Will cure range anxiety in Sørlandet

Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn (V) stopped in Kristiansand to promise better charging conditions in Sørlandet for electric drivers.

Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn (V) with first candidate in Agder Venstre, Ingvild Thorsvik. Photo: Anders Mjaaland

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KRISTIANSAND: – We do not want people to buy new fossil cars, because they will quickly remain in traffic for 20 years. Therefore, good charging conditions are absolutely essential when people buy a new car, says Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn.

He has stopped by the fast charging station at the railway station in Kristiansand to promise better charging conditions for southerners.

Electric cars make up 65 per cent of new car sales in Norway. Kristiansand is a good distance behind with a little over 50 percent, and that worries both Rotevatn and his party colleagues.

– As an electric car driver, I also notice it here in the area, says the first candidate in Agder Venstre, Ingvild Thorsvik, who is with the minister on the visit to the south.

– In line with the rest of the country, we will reach the zero emission target set by 2025, and then people should have good opportunities to switch to electric cars, she says.

Lack of charging options

In a report from NAF this summer, it appears that it is greatest shortage of fast chargers on the E18 section between Kristiansand and Oslo.

In Agder, there are a total of 276 fast and lightning chargers. 35 percent of these are Tesla chargers.

There are a total of 20,500 electric cars in the county, according to the Norwegian Electric Car Association.

– A challenge for Sørlandet is that for several months of the year it is the “o ‘major holiday destination” in Norway, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Electric Car Association, Christina Bu.

– Last year, a survey showed that, for example, Brokelandsheia was in second place above the charging stations where there was the most queue. Now I know that it has been fixed, but it is a problem in several places, she adds.

This year’s survey is being sent out these days.

Bu believes the government has been too lax in directing the infrastructure around charging stations.

She is tired of the government constantly referring to the state-owned enterprise Enova, which is financed through funds from the Energy Fund. They are behind several developments of charging stations in northern Norway recently.

– It is not enough to just point to Enova. We must be able to plan society comprehensively, so that there is no charging chaos from our own electric car success.

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Secretary General of the Norwegian Electric Car Association, Christina Bu. Photo: Erik M Sundt

Sacrifice for your own success

There are now over 400,000 electric cars on Norwegian roads, and Rotevatn agrees that in many ways they have fallen victim to their own success when it comes to the infrastructure around charging.

– There are probably a number of infrastructure builders who have not kept up completely and anticipated how fast the increase would be, says Rotevatn.

– Who is responsible then?

– In the policy around electric car charging, we are mostly based on commercial development, but we have also implemented policy on what has been necessary, he says and refers to, among other things, the projects in northern Norway.

The Norwegian Electric Car Association proposes closer cooperation with, among others, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and wants a clear charging strategy going forward.

They think it is urgent, as “electric cars” overturn “on Norwegian roads.

– The government is now working on a strategy for charging – at the right pace at the right time. Then we will see what rules we will have to twist. So far, we have achieved through, for example, that all new buildings must be ready for charging, all major renovations of buildings must facilitate charging and everyone who lives in housing associations must have the opportunity to charge, Rotevatn explains and adds:

– The electric car association should be most concerned that the overall opposition is in favor of tightening the electric car benefits. If they win the election, it will be more expensive to buy an electric car. Had I been an electric driver, I would have been worried about it.

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The Liberal Party’s Ingvild Thorsvik took party colleague and Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn to the charging station at the Railway Station in Kristiansand to address the charging problem in the region. Photo: Anders Mjaaland

The Minister of Climate and the Environment says that together with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration they are working on a rest area strategy along Norwegian roads.

There, it will be natural to look at electric car charging as part of the process.

But right now, there are several places where Rotevatn thinks the charging possibilities are not enough.

He says charging must be included in planning processes early, as it is terribly expensive to lay new power cables to places where it is not available.

– It is not just about setting up charging stations everywhere, as you are dependent on good power infrastructure, Rotevatn concludes.

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