Saving Carbon, Creating Space: Could Kerbside Charging Transform Your City?

Guilherme Faria
Business Developement Manager - Schréder Hyperion

Whether they drive something sporty or sensible, many car owners are switching to electric vehicles (EV) or hybrid cars. Electric cars are getting cheaper, petrol prices are spiking and air quality is a major consideration for city dwellers worldwide. The shift to zero emissions vehicles is potentially the biggest change in personal transport since the invention of the combustion engine.  

Many cities, including Amsterdam, Paris and London will ban fossil fuelled cars by the end of the decade. Several countries are planning to stop the sale of new petrol or diesel cars around this time, as well. And 63% of city dwellers support banning the sale of new petrol cars after 2030, according to a leading Brussels campaign group. As more and more people choose to drive electric cars, for their lungs, for their wallet and for the planet, infrastructure needs to reflect how we live now. 

To make these vital changes happen and get clean, breathable air in cities, people need to be able to charge vehicles reliably, safely and conveniently. But installing new points can mean digging up the road, cluttering pedestrian paths and major disruption. So… what about street lights? They’re already there, connected to the grid, and right on the road. Smart cities are already embracing smart charging. 

Fast Charging, Big Changes

The SHUFFLE lighting pole is a great solution for cities that want to enable electric driving. As well as providing impeccable lighting, the pole can be fitted with units such as loudspeakers, CCTV cameras, environmental sensors, WiFi access points or EV chargers. Here, as ever, we are dedicated to open systems that work for real cities. The SHUFFLE can be fitted with Schréder’s own charging system integrated in the pole (either an AC 11kW version or a 22kW one, which can charge a car up to 80% in less than two hours) or adapted to integrate other external EV chargers required by the customers. 

Putting the EV charger in a SHUFFLE means zero extra furniture on footpaths, a sense of safety and security, especially in the darker months, and an integrated light ring so that people can easily see from a distance if the charger is available or not. It’s also possible to connect to online payment systems via open protocols like OCPP, meaning users can use contactless to pay as they charge. It’s a natural choice for cities wanting to cement their smart credentials. 

Portugal’s Oeiras Valley is often compared to Silicon Valley. Home to innovative multi-national and homegrown companies, it offers a great quality of life, right next to the sea. With sustainability at the forefront of planners’ thinking, they have focused on mixed transport methods, encouraging bike use, and zero emission vehicles. They installed 59 charging points throughout the region, giving the city the most comprehensive and modern electric vehicle charging network in the country - and showing the community that they could make the switch to hybrid driving.

SHUFFLE light columns can be fitted with EV chargers and other features to provide more ecological infrastructure to towns and cities

The council wanted to do that in an intelligent way, without cluttering pavements and by using infrastructure already connected to the grid. It opted to install 17 of the charging points in SHUFFLE poles equipped with light, WiFi and CCTV. The system is controlled by Schréder EXEDRA, so lighting can be dimmed at night when the spaces are not being used or adapted in real-time when events are taking place. It also captures usage data, so the city can understand demand patterns. Getting insights into how people use the EV chargers will be critical in shaping the future infrastructure development.

Is There a Charger Near Here?

With electric vehicles playing a more significant role in securing a greener future on the roads, cities need to invest in EV charging facilities. But where do users charge them? Many countries offer subsidies for people who want to install a charging point at home as part of going electric. That’s fine for local journeys and commuting. But as soon as EV owners venture further afield - or want to visit a new city - they find themselves asking “where will I charge?”

So-called “Charge anxiety” is real: analysis by the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that as more electric vehicles are sold, the ratio of vehicle charge points to plug-in cars is deteriorating. The research shows that in the UK, at the end of 2019, 11 plug-in vehicles potentially shared a standard public charge point, but by the end of 2020, the ratio had fallen to one charger for every 16 plug-ins. 

A whole app ecosystem has grown as developers create ways for people to find their nearest charging point, with EV owners seeking out convenient charging points before they set off. It’s as much a part of planning as booking accommodation or remembering your passport. Cities worldwide face the issue of having enough chargers if they want to switch commuters to electric vehicles and attract visitors who arrive by road.

Ready for Tomorrow 

Germany’s Bundesgartenschau, usually shortened to BUGA, started in 1951 as an opportunity to showcase bold new ideas in park and urban planning to reinvigorate cities. Ever since, it has served as a driver for towns and cities to revitalise areas and leave a lasting legacy. In 2019, Heilbronn took up the challenge with the motto ‘Blooming Life,’ drawing 2.3 million visitors to projects including the transformation of the Neckarbogen area into a “district of the future.”  

Heilbronn installed SHUFFLE columns with smart lighting and EV chargers to encourage more sustainable mobility

As such, the city wanted innovative, sustainable and futureproof technology that would deliver what people want and need, today and in years to come. They installed almost 300 SHUFFLEs to deliver a smart lighting system that adapts to real needs and protects the local plants and animals. With this focus on sustainable technology, the city also wants to encourage citizens to use electric cars. Some of the SHUFFLE poles have also been fitted with chargers and integrated into local payment systems to facilitate the adoption of zero emissions vehicles

EV charging points are an innovation, but they can be combined with classic urban planning practices for maximum effect. Switzerland is famed for its trains and public transport links, so in Herrliberg, a stylish suburb of Zürich, they opted to install 10 SHUFFLE columns with EV chargers to combat a scarcity of EV charging points across the city and complement the regular S-Bahn services.

Meanwhile, in Limburgerhof, Germany, the municipality chose to light the Park-and-Ride car park by the railway station with SHUFFLE poles that integrate external EV charging units. That makes using the service even more attractive to commuters and visitors alike: they can charge their vehicle while they take the train. Happy travellers, fewer cars on city roads, and efficient electric infrastructure: it’s a win-win-win scenario.

A Greener Future 

At Schréder, we have been helping cities reduce their carbon footprint for decades, by switching to LED lighting, creating energy-efficient luminaires, and innovating dimming and light control systems. As Heilbronn shows, when new urban areas are developed by design, streets can be planned with EV charging delivered through lighting, meaning sleek design from the very start. We are delighted we can support their efforts to switch road traffic away from fossil fuels by building EV charging into urban layouts. That way, we’re all ready for a greener tomorrow. 

About the writer
As Business Development Manager at Schréder Hyperion, our Smart City centre of excellence, Guilherme focuses on the huge potential of smart city applications for cities. Passionate about making the world a better place through technology, he translates challenges into questions and answers into actionable solutions. In his spare time, Guilherme likes to volunteer and make a positive contribution to society. 

Connect with Guilherme on LinkedIn.