The importance of electric mobility will increase significantly globally. The Association of Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies (VDE) describes this development in its recently published study “Logistics, Energy and Mobility 2030” (PDF). In 2019, the number of electric cars, including plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, was 4.79 million worldwide. The experts estimate that by 2030 this number will increase thirty-fold to 150 million.
Increased energy density of the battery cells
“Batteries are already sufficiently well developed for use in the areas of mobility and logistics,” says the analysis of the VDEwhich are part of the program “ICT for electromobilityt “of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) was created. Further optimizations in the area of manufacturing and material costs can be expected through optimized and automated production processes as well as through new material innovations, which often also result in an increase in energy.
Lithium-ion technology is currently being used to drive battery-electric vehicles, with which, according to the scientists, Asian manufacturers have a knowledge advantage over Germany. The energy density of a battery cell can be increased by combining new anode materials such as lithium metal with solid electrolyte. In practice, however, the production processes for implementation would still have to be defined. Use in the field of e-mobility is not expected before 2030.
In the opinion of the authors, fuel cells represent a flexible and technically mature drive energy, especially for heavy haulage and long-distance traffic, within ten years. The penetration of the market with hydrogen vehicles will probably only take place between 2030 and 2050.
Biofuels and electricity are hardly used
According to the study, vehicles will still be powered by fossil fuels such as gasoline or diesel in a decade, as other alternative fuels would not be available in sufficient quantities to replace combustion vehicles. Currently, more than 90 percent of the fuels used are made from mineral oil. Biofuels and electricity played only a minor role. However, “business as usual” is not an issue for society as a whole with regard to greenhouse gas emissions.
The researchers predict that the energy market will become more heterogeneous in the future. In order to guarantee the continuous inclusion and expansion of renewable energies in the electricity mix, the network charges and the EEG surcharge would have to be continuously developed. The stability of the grids should be guaranteed even with fluctuating feed-in. On the other hand, the regulation should be avoided in times of high energy yields through flexible storage solutions such as stationary storage batteries or the conversion into hydrogen. A fundamental transformation process in this direction must have taken place by 2030. A further reform of the EEG is necessary, above all in order to exploit the potential of solar systems.
Autonomous cars will remain isolated cases
The study shows that the infrastructure must also be geared to the changed framework conditions. Charging technologies and infrastructures should be expanded for both battery-powered cars and fuel cell vehicles. The steady increase in e-mobility represents a “demanding, but manageable challenge” for the power grid. The ten million e-vehicles targeted in this country require a charging capacity of 10 GW in 2030, which is a proportion of a total load of around 80 GW in the transmission network 12.5 percent. Realistic estimates of the effects of charging vehicles on the power grid are necessary.
In ten years’ time, fully autonomous vehicles will at best be used “as individual solutions”, the authors believe. By then, partially to highly automated and fully autonomous minibuses could increasingly be used for passenger transport. Solutions in the sense of feeder and distribution traffic through intelligent networking with existing traffic offers are particularly promising here. Technically, robo-cars would have to be adapted to the flow of traffic: “Particularly with regard to the speed and reliability of the vehicles, high technical hurdles have to be overcome”. Furthermore, a regulatory approval by the legislator is still required.
Increasing traffic, limited expansion of the routes
The traffic performance will increase steadily over the next decade, the report says. The most important road and rail routes would be increasingly overcrowded. Since unlimited expansion is not possible, the utilization of existing networks must be optimized: “Otherwise, the transport volume will no longer be able to grow due to traffic jams on motorways, stationary freight trains and stuck inland ships.”
The number and shape of logistics players and mobility service providers are becoming more diverse, the researchers assume. Offers are largely driven by digitization, which enables a better coordination of supply and demand in passenger transport. In view of the expected increase in population, particularly in the metropolitan regions, innovative solutions would have to be found here.
Based on two scenarios with a “fly robot” (Flybot) and “advertising logistics” with “micro-depots” as further packing stations for collection, the scientists describe two alternative delivery concepts in which autonomous or automated systems are used.
With “Parcel Concierge” and “Last Mile Market”, the authors also outline two platform-based concepts for transport over the last mile. The first focuses on reducing individual deliveries, while the second is designed to better utilize existing delivery capacities in the store. “DBee-Logistik” focuses on the transport of letters and parcels over long distances. With the help of autonomous container solutions, the rail should come into play again.