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Compulsory charging breaks for electric cars? Delicate draft law off the table according to the ministry

The topic is apparently really important: both representatives from Tesla and Fastned used the official opening of the joint electric car charging park near Hilden in October 2020 to warn in their speeches of possible mandatory breaks when charging, which would protect the power grid with a new one Law could be introduced. On this weekend, the newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported that the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) had presented exactly such a draft law. Reports about it on Twitter triggered some outraged reactions. And they even got the ministry out of its weekend rest, because it said the quoted draft was no longer up to date.

“Peak smoothing” as an electric car brake

“Ministry of Economic Affairs is planning forced charging breaks for electric cars,” is the headline of the world article published on Sunday morning. They could be introduced through an amendment to the German Energy Industry Act (EnWG): The new Paragraph 14a provides for the right of network operators to switch off “controllable consumption devices” such as heat pumps or even electric car charging stations. This is called “peak smoothing” and is intended to prevent the network from being overloaded.

Does that mean that owners of electric cars when charging at home as well as the operators of fast charging stations like Tesla with its superchargers are threatened with a state-prescribed blackout in the future? On the one hand, two hours a day is not much. On the other hand, you could end up in this time window when you want or have to charge. That would be a considerable restriction for the burgeoning electromobility in Germany, which was recently also heavily promoted by the BMWi with higher car purchase premiums and subsidies for private and public charging stations.

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The question was asked many times on Twitter or understood as having already been answered with “yes”, but the excitement seems clearly exaggerated. On the one hand, the World Report is already wrong insofar as the EnWG draft does not speak of a complete shutdown of electric car chargers: its text was published on the website of the European Commission at the end of December, and there is no interruption in it the power supply in the event of network bottlenecks, but only a limitation of the withdrawal capacity. Instead of the maximum output, Tesla and other electric car drivers would get at least part of it if the electricity network becomes scarce.

Draft off the table according to the ministry

But not even that is to be expected. Because on Sunday, the responsible ministry reported itself to the article and to a Twitter message from Saturday, in which reference was made to the sensitive text. The draft “did not find the approval of the minister,” wrote @BMWi_Bund. That is why he was “withdrawn last Friday”. Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier will hold talks with network operators and electric car manufacturers in the coming days and then submit a proposal that is acceptable to all parties. His Twitter team left open why a draft that the minister himself does not like has already been passed on to the EU.

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