In 2014 there were 90 electric vehicles in all of Iceland, fast forward to 2018 and there are now over 6,000 registered electric vehicles in the country. This incredible rise in the number of electric cars, and Iceland’s abundance of renewable energy such as geothermal and hydropower, has many believing that the Nordic nation can become the first country to completely switch over from fossil fuel vehicles to electric ones.
A few years ago, the Icelandic government put in place a state-financed incentive program to increase the use of electric vehicles. This plan included installing fast charging stations all along Iceland’s famous Route 1 (The Ring Road), the country’s main highway and logistical backbone.
“You will not find a more challenging climate than in Iceland” says Bjarni Már Júlíusson, CEO of ON Power, a leading Icelandic electricity company that installed and operates the network of fast charging stations made by Swedish-Swiss company ABB. “The chargers are exposed to incredibly harsh weather conditions with lots of salt, sea fog, low temperatures, moisture and storms.”
ABB’s technology guarantees that the charges are operational 24/7. Remote digital connectivity enables continuous monitoring of the device from any location within Iceland. This gives ON Power access to data in real time for the remote monitoring and proactive control of the operational and technical status of the charging stations, which should remain fully functional right down to temperatures of -35C.
ABB’s fast chargers can fully recharge an electric car battery in 15-30 minutes and they also support comprehensive solutions for user authorization, payment and network connectivity. A stable charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is crucial if Iceland is to realize its ambition of becoming 100% energy sustainable.
Now that the Ring Road is open to electric cars, Bjarni believes that electric rental cars will increase rapidly in the near future. This development is sure to heavily reduce the usage of cars that run on fossil fuels. “In the beginning people were skeptical, but now they see e-vehicles on the road and realize that they are here to stay,” he says. “I’m quite convinced that it’s possible to sell tourists on the idea of taking an emissions-free trip around Iceland”.