Sweet E-motion – Electrifying Berlin
From the first mile to the last mile – it has never been as important that the energy and transport sectors work together.
The amount of CO2 produced per capita per year in Berlin decreased by 1,3 tonnes in the last decade, from 6 tonnes in 2010 to 4,7 in 2019, and is likely to be less again now. Since traffic is responsible for about a third of the CO2 emissions in the city, any increase in the number of electric vehicles is a factor in this positive development.
The transition to sustainable power requires the efficient use of renewable energies in the mobility sector, including infrastructure and the necessary storage options. Along with fuel cells and hydrogen, this involves electromobility, or more specifically the integration of commercial and private electric road vehicles into decentralized energy networks.
“Fill ’er up!”
Electric vehicles need to be charged, and this works a little differently from traditional filling stations. Especially within big cities, you are much more likely to find a charging point for your e-car than a gas station. A charging station looks like and takes up as much square footage as an ordinary parking space, and they are dotted about urban areas in ever increasing numbers. There are well over 1,800 publicly accessible charging points in Berlin city alone, over 3,000 in Berlin and Brandenburg, with the number constantly growing.
In addition there are five hydrogen filling stations available around the clock in Berlin for vehicles powered by fuel cells, with two more coming soon. Filling up takes less than five minutes, and this pioneering way to drive is also free of pollutants and CO2.
Who gets to use a charge point, and at what cost? And how do drivers find them in the first place? Not to mention home-charging with wall-boxes or charge points for company vehicle fleets. The business logic of charging stations is different from gas stations and opens up new opportunities.
It is not just big names like TIER or Tesla (more on their giga factory in our article), leading European public EV charging network Allego, or e-mobility software company Plugsurfing who contribute to the fact that Berlin is ahead of the game in e-mobility. With infrastructure, charging, sharing, or mobility-as-a-service, more and more suppliers and startups are gathering in Germany’s capital, making it a significant hub for the sector in the European market.
One of the best places to access the entire electromobility scene in Berlin is eMO. eMO is the Berlin Agency for Electromobility, under the auspices of the economic development agency of Berlin, Berlin Partner. Did you know that approximately one third of all traffic within a big city is commercial? Well, eMO does, and therefore supports Berlin companies and organizations in electrifying their vehicles. Why? “Because [compared with petrol] electricity is certainly the better way. Certainly!” So says Olaf Höhn, MD of Berlin ice cream manufacturer Florida Eis, who benefitted from eMO’s help and has since halved costs for deliveries within the city.
eMO also provides entrepreneurs, start-ups, and companies in the sector opportunities for networking and launching cooperative projects, and promotes technology-neutral testing of other climate-friendly vehicle and engine concepts. With a partner network of more than 70 companies and institutions from the mobility sector, eMO connects science, business and administration.
Furthermore, through the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB), the development bank and central promotional institute of the state of Berlin, the city offers businesses WELMO, a program which promotes commercial e-mobility. In addition, the German government offers a number of programs and subsidies.
Fully Charged – Two Tech Companies That Chose Berlin
By now everybody knows that urban e-mobility is practicable and suitable for everyday use, economically efficient due to low operating costs as well as subsidies, environmentally sensible because of lower CO2 emissions and less pollution and noise, and good for any business’ image.
Scandinavia has long been leading the way in the transition to green. Now Scandinavian companies are entering the bigger European market through Berlin. Two companies that have recently decided to open up offices in the German capital in order to consolidate their European business activities are Virta from Finland and Monta from Denmark. Both received assistance from eMO.
The “Sparkling City” – Virta
Asked what the future holds for electromobility, Nicolai Woyczechowski, DACH Sales Director at Virta, comments, “Electromobility is the future and the only way to go. Especially after what we have been seeing in 2022, fossil-free mobility is the answer to many questions of our generation. In the future, we must accelerate the transition towards zero-emission mobility, and that is where Virta is taking charge of the future.”
As to Virta’s contribution to this future, “Virta provides turnkey solutions for its customers, since 2013. Our system integrates electric mobility, energy systems and the digital sector into one ecosystem. Today we are the fastest-growing EV charging platform in Europe and operate in 30 countries with over 500.000 registered EV drivers. Virta is constantly striving to enable EV charging for more and more businesses in order to create a sustainable future.”
Virta provides scalable smart grid solutions. Their electric vehicle charging platform connects all key players in the EV ecosystem and allows running EV charging services of any size anywhere in the world. Their ‘vehicle to grid’ technology enables energy to be pushed back to the power grid from the battery of an electric car. They also have an intelligent home charging service with market price optimization and station sharing. In addition they are developing an energy storage platform to dynamically connect batteries of all sizes into the energy system.
So why did Virta decide to relocate to Berlin? According to Woyczechowski, “For Virta there was no other choice, simply because Berlin is the center of innovation and new green technologies in Germany – and far beyond. Berlin is an exciting and sparkling city, and you can sense this excitement about the future everywhere. This is the environment where Virta immediately felt in the right place.”
The Future of Mobility – Monta
The heart of Monta’s scalable and sustainable charging infrastructure is a management software that brings together charging station installers, operators, businesses, and e-drivers. The Monta platform provides a vendor-agnostic solution to manage charging station usage, pricing, user access and transactions. Also, the Monta app enables e-drivers to track and optimize their electricity usage, and even offer others their personal charging station.
Asked about Monta’s contribution, COO Max Lion Scherer says, “We truly believe electromobility will make the world a better place for our societies, our environment and the generations to come. In order for this to happen, we need to ensure that all the different players in the system participate in the change and support it. Simply put: It is a team effort. We see ourselves as an enabler for this change. We help people and companies get ready for this new era of mobility by supporting companies, municipalities, and individual drivers to transition to a more sustainable mode of transportation and a smarter use of energy. The solutions we build give organizations the means to manage their infrastructure flexibly and on demand. Our app provides a tool for drivers to manage their energy needs intelligently, and charge anytime and anywhere.”
Monta was founded in Copenhagen in the fall of 2020 and has already set up offices in London and Berlin. Why did Monta choose Berlin?
“Berlin has a pioneering role in Germany. It is the best city for international tech-talent in Germany. As a tech company, we see ourselves as part of this scene. We want to both benefit from it and contribute to it. We hope that we can help Berlin continue being a pioneer also in EV adoption, and look forward to entering the conversation with the City and other market players.”
Easy, accessible and reliable electric vehicle charging will be key to the quick adoption of e-mobility, which is one of the main factors in the transition to sustainability. Berlin is an important center for this sector, and mobility in general is with logistics and traffic one of the focus areas of the city’s development. All good reasons to come to Berlin.
Text: Olaf Bryan Wielk, ideenmanufaktur
Header image: © Berlin Partner/eventfotografen.berlin