Guest Editor: Gill Nowell, Principal Consultant, AFRY
Whilst Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly conjures up festive cheer, Town Halls can sometimes be a little less jolly. But it was with open ears that I listened in to an AFRY Town Hall in November, just a week or two into my new role as Principal Consultant within AFRY Management Consulting’s Future Cities & Mobility’s team. And I was heartened to hear senior leadership talk of the sustainability that courses through the veins of all the work that AFRY does. I came away from that meeting knowing that I was working for a company whose values align with my own; a company, that in a world steeped in climate chaos, has the core purpose of accelerating the transition towards a more sustainable society.
So, who is AFRY?
AFRY is a global sustainable engineering, design and advisory company. With almost 20,000 employees globally, in over 40 countries, AFRY was founded in Malmo, Sweden, in 1895. Which makes our roots over 125 years old. In AFRY Management Consulting we offer strategic advice, forecast market developments, support organisational transformation and preparation for investment decisions.
AFRY Management Consulting has a team dedicated to future cities and mobility, with a wealth of experience in the fields of EV charging networks and electric mobility. We support clients on transport decarbonisation and provide technical guidance for the development of smart cities. We’ve assisted multiple organisations to understand the field of electric mobility, developing decarbonisation and market entry strategies. Typical clients include charge point operators, OEMs, governing bodies, and investment funds.
If we take EV charging infrastructure as an example, we know that sustainable growth of electric mobility requires investment in charging infrastructure, so we model the pace of growth and the type of infrastructure needed. We understand that additional electricity demand from EVs creates a challenge for electricity networks. We provide insight through our state-of-the-art BID3 power market modelling software.
We also appreciate that vehicle charging infrastructure is still in its relative infancy, and so we advise our clients, in both the private and public sectors, on new market entry and design, business planning, and regulations.
Electrification of transport at the heart of sustainable societies
As we move toward a more sustainable society, reducing emissions from the transport sector is critical, given that it’s the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Europe. Indeed, transport is the only sector where emissions continue to rise. Emissions need to fall by two thirds by 2050 in order to meet our net zero commitments. In a nutshell, the electrification of transport helps fight climate change, improves air quality and therefore health outcomes, and reduces noise pollution. The decarbonisation of road transport is essential.
Scale of the transport decarbonisation challenge
The EU’s vehicle fleet consists of almost 250 million passenger vehicles. Less than 2% of those are electrified. Additionally, there are also 37 million commercial vehicles and buses. All three segments will undergo progressive electrification in the coming years – which in turn will increase the demand for reliable EV charging infrastructure, on both public and private grounds. Notably, by 2050 only 7% of all road vehicles will be powered by fossil fuels, with electrification now known to be the most efficient means for reducing transport emissions.
Inexorable rise of the electric car (and charging infrastructure)
The good news is that EV market growth is now inevitable. According to Bloomberg we have sailed past the 5% tipping point of all new sales of cars being electric, in 23 countries. Despite the general slowdown in economic growth and car sales generally across Europe, EVs are weathering the proverbial storm. In the UK for example, sales of new EVs continued to increase for 42 consecutive months up to and including October 2023.
The headline here is that of the 250 million passenger cars in Europe, 50 million of those cars will be electric by 2050.
Charging infrastructure is becoming ubiquitous and more reliable, and again, if we take the UK as an example, with over 52,000 public chargers and £6 billion worth of investment committed to charging infrastructure up to 2030, the future is bright for EV.
I haven’t even touched on the second-hand market, nor policy drivers for EV in the UK – Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, Public Charge Point Regulations, UK Battery Strategy, Plan for Drivers, launch of the LEVI Fund and the welcome delay to the 10% tariff imposition under the Rules of Origin… perhaps next time.