the city’s own fleet will need to be fully emissions-free. Already, where possible, all new personal and delivery vehicles bought by the council need to be electric. For larger vehicles, the council will always choose the most environmentally friendly option available.
Public network of EV charging points
In the city, it’s crucial to have an effective charge point infrastructure for electric vehicles. As more than 90% of Amsterdam people do not have their own parking space, the council has to take its responsibility.
In 2009, Amsterdam introduced its first public charging points. At the time, there was only little demand from electric drivers. Rather, the idea behind the initiative was to provide charging points in order to raise confidence in electric driving and increase demand. With the experience and insights gained from a first test with one hundred charging points, the city went on to tender one thousand new charging points in 2011. Amsterdam now has the highest density of charging stations in the world: in 2016, the city passed the milestone of 2.000 public charging stations.
Amsterdam’s extensive public network of EV charging points is the backbone for the city’s ambitions in electric transport, with high visibility throughout the city and providing guaranteed charging facilities to electric drivers. In addition, the charging points offer great opportunities to achieve other sustainability targets, including (temporary) storage and use of sustainable energy. In this way, electric transport also contributes to the city’s overall energy transition.
The Clean Taxis for Amsterdam Covenant
There are around 4,000 taxis in Amsterdam, covering many miles and almost exclusively
running on diesel. This means that on average they emit 35 times more hazardous emissions
than an average petrol passenger car. At the same time, the size of the city is ideal for electric driving. Therefore, the council and Amsterdam’s taxi
companies have agreed that all taxis will be fully emission free by 2025. The Clean Taxis for Amsterdam Covenant has been signed by all licensed taxi companies in Amsterdam. This covenant includes a combination of benefits and measures which makes it attractive to purchase clean taxis and discourages the use of polluting taxis.
From 2018, the most polluting taxis will be banned from the city by introducing a taxi environmental zone. Drivers and companies are supported with subsidies to purchase electric cars. Initially, electric cars will have priority status at the Central Station taxi rank. From 2018, only clean taxis will be allowed at this rank. As electric taxis cover many miles, they need to be able to
charge quickly and frequently. This is why while queuing at the Central
Station rank, and at other strategic locations in the city, taxis can use the available fast charging points.
Using data as a guide
Amsterdam’s public charging infrastructure is without compare. The collaboration between
the city and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) has greatly contributed
to this success. The AUAS researchers formulate their research questions in consultation with the city council. The answers to these questions are used to set up user profiles and conduct simulations. The city also encourages the researchers to analyze the data and report anything that strikes them as interesting, coming up with answers to questions the policy makers might not even realize they had.
The next step is to research if and how charging behavior can be influenced. The data shows,
for instance, that on average users are connected for much longer than their actual charging times. This means there is room for improvement in the efficient use of charging points. Further analysis of the use of different types of chargers can help design an optimal roll-out
strategy for the future.
Not only will this information contribute to a cost efficient expansion of the charging infrastructure, it will also give more insight into the role the electric car can play in the city’s overall energy transition. This is because an electric vehicle is not only a mode of transport, but also a large travelling battery which can be used as buffer storage for sustainably generated (wind or solar) energy.
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