60,000 EV charging points across Singapore by 2030: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE — The Singapore government aims to deploy 60,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points across the country by 2030, with some 40,000 in public carparks and 20,000 in private premises, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on Thursday (4 March).

In addition, all Housing Development Board (HDB) carparks in eight towns will be fitted with EV charging points: Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong West, Punggol, Queenstown, Sembawang and Tengah.

Speaking during the Committee of Supply (COS) debate on the Singapore Green Plan 2030, Ong said that this translates into an EV to charging point ratio of about 5:1, assuming a third of cars are EVs by 2030. "This ratio is better than many public estimates of the optimum ratio, which ranges from 5:1 to 10:1."

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung addresses Parliament during the Committee of Supply debate on Wednesday, 3 March 2021. (SCREENGRAB: Ministry of Communications and Information YouTube channel
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung addresses Parliament during the Committee of Supply debate on Wednesday, 3 March 2021. (SCREENGRAB: Ministry of Communications and Information YouTube channel )

Acknowledging West Coast Member of Parliament (MP) Ang Wei Neng's point that charging should be fast, the 51-year-old noted that the deterrent for most drivers to switch from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to EVs is the lack of charging points.

The key to unlocking more charging facilities, Ong said, is to not insist on high-powered, ‘fast’ charging, as this would require a major upgrading of almost all the power substations and grid infrastructure all over Singapore.

"It would be costly, time-consuming, stall the development and expansion of charging infrastructure, and severely impede the adoption of EVs. We can move much faster in making charging points available if we accept that for most users, instead of high-powered ‘fast’ charging, ‘slow’ or ‘overnight’ charging is alright."

INFOGRAPHIC: Ministry of Transport
INFOGRAPHIC: Ministry of Transport

Ong, who is also an MP for Sembawang, pointed to Europe and Japan, where EV users predominantly use slow charging, with fast charging (of 22kW and above) estimated to account for only about 10-20 per cent of charging demand. Drivers are therefore used to quick visits to the petrol kiosks.

"After all, we are used to patiently charging our electronic devices like smart phones, smart watches or laptops, while we sleep, or in office while we work. It will be the same for EVs."

The average EV, with a range of around 400-500km, should require a typical user to fully charge about once every five days. Ong added that charging points will need to be shared, with different drivers charging on different days and different times, especially in public car parks.

"That way, we will be able to minimise electrical infrastructure upgrades, tap on the spare electrical capacity in all our public carparks, and install charging points as quickly as possible."

Nevertheless, fast chargers can be installed where the infrastructure supports it, or where the infrastructure is selectively upgraded. Fast chargers can already be found in certain petrol kiosks, shopping malls, and industrial and commercial sites.

How will charging points be installed?

As suggested by MPs Lim Biow Chuan and Xie Yao Quan, the government will make it mandatory for car parks in HDB towns, private residences like condominiums and commercial buildings to cater sufficient electrical capacity to support EV charging, and ensure that a minimum number of charging points is installed.

However, Ong noted, this can only be done for new developments. For existing car parks in public housing estates, public sector agencies will drive the installation in phased packages, well-spread across the island. Such carparks will be required to support EV slow charging for 15 per cent of their lots and install a minimum number of chargers.

For non-landed private residences, such as condominiums, an EV Common Charger Grant will be introduced to catalyse implementation. It will co-fund the installation of 2,000 chargers, subject to a cap. This is part of the $30 million allocation announced in Budget 2021, with more details to come from the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Ong conceded that in order to install charging points in condominiums, management corporations need to convene general meetings and seek approval, which may not be forthcoming. In light of this, he urged the private sector to drive the solution.

"There are already a number of EV charging players, such as SP Mobility, Greenlots, and Charge+, some of which are prepared to undertake all the upfront installation cost, in return for revenue from EV charging. So the right tender specifications and commercial model will get this going."

Several such projects already exist, which price charging at about 39 to 50 cents per kilowatt hour. "This works out to be about seven to nine cents per km travelled, which I think is attractive and competitive."

Fleet operators must step up

About 60 per cent of taxis in Singapore are already petrol-hybrids, while car fleet operators are committed to 100 per cent cleaner energy fleets by 2040.

Given that they will need fast charging in order to support their business operations, Ong conceded that government and fleet operators will need to work out these issues.

The minister stressed, "But let me say this: fleet operators will need to be prepared to invest in building up the infrastructure to support their operations. They can amortise the investment over many vehicles, over many years of operations. Cost of electricity will very likely still work out much cheaper than petrol or diesel."

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