The Growth of EV Charging Network

News | Interview

Photo: Private archive of Dragan Buaca

According to the data coming from public and private companies, the number of delivered and installed chargers for electric vehicles is on the rise in Serbia. If this upward trend in the field of electric mobility continues, our country will be making gradual progress as to match other European countries which have come a long way in the expansion of EV chargers network and the number of electric vehicles on the roads.

Among renowned charger producers, and their solutions which digitally contain connecting and monitoring of EV chargers network, the Schneider Electric company stands out. This company creates interconnected technologies and solutions for energy and process management in a safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable manner, and the solutions in electromobility are precisely the field where Schneider Electric has a lot to offer.

In Serbia, this company has been working since 1997. As a part of their extensive portfolio of products and services, the chargers are an important segment of electromobility development at our market. We asked Dragan Buaca, the sales manager for commercial and industrial facilities at the Schneider Electric Srbija company, about the number of EVlink chargers installed at parking lots and streets throughout Europe and Serbia.

EP: Can you draw a parallel between the share at the market in France, and in Europe generally, and the one you have in the Balkans and Serbia?

Dragan Buaca: France is one of the most developed European countries in this field. The fact that organizations in France, such as Postal service, taxi and courier companies, public transport and other utility companies which owes vehicle fleet, recognized the advantages of electric cars. Studies show that transition to electric vehicles provides an opportunity for operational costs and maintenance reduction for up to 50 per cent.

Encouraged by this, owners of electric cars installed chargers for their use in private garages, whereas the city administration units put chargers at public space and commercial parking lots. The whole systems for electric car rental were established in the bigger cities. Today in Europe there are 100,000 EV charging stations. As much as 73 per cent of that sum is concentrated in four EU countries alone: Netherlands, Germany, France and Great Britain.

When it comes to the global electric car sale, the record-breaking year was 2016, and it has been projected that by 2025 every sixth car sold in the world will be those electrically powered. According to estimates, this will propel the number of EV chargers in Europe to reach 2 million by that time. As for Serbia and Montenegro, around 100 of EV chargers were hitherto installed.

EP: Talking about chargers exploitation, could we implement some European experiences to the increase of the chargers network in Serbia?

Dragan Buaca: The expansion of electric cars sale in Europe entails the need for chargers installation. Norway serves as the best example of how strong that need is. In that country, electrically powered cars took a share of 30 per cent of all vehicles sold in 2018. There is a plan in Norway to completely phase out the sale of vehicles with an internal combustion engine by 2025 so that air pollution and CO2 emissions could be reduced as much as possible.

As for our country, that time is certainly coming. Encompassing innovative solution developed by Schneider Electric for optimization and chargers’ network management is called EcoStruxure, and it is one of the solving that we may expect to be applied soon in our region.

EP: How much did local companies embrace the potential in electromobility development?

Dragan Buaca: For the past couple of years, it is evident that an increasing number of companies have demonstrated an interest in charger installation. Public sector companies as much as privately owned enterprises install chargers to an expanding extent at their parking lots and garages.

EP: What companies specify as the principal motive for e-mobility implementation in their business?

Dragan Buaca: By and large, the motives are ecological awareness and need for environmental protection. On the other hand, investors want their clients who drive electric cars to enjoy fully in the comfort and amenity of recharging their vehicles while spending time at the investor’s facility.

EP: How to raise awareness on using new technologies, including electromobility, which is also one of the means for the GCG emission reduction?

Dragan Buaca: Our team is in contact with the clients on a daily basis. We are trying as much as we can to advocate a need for electric car use through seminars, conferences, presentation etc. Also, publishing texts like this one in specialized magazines and portals is a powerful way to raise awareness on the necessity of environmental protection, thus on the use of electric vehicles. Undoubtedly, the need
for optimized electricity consumption and challenges of producing green energy, which is attained by installing solar panels in combination with chargers, are some of the crucial reasons for investors to adopt an ecologically responsible attitude.

Photo: Energetski portal/Zana Sisic

EP: Apart from three chargers already installed, within the following phase, it was planned to install more chargers at the ZF company’s parking lot in Pancevo. How satisfied are you with cooperation and how do you expect this to impact other companies?

Dragan Buaca: In the second half of 2019, the ZF factory was extended and built up, and six new chargers were delivered and installed at the company’s parking lots. We are ever so satisfied and proud of this cooperation, both with the investor and the MT-KOMEX company, which is our service partner for EV charger integration. A particularly interesting solution is a canopy, built above the parking places, with solar panels for supplying EV chargers so that energy used for charging electric vehicles at his parking lot is 100 per cent green.

Sure enough, the ZF company as one of the global leaders in the field of solutions for the mobility of the future serves as a great example to other companies when it comes to raising environmental awareness and promotion of the need for electric car use and chargers installation in Serbia.

Interview by: Tamara Zjacic

This interview was published in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine  GRINNOVATIONS, December 2019 – February 2020.