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Dolores Alonso Delgado
The electric car is gradually finding a place in our society. Proof of this can be seen in the interesting projects that are emerging around it, bringing us closer and closer to the future. One of them comes from ADIF, the Railway Infrastructure Administrator of our country. The public company has patented a system for the use and production of electricity that will later be channeled to supply power to electric car chargers. The fast charging points for electric vehicles are intended to be installed in train stations throughout Spain, improving the charging infrastructure throughout the nation.

How Will The Charging Railway Stations Work?

This project is innovative and very ambitious, so much so that ADIF has patented the system for obtaining electrical energy. For years ADIF has been studying how to take advantage of the electrical infrastructure of its network to recharge electric vehicles. They have finally succeeded, and this charging railway station project will soon see the light of day.   The patent falls on the ‘System control procedure and battery charging from the electrical railway system’, a project that protects a system for the massive recharge of electric car batteries. This system does not compromise the operation of the railways, and, moreover, gives the possibility of taking advantage of the energy that comes from the train’s brakes.   The most innovative thing about this system is that it allows the capture of high voltage electrical energy (AT) from the Overhead Contact Line (catenary) and its transformation to low voltage (BT) for the creation of electrical recharging points open to the public to be used for electric vehicles.     The development of this system is one of the pillars of ADIF’s plan to Fight Climate Change, whose objectives will help achieve the decarbonization of the Spanish economy by 2030.   This is a far-reaching plan that also contemplates the reduction of emissions from railway activity itself. Until now, the energy supply has been contracted by ADIF for railway traction. However, this contract requires that the production is Green Certified; this means that reinforcement with solar energy is currently being studied for possible auxiliary services.  

Pioneering Electric Vehicle Projects All Over The World

This is a worldwide pioneering project, which sought to demonstrate the viability of a new technology that had not been investigated by any other entity. The latest version of this technology is Ferrolinera 3.0. ADIF has tried to optimize this with all the development carried out previously, including industrialization criteria.   For the moment, ADIF has made spaces available in 400 electrified railway stations and mainly intercity routes to promote electric vehicles. Accordingly, 30 points will be installed in AVE stations and the other 370 in conventional train stations.   On the other hand, these charging points will be fast in all cases, and their power will range between 100 and 500 KW. This will allow loading not only private vehicles but also freight trucks, shortening charging times considerably.

The Management Of The Charging Railway Stations Will Be Private

ADIF has held meetings throughout 2020 with stakeholders from various fields to make the project known so that those interested are aware of the deployment possibilities and procedure. As the search for partners continues, ADIF intends to analyze the projects and subsequently the points that will be put out to tender, with offers being evaluated based on the criteria that have been published on the ADIF and ADIF High Speed ​​websites.   The plan is to grant tenders for the installation of these points to concession companies for an operating period of 11 years. This period may be extended by 50%, so it could go up to 16.5 years.   Along these lines, ADIF will not manage the recharging points directly, as the supply is the responsibility of the successful bidders. We understand that the business model of each successful bidder will have its own mode of exploitation. In this sense, it should be noted that ADIF’s role in this area is to provide technical feasibility analysis, provide spaces in the passenger station, provide high voltage connection points, and provide the patent for use in the case that the connection is made through the catenary.   Good management of the charging point, one of the most common complaints from electric vehicle users, is included in the specifications. Thus, the successful bidders are obliged to make all the necessary expenses for the maintenance, conservation, and cleaning of all the spaces and facilities assigned.   And, of course, the bidder must guarantee the interoperability of the points. Although the awardee of each charging point is responsible for the operation, ADIF has already enhanced interoperability. The aforementioned specification establishes the obligation for the successful tenderer or manager of the charging points to include them in specialized apps or websites, as well as facilitating their advance reservation and information about the device.  

The execution plan for ADIF’s railway stations will begin this year and is expected to end in 2022.