Estonia, the former Soviet republic that's north of Latvia and across the Baltic Sea from Finland, has completed what it says is the world's largest network of fast-charging stations in an attempt to seriously boost plug-in vehicle adoption. The country is used to being an early adopter, earning the nickname e-stonia because of its love for high-speed Internet and electronic voting.
Estonia, through its Electromobility in Estonia program (ELMO), has completed installations of 165 fast-charging CHAdeMO stations across the country. In addition to including many city locations, the network, which is handled by a single operating entity, is spacing its stations 25-35 miles apart on the highways. ELMO says its stations can provide a 90-percent charge in about 30 minutes and cost between $3.50 to $7 a charge. If you spend a lot of time in your EV, there's also a $40-a-month unlimited charging option.
The country, which has about 1.3 million people, boasts about 600 EVs, or one per every 1,000 vehicles. Estonia says its trying to play catch-up with Norway, where EVs are about four times more prevalent. ELMO started its CHAdeMO station installations last summer. Read the ELMO press release below and check here for a map.
A fast-charging network makes Estonia the first country in the world where you can easily drive your EV around in towns or in the countryside without worrying about the driving range or pollution.
The network, consisting of 165 CHAdeMO-standard fast chargers, was officially opened for use today; a single operator is responsible for the administration of all stations and the clients can use the same payment solution and technical support across the country.
Each Estonian town, as well as bigger villages now have their own fast chargers; the stations installed along highways maintain a minimum distance of 40 to 60 km.
The EV users have three service packages to choose from, the cost of one charging is between 2.5 and 5 euros. However, you can also choose paying a 30 euro fee for a monthly package and charge your EV as often as you want with no extra cost. The car's battery can be charged up to 90% in less than 30 minutes and – depending on the model – you will be able to drive for up to 140 km. The installation of fast chargers started in summer 2012 and they have been used 8,300 times so far.
According to the head of the Estonia's EV programme, Mr Jarmo Tuisk, it was the lack of a proper fast charging infrastructure that hindered a more widespread use of electric vehicles until now.
"What makes the Estonian fast charging network unique is the fact that it uses a uniform payment solution and you can either use an authorisation card or your mobile phone for making the payment. We believe, that a nationwide grid of quick chargers encourages growth in the number of EV users, since the drivers no longer need to worry about a somewhat shorter driving range of their electric vehicles," said Jarmo Tuisk.
The EV fast-charging network is operated by a national Foundation KredEx, the chargers were produced and installed by a technology company ABB, the innovative payment solution was designed by NOW Innovations!, and customer support is provided by a security company G4S. Tallinn University of Technology adds a research dimension to the project by analysing the use of battery-powered cars and the charging network itself. That sets good preconditions for bringing electromobility R&D know-how together in Estonia.
The construction of the fast-charging network was financed by using the funds received pursuant to a CO2 emission quota sales agreement entered into between the Republic of Estonia and Mitsubishi Corporation.
Besides having a public fast-charging network, Estonia promotes a quicker deployment of EVs by providing direct support to both private persons and companies, with the amount reaching up to 18,000 euros of the all-electric car's purchasing price. Also, new EV owners can apply for a support of 1,000 euros for setting up a charging system at their home.
According to CHAdeMO, an organisation supporting the fast-charging standard, by January 2013 more than 1,900 fast chargers have been installed in the world, 521 of them outside Japan. Estonia with its 165 fast chargers now has the world's largest operational public fast-charging network providing a universal nationwide service.
There are 619 all-electric cars registered in the Estonian traffic register, whereas about 500 of these are used by several state authorities. Over a short time, Estonia has become the second country after Norway in the world in terms of the share of EVs. While there is one electric car registered per each 1,000 cars in Estonia, the respective figure for Norway is four. Estonia is followed by the Netherlands with 0.6 electric cars registered per 1,000 cars.
Please visit http://elmo.ee/charging-network/ to find additional information about the Estonia's EV programme and the locations of the fast chargers.