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A Guest Post by Giles Kirkland
Traveling Green Through Europe
Road transport is responsible for 11.9% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, which makes decarbonisation of road travel a priority in the fight against climate change. It also means that if you want to travel sustainably through Europe, especially to places where public transport doesn’t go, you’ll need to buy or hire an electric vehicle. But what types are available, and what’s the difference between them? And how easy is it to find a charging station these days?
2020 is nearing to a close, and the answers are in.
Choosing Your Car: The Five Types of EVs
BEVs (battery electric vehicles) have an electric motor and use chemical energy stored in rechargeable batteries.
FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles), also known as hydrogen-powered vehicles, have an electric motor and use a fuel cell to transform compressed hydrogen gas into electricity. A battery is used to recapture braking energy.
HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles) vary in how they use and generate power, but they all have an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors. Kinetic energy from regenerative braking is converted into electricity and stored in a battery.
PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) are rechargeable hybrids the batteries of which can be charged from an external source and regenerative braking to run an electric motor.
EREVs (extended range electric vehicles) have a range extender, also known as an auxiliary power unit. This power unit is usually a small internal combustion engine that drives an electric generator to charge the batteries and supply the motor with electricity.
While all types of EV are usually more expensive than traditional vehicles right now, many countries offer incentives to help with the cost of buying an electric vehicle. These incentives are likely to become more common and generous as deadlines for the cessation of sale of traditional vehicles comes closer – and those deadlines are being moved as countries begin to take the climate change threat more seriously.
In the UK, the deadline was brought forward from 2040 to 2035 in February, but as of November 2020, it has been pushed forward even further to 2030. Meanwhile, in Southern Europe, the Italian government is planning to increase its purchase subsidy to 10,000 EUR due to lack of interest in electric cars in spite of the numerous incentives and benefits on offer.
So now that you’ve rented or bought your EV, what green destinations can you travel to without suffering from range anxiety?
Choosing Your Green Destinations
Reliable charging networks
While Scandinavia has long been seen as the leader in all things sustainable, the rest of Europe is catching up, albeit slowly in some places. For instance, if you’re travelling in western Europe, you shouldn’t suffer from range anxiety – worrying if your EV will make it to the next charging station.
As you can see from the map, based on the total number of EV charging stations per country, the West is well covered, with the Netherlands taking the lead. However, Iceland has a good network too – thanks to its small population and compact size, it really doesn’t need many charging stations for decent coverage! When it comes to Eastern Europe, though, you may need to do some research before you set off.
*Based on the total number of EV charging stations per country
The number of charging stations is increasing all the time, and while most stations have Level 2 chargers, which take around 3-4 hours to charge your EV’s battery, more and more are also equipped with Level 3 DC Fast Chargers. While not all EVs can use Level 3 chargers, it is an invaluable amenity for long-distance travel – your battery can be fully charged within an hour!
Sustainable Stays in Europe
If you’re not only looking to travel sustainably but stay somewhere green too, we know exactly where to look for inspiration. The Global Destinations Sustainability Index currently lists 18 European destinations in its Top 20; Gothenburg (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), and Zurich (Switzerland) hold the top 3 spots.
For somewhere more rural or less tourist-heavy, explore the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) Awards. Every two years, lesser-known sustainable destinations in each participating country are awarded and recognised for their sustainable themes. For instance, the theme for 2019 was health and well-being tourism. EDEN-winning sun-seeker destinations include Podčetrtek (Slovenia), Ambroz Valley (Spain), and Valdichiana Senese (Italy), but why not peruse the full list of winners to find the ideal place for you?
Wherever you choose to go, taking the environmentally-friendly route ensures you do your part to preserve the earth’s most stunning locations for future generations (and recurring visits!).
The infographics originally appeared in an article on electromobility in Europe.
(Solo Trekker 4 U notes: Looking closer to home in the US? Check out this update on US renewable energy and see which states are in the forefront.