“I have to wait an hour before my electric van is recharged. It’s long ! Too long! And there are only two charging stations for this service station (direction Bierges Brussels)“, explains a driver.
“I, will have to wait about 40 minutes to recharge the battery of my company electric car, even with high speed and terminal power of 175 kW“, comments a car driver from Namur who is going to work in Brussels. “Here in Bierges (towards Brussels) I was lucky to see that one of the two terminals was still free. Because sometimes both are busy. In general, at service stations, charging stations are often out of order or even unavailable. It is more and more frequent. However, there are more and more electric cars and waiting times are getting longer. Therefore, you will often have to queue in the future if nothing changes. The electrical transition, I don’t believe it. In addition, sophisticated and more efficient vehicles are very expensive, reserved for wealthy customers.“, laments the pilot from Namur.
Far from being unique, the case of the Bierges service station raises the question of a sufficient and faster supply in the coming years. Why the hybrid vehicle fleet plug in (rechargeable via socket) and electric vehicles are expected to increase sharply in the coming years. Recall that the European Parliament voted to stop sales of new cars with atmospheric engines (petrol and diesel) from 2035 onwards. Currently, charging stations at service stations are often available. “But at certain times of the day, there can be spikes. Two or three cars at the same time and you have to wait or go somewhere else“, relativizes an electric car owner.”We will really have to find short and medium term solutions, otherwise it will be complicated !”
For Tom Claerbout, Director of Public Relations at TotalEnergies Belgium, it is clear that service stations will have to adapt to market developments to avoid saturation and long lines. “In Bierges, for example, we currently have two charging stations (two in each direction). These 175 kW terminals are very fast. But despite everything, it is true that it still takes a while to recharge. Depending on the vehicle’s battery generation, the charging time will be longer or shorter. Fortunately, technology is changing. We will gradually modernize our charging points over the next 10 to 20 years to meet demand. Let’s switch to 300 kW terminals. Same thing for the number of terminals per station. Indeed, on a site, the first installation of terminals takes time. But the implementation of additional terminals, goes much faster. Thus, there will be a shift from conventional fuel supply to electric.“.
Accelerate the Wallonia offer
Currently, TotalEnergies has almost 1,000 charging stations in Belgium, most of them located in the north of the country. Other operators are also stepping up gears so as not to have a war behind the growth in the number of vehicles. It remains to be seen how electricity prices and generation capacities in particular will evolve.
“The south of the country will accelerate the installation of bollards“, we assure SPW. On Sofico’s side, responsible for the approximately 100 motorway rest areas that border Wallonia’s structural network, it should be remembered that a large part of the service stations are assigned to private operators. According to the latest inventory, in Wallonia, the vast majority of service stations on motorways are equipped with two to four charging stations, mainly 50 kW. A dozen of them offer powers of 175 kW. Only three stations in Wallonia are equipped with ultra-powerful terminals (350 kW): Barchon (Liège province), Theux (Liège Province) and Froyennes (province of Hainaut).