EU funds go begging as Greece remains indifferent to electromobility

According to data from the European Environment Agency, 18,000 premature deaths in Greece are attributed to poor air quality while at the same time electromobility is considered a “luxury for the few". [Frank Hebbert/Flickr]

Greece’s indifference to absorbing EU funding combined with unfair tax treatment has left it lagging behind in green transport, industry representatives told EURACTIV Greece.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Greek Institute of Electric Vehicles (EL.IN.I.O.) yesterday (April 9), industry representatives appeared pessimistic about the future of electromobility in Greece.

In Europe, transport is responsible for one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. And while industrial emissions in Europe have fallen by 38% since 1990, those in the transport sector – including air transport – have increased by 9%.

While electromobility is gaining ground worldwide, Greece’s transport network depends on fossil fuels at a rate of almost 98% (the highest in the EU).

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that greenhouse gas emissions from transport will increase by 120% over the period 2000-2050. Automakers have set a global target to produce 100 million electric cars and 400 million motorcycles and scooters by 2030.

In 2016, there was an increase of electric vehicle sales worldwide, 30% more than in 2015.

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European electromobility is beginning to take off. The targets set by the Paris climate deal depend on it. The EU’s Nordic neighbour, Norway, is showing the rest of Europe the way forward. EURACTIV’s partner The Guardian reports.

The main reason for the soaring sales of electric vehicles is the reduction of the price of lithium ion batteries, which represent about 40% of the cost of an electric or hybrid vehicle, and have fallen by two-thirds compared to 2010.

Six years ago, a battery used to cost more than $1,000 per kilowatt. Now it costs less than $350 and it could go drop to $125 in the near future, experts claim.

The Greek case

The non-application of the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure directive, which refers to electric vehicles and calls for a National Action Plan for electromobility, unfair tax treatment and the state’s indifference to absorbing EU funding, were highlighted by industry representatives as the main causes for the problematic situation in Greece.

“Electromobility is definitely the future not only in Greece but worldwide. The question for Greece is how quickly it will benefit from it,” Dimitris Micharikopoulos, director of FORTISIS, a company which specialises in designing and providing sustainable urban electromobility solutions, told euractiv.gr.

According to data from the European Environment Agency, 18,000 premature deaths a year in Greece are attributed to poor air quality while at the same time electromobility is considered a “luxury for the few”, BMW’s sales manager, Anthony Adanalis, claimed.

Attica region makes the difference

But things seem to be changing, at least in the region of Attica, which has designed its own electromobility action plan aimed at creating 120 charging stations in selected locations.

“By 2018, we believe that we will have the first electric charging stations […] they should be the future ATMs and charge electric vehicles regardless of providers while at the same time we must ensure their viability,” George Karameros, deputy head of the region said.

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In addition, EU funding results are rather disappointing. Micharikopoulos noted that “the majority of EU member states have benefited from the Connecting Europe Facility to finance infrastructure for electromobility, while Greece is among the 2-3 countries which have not benefited at all.”

At a local level, few municipalities have taken similar initiatives. “A few municipalities have begun to participate in EU programmes that include electromobility but the steps are very small even if we compare this with our neighboring countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania,” he added.

EV charging infrastructure

Europe’s charging infrastructure has been increasing every year by between 30% and 60% since 2013. The continent has more than 100,000 charging points, all but a few thousand of them “slow chargers”, which take as long as eight hours to juice up a battery.

The EU appears to have a fresh appetite to get behind the push for more charging points by stipulating that as of 2019, every newly built or refurbished house from Cyprus to Lapland will have to have an EV charging station.

“It may seem now a luxury to invest in electromobility but due to the fact that the world is changing at high speed, we cannot be left behind,” Karameros warned.

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