In the EU, more than 25% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the transport sector, making it a key target for decarbonisation in pursual of our carbon reduction goals. Urban areas are responsible for a large share of these transport emissions, where e-mobility represents a viable approach for decarbonisation. Whilst take-up is on the rise, a number of barriers remain. Policymakers and transport planners need to place low-carbon transport at the heart of the transport system and develop specific support structures for electric vehicles, such as incentives, infrastructure and advisory services.

The EMOBICITY (Increase of energy efficiency by Electric MOBIlity in the CITY) project has sought to improve the uptake of electric vehicles in its partner cities and regions by sharing knowledge and expertise to help them improve their regional, national or local policy framework. Under the leadership of the Centre of Renewable Energy Sources and Savings (CRES), in Greece, the partners have examined the barriers to e-mobility in their regions and explored good practices from across Europe that can help to overcome them, comparing their regions against the state-of-the-art and determining where they can improve.

The Greek NEEAP

In Greece, the uptake of e-mobility has been slow, with a low number of vehicles on the roads (estimated at 500 in 2019) and few public charging stations. E-mobility often faces the 'chicken and egg' problem – which comes first: the users, or the infrastructure – and without that loop being broken, the status quo remains, resulting in continued use of fossil fuel vehicles, continued CO2 emissions, and continued degradation of air quality.

To overcome this, since 2013, the Greek government has made efforts to promote e-vehicles and charging infrastructure, and included e-mobility for funding in its National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP), under the measure, 'introduction of electric vehicles and electric vehicle recharging points'. At the start of EMOBICITY, in 2019, e-vehicles received some tax exemptions, as well as benefits in cities with low-emissions zones, and subsides were available for charging infrastructure. However, there was no specialised legislative framework for the cost and price of electricity for charging e-vehicles, licencing remained complex for the public sector which inhibited public procurement, and there was a lack of private-sector initiatives to support further roll-out of infrastructure.

“In order to increase the uptake of e-mobility, our NEEAP needed to be amended and specialised with provisions and guidance, as well as new incentives for uptake of e-mobility,” explained CRES’ Maria Zarkadoula, lead partner of EMOBICITY. “For this reason, we decided to work in EMOBICITY, to exchange knowledge and spread knowledge gained to our key stakeholders.”

To do so, CRES established a stakeholder group in Greece, comprised of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO), with Greek regions and urban areas, to participate in the project, take part in site visits, and learn from exchanges.

New measures to support uptake of e-mobility

In September 2019, a workshop took place in Athens with the project partners and the Greek Stakeholder Group, including the Secretary General for Energy and Mineral Resources at the Ministry for the Environment and Energy. Maria Zarkadoula later participated in a National Inter-Ministerial Committee, leading a working group on e-mobility incentives. EMOBICITY also provided the national committee with its State-of-the-Art report, gathering information on the incentives, subsidies, e-mobility markets, grid management, charging network operation and e-mobility pricing.

This information formed the basis of the new Greek law of June 2020, on Promotion of E-mobility, introducing tax incentives for companies to acquire e-vehicles, regulate the e-vehicles market and charging services, and a subsidy scheme (Go Electric) for electric vehicle acquisition by companies and individuals.

Go Electric will provide 100 million EUR over 18 months (August 2020 – December 2021) to subsidise purchase of e-vehicles, including e-taxis, e-scooters and e-bicycles. In its first month, the scheme received 6,455 applications, already covering 12% of the total budget.

“EMOBICITY had a very important role in devising the Go Electric scheme”, explained Maria. “Our participation in the Inter-Ministerial Committee became the bridge between the project findings and the new scheme. Specifically, we transferred experience on economic and fiscal incentives, subsidy schemes and regulatory frameworks from partners in Romania and Portugal, as well as identifying good practices from the Netherlands and Poland via the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform.” In particular, the practices Rabla Plus (Romania), MOBI-E (Portugal), Chargers on Demand (Netherlands) and Electric Milanówek (Poland) were influential in the creation of Go Electric.

EMOBICITY has also enabled a change in Greek public procurement law, enabling public offices to purchase electric vehicles. The law, established in 1990, only referred to conventional fuel, meaning that tenders for e-vehicles were often rejected by auditing authorities. After identifying and raising this issue at a meeting with the stakeholder group, CRES recommended a change that would enable green public procurement, stimulating the e-mobility market. The law was adapted in March 2020 to include a clear reference to alternative fuel vehicles and e-vehicles, to present this issue in future.

For more information on EMOBICITY, visit the project website.