Supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission, the “New Energy Transportation International Forum”, co-hosted by Shanghai Transportation Trade Association and Shine Consultant, was successfully held in Shanghai on 10th and 11th January 2017.
Mobility and transport are the backbone of a country’s society. From a global perspective, the entire transportation sector (passenger and freight transport) is responsible for nearly one quarter of all CO2 emissions. Even though countries such as Germany, for example, achieved significant efficiency improvements in the past (e. g. reduction in CO2 emissions per kilometer of passenger cars), the total greenhouse gas emissions within the sector have barely dropped due to an extensive rise in transport performance. This partially repeals the improvements already achieved in climate and environmental protection and shows that the absolute contribution to climate protection and the proportion of renewable energy use in the transport sector lag still behind opportunities and are still very low. In order to allow the international community to meet the climate targets set in the past years, the transport sector (besides the electricity sector) should be a crucial part in the future international debate on the energy transition. The decarbonisation of the transport sector is anticipated to act as a further central pillar for a country’s energy transition and will support the transformation process of the energy system towards more renewable energy sources.
It is well known that China is on the way becoming the largest economy of the world. Currently the most densely populated country worldwide is undergoing rapid urbanisation processes with all their benefits and drawbacks for the transport and energy situation. At the same time, electromobility concepts currently evolve into a very essential topic all over the world and rank high on political agendas. Today, China is already the largest electric vehicle market worldwide and has been putting great effort and huge investment in the technological advancement of all electromobility components. Against this background and due to climate, environmental and user friendliness as well as economic efficiency, electric vehicles could be a decisive element of a sustainable mobility strategy for China. However, electric cars are only able to save greenhouse gas emissions effectively if their batteries are charged using electricity from renewable energy sources. Hence, it is essential for China to develop comprehensive and integrated transport solutions that build upon both the transport and energy sector in order to cope with the consequences of the progressing urbanisation.
In order to take a step forward towards a strengthened discussion on the promotion of new energy vehicles (NEV) and related issues in China and to identify challenges and future opportunities for the electromobility industry, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supported the “New Energy Transportation International Forum” on 10th and 11th January 2017 in Shanghai. This forum, hosted by the Shanghai Transportation Trade Association and Shine Consultant, included international and local experts from governments, OEMs, public transportation operators, charging station manufacturers, car rental enterprises and high-tech solution companies who shared their experiences in the fields of regulations and policies, advanced technologies and operation and jointly considered new options for the integration of new vehicle concepts and services. The two-day conference focused on the four main topics of updates and trends of new energy vehicle policies, new energy vehicle application scenarios, vehicle technology and innovation as well as charging infrastructure layout.
Mr. Huai Zhou, Executive Vice President and Secretary General of Shanghai Transportation Trade Association, addressed his opening remarks to the participants of the forum. He pointed out that it is essential for the future development to understand the NEV market in China in detail and that communication and international networking within the industry will lead to a successful progression of China’s new energy vehicle sector.
In the course of the conference all speakers clearly pointed out that China is currently on the right track regarding the integration of NEV and that the development of new energy vehicles has to be further promoted. However, achievements towards a fundamental transition in the transport sector in China and globally are apart from technical prerequisites also linked to political issues, as therefore investments in all fields and components of the transport sector are needed. Currently, the development in the Chinese NEV market is highly policy-oriented, which is apparent from sales and registration numbers in China.
Contributions from representatives of various bus manufacturers and operators underlined that new energy busses are evidently on the rise in China at the moment. The market for these alternative concepts applicable in the public transportation sector not only continues to increase but is poised to experience an accelerating growth with the latest 13th five-year plan (2016-2020). This new development initiative is expected to boost the development of new energy vehicles and related peripheral components in China, especially the integration in the bus and public transportation sector. In Shanghai, for instance, nearly 2.400 charging opportunities for new energy busses should be available until 2017. A volume of around 5.000 charging stations envisaged until 2020 in Shanghai should ensure that all operated electric buses are able to charge their batteries. In the context of the integration of new energy busses for public transportation of which a reliable performance is required, the battery and its lifetime and fault-free operation is a critical component. Therefore, techniques such as predictive maintenance could help to determine the condition and potential failures of in-service equipment in order to predict maintenance needs (e. g. of batteries). As a result, cost savings could be achieved due to appropriate scheduling of maintenance. However, legal questions regarding the use of vehicle data are largely debated today in China and Germany and remain still unanswered.
Ongoing digitalization is another vital topic, which has to be taken into consideration when addressing the development of China’s new energy vehicle sector. Using electricity from renewable energy sources for charging electric vehicles, deploying new internet-based and cloud-based services in public transportation and the question how power generation could be made smarter were also part of the discussions during the “New Energy Transportation International Forum” in Shanghai. The Hangzhou Public Transport Group shared its experience in using AliPay or WeChat services for mobile payment in public buses to offer customized services, to reduce the cash usage and to collect information and data on the usage of public transportation vehicles. A representative from Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. emphasized that the renewable energy proportion on the overall electricity generation in China is still quite low. In order to make power generation smart and to create ways of interlinking it with the transport sector and the usage of new energy vehicles several steps have to be carried out in the future. These include, among other things, an increased involvement of sensors and data collection, an enhanced promotion of electricity-based development as well as the establishment of open energy trading markets.
Industrial representatives from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL), Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Co., Ltd., Shanghai Potevio Co., Ltd. and other manufacturers presented their corporate strategies and technological solutions regarding new energy vehicle and new energy bus development, battery and charging infrastructure roadmaps as well as the potential role of new energy vehicles in the overall energy system. In this regard, the growing availability of market-ready technologies like high-capacity traction batteries, fast charging stations and ultracapacitors is an important driver for advanced electric bus technology.
In order to harness the international expertise in the field of electromobility development, GIZ was invited as a representative from Germany to deliver a speech on the status quo and the future developments of Germany’s NEV market. Ms. Sandra Retzer, Head of Sustainable Urbanisation, Transportation and Energy of GIZ China, gave an overview of the latest trends of the electric vehicle development in Germany (market overview, incentive policy, research and development activities) and shared experiences and findings from Sino-German cooperation projects on electromobility and low carbon transport. Within these projects political dialogue mechanisms between Germany and China on all relevant transport issues are a key component to support the development of innovative transport solutions in China. Furthermore, Sandra Retzer underscored the role and importance of electric vehicles as an important building block for achieving greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
Summing up, this forum on new energy transportation outlined the current developments in China’s new energy vehicle market and demonstrated the potential positive effects of electric vehicles and new energy busses on emission reduction, energy consumption and air quality. In order to meet the climate protection goals in the future, the transition in the transport sector has to be connected with the ambitious goals set within the energy transition, in China and globally.