A huge charge park is now open in the small German town of Merklingen

The "world's largest car park" is not in China (anymore) but in a tiny place nestled in Germany's industrious south. Merklingen, a town with just over 2,000 residents in Baden-Württemberg, now boasts commuter parking with 259 EV charging spaces.

Image: Albwerk

That is precisely one charge point more than in the charging park opened by Shell and BYD in Shenzhen last month, which also claimed to be the world’s largest at the time. The Chinese installation, of course, remains much more powerful, with all 258 charging stations offering fast charges. During trials, the new park near Shenzhen Airport provided power to more than 3,300 electric cars daily. 

The chargers installed in Merklingen deliver no more than 11 kW in AC charging – enough, though, for the intended user group. Rather than to an airport, the hub connects to Deutsche Bahn’s speed train route, the ICE connection between Ulm and Wendlingen. It is designed for Park&Ride, meaning for commuters taking the train after leaving the car at the station.

The municipality expects residents in the surrounding area who travel by train to Stuttgart or Ulm for shopping or work to use the new space; charging takes between four and eight hours.

The multimodality is not the only sustainable feature in Merklingen. A photovoltaic installation covers the entire space like a vast Solar Carport. Peak capacity is given at 875 Kilowatt, and the founders claim that the PV system produces up to 900,000 kWh of renewable energy a year. Excess energy feeds directly into the local grid. (In Shenzhen, Shell estimates solar panels installed on the roof could generate about 300,000 kWh of renewable electricity annually.)

The Swabian Alb Regional Association, which commissioned the charging park in Merklingen, is an association of twelve municipalities. It was founded in 2016 with the aim to construct the railway station and develop industry and commerce across the region.

As for the new charge hub, the municipalities built with future electric transport needs in mind. “In about ten years, the majority of the vehicles parked here will be e-mobility vehicles, and the facility will, therefore, also be gradually utilised to capacity,” said the association’s deputy chairman, Christoph Jung. “In this respect, it was, of course, important for us to build this place exactly in this size.”

As long as the charging park is not at full (charging) capacity, the parking spaces may also be used by ICE vehicles. Charging costs 0.5 €/kWh in Merklingen plus a transaction fee of 0.99 euros per charging process.

The Merklingen charging park for electric cars cost more than four million euros; the state of Baden-Württemberg covered about €2.5 million, over half of the total investment.

Elke Zimmer (Greens), Secretary of State for Transport, called the new hub a “booster for electromobility in the region”.

Technical partners included Albwerk Elektro- und Kommunikationstechnik GmbH and Rudolf Hörmann GmbH & Co KG. Albwerk installed the 259 charge points between July and September and will also serve as the charge point operator. “The solar carport is a unique project that cleverly combines charging infrastructure and regenerative power generation to promote mobility in the region,” said Ulli Schreiner, Albwerk’s Managing Director.

sueddeutsche.de, swr.de (both in German)


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