European Union: Moving Into A Greener Gear: The Proposed Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive

On 24 January 2013, the Commission announced and published a Proposal for a Di-rective on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure ('the Proposal')1. The Commission regards the lack of an alternative fuels infrastructure and of common technical specifications as principle barriers to the use of alternative fuels and con-sumers acceptance. The Proposal aims to ensure the setting-up of the infrastructure for the use of alternative fuels for road, sea and in-land water transport across the EU, and envisages closing the gap between past initiatives and legislation that had addressed mainly fuel production and marketing, as well as vehicles technology de-velopment, while neglecting the building-up of the necessary infrastructure.

The alternative fuels considered under this initiative are: electricity, hydrogen, bio-fuels, natural gas (in the form of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)).

The Proposal requires member states:

  • to establish a national policy framework for the market development of al-ternative fuels and their infrastructure.
  • to equip all maritime and inland ports and roads of the TENT-T Core Net-work with LNG refueling points by no later than the end of 2020, respec-tively the end of 2025.
  • to ensure that publicly accessible LNG refueling points within distances not exceeding 400 km are set in place by the end of 2020 at the latest; for CNG, the maximum distance between refueling points is set at 150 km.
  • to ensure that where hydrogen refueling station are already in place, a suf-ficient number of such refueling points are provided to allow the circulation of hydrogen vehicles on the entire national territory of a member state.
  • to ensure that a minimum number of electric vehicle recharging points are set in place by the end of 2020, and at least 10% of these recharging points are made publicly accessible

According to the Proposal any person can establish and/or operate publicly accessi-ble alternative fuel recharging points and the distribution system operators should cooperate on a non-discriminatory basis with the owners/operators. The member states will have to ensure that the prices that are charged at the publicly accessible recharging points are reasonable and do not include any penalty or prohibitive fees for recharging an electric vehicle by a user who does not have a contractual relation with the recharging point's operator.

The Proposal provides for the Commission to adopt implementing acts on the safety regulation for the storage, transport and refueling of LNG and the technical specifi-cations for the interoperability between marine vessels and refueling points for LNG in maritime and inland waterway transport.

The national policy framework of each member state needs to cover at least the fol-lowing aspects:

  • regulatory framework: setting the measures to support the building up of alternative fuel infrastructure, such as building permits, parking lots per-mits, environmental performance of business certification, and fuel stations concessions.
  • policy measures to support the implementation of the national policy framework.
  • direct incentives for purchasing alternative fuels or building the infra-structure for alternative fuels.
  • tax incentives.
  • use of public procurement in support of alternative fuels.
  • demand side non-financial incentives, such as preferential access to restricted areas, parking policy or dedicated lanes.
  • deployment and manufacturing support. An annual public budget will be allocated for alternative fuel infrastructure deployment and to sup-port manufacturing plants for alternative fuels technologies.
  • research, technological development and demonstrations. An annual public budget will be allocated to R&D.
  • targets: national targets for 2020 and beyond for the deployment of alternative fuels and for the relevant infrastructure.

The estimated investment costs under the policy options provided by the impact as-sessment accompanying the Proposal range from EUR 5.1 billion to EUR 10.5 billion.

When addressing such developments, some of the CEE member states will need to start from scratch, as there is currently little or no infrastructure to cater for alter-native fuels deployment and consumption in the region. Bulgaria, which currently has only one functioning refueling station for electric vehicles, will need to reach a proposed target of 69,000 stations by the end of 2020. Both Romania and Slovenia have no such refueling stations at all, but will have to reach proposed targets of 101,000 and 26,000, respectively, by the start of the next decade. Support meas-ures will be implemented by the member states in compliance with the state aid rules. EU financial support is available under TEN-T funds, cohesion and structural funds.

Once adopted, the Directive will have to be transposed by the member states within 18 months as of its entry into force.

The Proposal and the accompanying documents can be viewed by following this link:


1. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, COM(2013) 18 final, Brussels 24.01.2013.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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