Alternative fuel infrastructure: Provisional agreement for more recharging and refuelling stations across Europe

More recharging and refuelling stations for alternative fuels will be deployed in the coming years across Europe enabling the transport sector to significantly reduce its carbon footprint following today’s provisional political agreement between the Council and the European Parliament.

The agreement will send a clear signal to citizens and other stakeholders that user-friendly recharging infrastructure and refuelling stations for alternative fuels, such as hydrogen, will be installed throughout the EU. This means that more public recharging capacity will be available on the streets in urban areas as well along the motorways. Citizens will no longer have a reason to feel anxious about finding charging and refuelling stations to their electric or fuel-cell car.

Main objectives of the proposed legislation

The objective of the proposed alternative fuel infrastructure regulation (AFIR) is threefold:

  • to ensure that there is a sufficient infrastructure network for recharging or refuelling road vehicles or ships with alternative fuels
  • to provide alternative solutions so that vessels at berth and stationary aircraft do not need to keep their engines running
  • to achieve full interoperability throughout the EU and to make sure that the infrastructure is easy to use

The proposed regulation will play an important role in speeding up the deployment of this infrastructure so that the adoption of zero- and low-emission vehicles and ships will not be impeded, initiating a virtuous circle for the transport sector, and delivering on the targets of the European climate law.

Main elements retained from the Commission’s proposal

The provisional agreement retains the fundamental aspects of the Commission’s proposal, i.e., the key overall parameters that will have a real impact on the climate, in particular:

  • for recharging light electric vehicles, requirements for the total power capacity to be provided based on the size of the registered fleet and the trans-European network-transport (TEN-T) coverage requirements in 2025 and 2030
  • for recharging electric heavy-duty vehicles and hydrogen refuelling, requirements for TEN-T coverage by 2030, starting in 2025 for electric heavy-duty vehicles
  • for the supply of electricity to ships at the quayside in ports, requirements applicable from 2030

Main amendments to the Commission’s proposal

The text of the provisional agreement amends, however, some aspects of the Commission’s proposal:

  • given the specific dynamics of the electric heavy-duty vehicles and the fact that the market is less developed than for light vehicles, a gradual process of infrastructure deployment is set to start in 2025 aiming at covering all TEN-T roads by 2030
  • to maximise the efficiency of investments in hydrogen refuelling and to adapt to technological developments, the requirements focus on the deployment of gaseous hydrogen refuelling infrastructure with a particular attention to urban nodes and multimodal hubs
  • to ensure that electric recharging requirements are compatible with the wide range of circumstances on the ground and that investments are proportionate to needs, the total power of electric recharging pools has been adapted and the maximum distance between recharging pools for road sections with very low traffic can be increased
  • to make electric recharging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure easy to use, different payment and price-display options are available, while avoiding disproportionate investment, particularly in existing infrastructure
  • regarding on-shore power supply in maritime ports, provisions are now fully consistent with the recently agreed FuelEU maritime proposal
  • the text specifies the obligations of each stakeholder involved, provides for progress tracking, ensures users are properly informed and supplies the industry with common standards and technical specifications
  • with a view to significant technological and market developments that will affect heavy-duty vehicles, the text of the provisional agreement includes a clause on a specific review in the short term, whereas the whole regulation will be also reviewed in the medium term

Next steps

The provisional political agreement is now subject to formal approval by the two co-legislators. On the Council’s side, the Swedish presidency intends to submit the text to the member states’ representatives (Coreper) as soon as possible with a view to its formal adoption by one of the upcoming Councils.

Background information

The alternative fuel infrastructure regulation (AFIR) is part of the Fit for 55 package. Presented by the European Commission on 14 July 2021, the package aims to enable the EU to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to achieve climate neutrality in 2050.

On 2 June 2022, the Transport Council reached a general approach on the proposal.

The text of the provisional agreement will be available at a later stage.