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France has nearly 50,000 charging points, but what about public charging stations? At a time when the administration knows the exact number of private swimming pools (thanks Google!), it is impossible to know how many charging stations our territory hosts.

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The TotalEnergies station in La Défense with several charging stations and points.

Six. That’s the number of nuclear attack submarines owned by France. One hundred and ninety-two, the number of Rafale fighter jets owned by the French Air Force and Navy. Fifty-six, the number of nuclear power plants in France. What do these three figures have in common? None, except that they were obtained freely thanks to the inevitable Google search engine.

On the other hand, there is a data that is difficult to consult, that of the number of public electric charging stations in France. While searching the web, Google announces 29,600 units. An information provided by the Zeplug site and dating from May 2020.
In this article, it is also reported “29 578 charging points open to the public in March 2020”. This figure was provided by Avere, the National Association for the Development of Electric Mobility, which itself relies on data provided by Gireve, the interoperability platform that puts operators and installers of charging stations and other electric networks in contact with each other.

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A single charging point on this terminal.

And that’s where the problem lies and where a certain confusion – cleverly maintained? – reigns today. It starts at the highest level of the State, whose objective is to reach “100,000 public charging points” by the end of 2021. Now, consulting the said ” target=”blank”]document[/link] dated October 12, 2020 and edited by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, we realize that it is also mentioned twice “100,000 charging points open to the public”.

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@Ministere Ecologie Transition

From there to make the amalgam between charging stations and charging points, there is only one step, which the editors of Les Numériques have crossed many times through different articles. Mea-culpa. We can always reassure ourselves by saying that we were not the only ones to make this mistake.

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Charging stations offering one or more charging points

Let’s thank the <a href=”https://www.automobile-propre.com/voiture-electrique-bornes-ou-points-de-recharge-il-faut-savoir/” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>Automobile Propre, the electric mobility specialist, which in an article from February 2021 explains the difference between charging point, charging station and network of charging stations. In short, a charging point is a single socket where a single electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle can come and recharge. A charging station is therefore a piece of equipment that integrates a certain number of sockets or charging points, or connectors.

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A charging station in Fontainebleau station with a single charging point.

But, because there is a but. A charging station can have four charging points, but only two charging points will be counted in total. Indeed, Automobile Propre gives the example of a charging station with “a Type 2 socket and a Type E/F for slow charging” on one side, and “a Type 3 socket and a Type E/F” on the other side. Using either the Type 2 or the Type 3 plug “will condemn the domestic type plug on the same side. And vice versa”. As a result, “the Type 2 plug + E/F connector will constitute a single charging point”. Headache guaranteed.

Today, the authorities in charge of electric charging only talk about charging points, except for Tesla and Fastned, the newcomer, who talk about charging stations. Every month, Avere publishes a national barometer of charging infrastructures open to the public in collaboration with Gireve.

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The latest barometer stopped at the end of November 2021 referenced 51,243 charging points, which is “a +57% increase since the beginning of the year, according to Avere.

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The document also provides information on the number of charging stations by region, the total power installed by region, the distribution of charging points by location, and charging by power category. Regarding this last point, we learn that there are 262 charging points (1%) offering a charging power of 150 to 350 kW, and 339 charging points (1%) at 350 kW.

As you can see, however, there is nothing about the number of charging points. When we asked Avere about this, it turned to Gireve “which did not wish to communicate this data”.

We then turned to the operator Métropolis (5,000 charging points with billing per kilowatt-hour), which also failed to provide us with information, preferring to talk about charging points.

The same thing happened with the Ministry of Ecological Transition regarding its objective of 100,000 charging points. The latter had answered that in reality “we were indeed talking about 100,000 charging points”, adding that “for users, only the charging points matter”. Personally, when I have to travel in an electric vehicle, I am mainly concerned about finding a charging point… that works, before eventually knowing the number of charging points offered!

Finally, we’ll get a start on the detailsation with Chargemap, one of the pioneers in the aggregation of charging stations in Europe, which also offers a payment card.

Its founder and CEO, Yoann Nussbaumer, told us that this “question is always complicated”. He explained that “everyone counts the charge points on the terminals open to roaming, but that this excludes certain free terminals open to everyone”. Hence the difficulty of counting all the charging points.

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We’re still a long way from counting

Since the question of public charging stations seems to be a state secret, we took the liberty of evaluating their number. Knowing that, on average, there are 1.2 charging points per station (to keep things simple, we have rounded up to 2 charging points), we simply divided the 51,243 charging points as a dividend and the number of charging points as a divisor. This gives 25,621 public charging points, to which we must add the “free charging points open to all” mentioned by Chargemap.

Nevertheless, we are far from the 100,000 charging points hoped for by the French government. To reach this goal, which is not a goal at all, we would need 200 000 charging points.

Still, we are still waiting to know the exact number of public charging stations in France…

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