Electric Vehicle Charging Stations and Their Legal Framework in Turkey

“We will not stop until every car on the road is electric.”

Elon Musk

 

Introduction

According to Turkey Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Association (“TEHAD”), electric vehicles are: “vehicles that are in possession of a fuel-saving, non-oil consuming, quiet and highly efficient motors.” An electric vehicle’s energy comes from its battery where another part called “the rotor” converts this electrical energy to motional energy. When compared to diesel/fossil fuel vehicles, electric vehicles have lower carbon emissions and therefore are considered eco-friendly. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the source of this electricity and how it is produced is crucial in this context; the emerging eco-friendly trend nowadays is electricity production with solar panels and wind turbines[1].

In order to combat climate change, The European Commission had aimed to set the net greenhouse gas emission to zero by 2050 with the Green Deal [2]. In the direction of strict emission policies adopted by countries in accordance with their net zero emissions aim, the use of internal combustion engines is being abandoned. That might be the reason for the increase in the number of sales in the European market at 25% despite the decrease in the global sales of electric vehicles due to the pandemic in early 2020[3].

However, it seems that this incentive and interest is not limited to Europe. Because, according to the declaration opened for signature at the COP26 Summit[4] held in Glasgow recently, governments will work to ensure that all new car and van sales in leading markets will be zero emissions by 2035 or 2040 at the latest. Also, the governments in emerging markets and developing economies (including Turkey) will make intense efforts to accelerate the rollout and adoption of zero-emission vehicles[5]. Market actors are also acting in line with these commitments. As a matter of fact, according to the August automotive sales figures in the European market, which were published recently, the sales of electric cars exceeded the sales of diesel cars for the first time since 2017. Figures from 26 European countries show that diesel sales have now dropped drastically, with electric vehicles (hybrid, electric and cable hybrid) steadily increasing their sales figures[6].

This global interest in electric vehicles should be interpreted as a reflex for sustainable development and economy. This area of law and compliance is doomed to lag behind unless it seeks adequate answers and remedies for the needs of rapidly developing fields. Based on this need, the authorities in Turkey have also developed various regulations and standards, albeit in a dispersed form, regarding developing electric vehicles and their components.

Similar to all devices and vehicles operating with a battery, electric vehicles need to be charged in order to operate. Electric vehicles can be charged at houses with standard sockets as well as charging stations in multiple locations such as shopping mall parking lots, gas stations, etc. While charging a vehicle to 100% at home requires a long time, roughly 8-10 hours, most vehicles are charged up to 80% in approximately 30 minutes at charging stations. At this point, the installation and the operation of charging stations must be legally regulated. In addition, it is necessary to determine the rights and obligations of the operators and the transactions regarding the supply of electrical energy through these stations and the transfer of these stations through sales, leasing, and similar means. Below, insights into the Turkish legislation developed to date on charging stations for electric vehicles and the steps that Turkish authorities plan to take in the future are shared.

Chronological Order of Turkish Regulations on Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

2013 – Regulation Amending the Type Zoning Regulation for Planned Areas numbered 28759

The very first legal regulation regarding the structuring of charging infrastructure is the Regulation Amending the Type Zoning Regulation for Planned Areas, enacted in 2013 by the Ministry of the Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change. Pursuant to its Article 25 amending Article 40/3: “In order to charge the vehicles operating with electric energy, electric vehicle charging stations can be constructed in parking lots, gas stations or other appropriate locations with the relevant electric institution’s opinion in favour.”

Pursuant to this article, electric vehicle charging stations can be constructed without the necessity to alter a construction plan. However, there are two issues with this article; one is that the term “relevant electric institution” had not been defined in any legislation and in practice, it leads to ambiguity. [7] Secondly, the criteria for obtaining an opinion in favor of the relevant institution is not made clear. Therefore, on what grounds an opinion in favor will be given is a matter of debate.

2014 – Regulation on Electricity Market Distribution numbered 28870

In 2014, Regulation on Electricity Market Distribution was prepared in accordance with the Law on Electricity Market numbered 6446. According to Article 5/2 of this regulation, regarding connection applications made by users, an electric project consisting of fast, medium and slow speed charging units installed in order to charge electric vehicles, should be presented to the relevant electricity distribution company. Within the scope of this project, the company may request additional information.

2017 – The Draft Procedures and Principles regarding Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

In 2017, the Draft Procedures and Principles regarding Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (the “Draft”) was released for public consultation, however, it has not been enacted since then. Pursuant to Article 1 of the Draft titled “The Purpose and the Scope”, the purpose of its procedures and principles is to determine the rights and obligations of the operators concerning the installation and operation of charging stations, their sale, lease and transfer, and the supplying of electric energy by virtue of these stations. Pursuant to paragraph 2 of this Article, all charging stations that are located in public places and are engaged in commercial activities fall under the scope of these procedures and principles. It should once more be underlined that this text remains as a draft and is not in force as of today.

2018 – Parking Lot Regulation numbered 30340

One of the most concrete regulations in respect to charging stations resides in the Parking Lot Regulation. Pursuant to Article 6/5 of this regulation, at least one of every 50 parking spaces in regional & general parking lots and the parking lots of shopping malls shall be arranged in accordance with electric vehicles and should include a charging unit. Moreover, administrations may decide on increasing the number of electric vehicle parking lot spaces, based on need.

2019 – 2020-2023 National Smart City Strategy and Action Plan

The Ministry of the Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change stated in 2019 that, in accordance with the aim to expand the electric vehicle charging station network pursuant to Directive numbered 2014/94, the issue of installation and expansion of stations will also be evaluated within the scope of 2020-2023 National Smart City Strategy and Action Plan.

2019 – Regulation on Increasing Energy Efficiency in Transportation

This Regulation on Increasing Energy Efficiency in Transportation numbered 30762, issued by the Ministry of Communications, contributes to the aim of charging station expansion as well. Below are the relevant articles:

Pursuant to Article 6/10 of this regulation; municipalities, in order to promote alternative energy systems in transportation, shall establish infrastructure plans to ensure that electric vehicles can be charged on parking lots, streets and avenues, in line with the relevant legislations in the electricity market, and shall ensure that this infrastructure is established.

Pursuant to Article 9/6 of the regulation; electric car charging stations shall be installed in car parks in accordance with relevant legislations in the electricity market and services shall be provided in order to maintain free of charge or affordably priced vehicle charging.

2020- Law on the Establishment of the Turkish Environment Agency and Amendment of Certain Laws

With the amendment by the Law on the Establishment of the Turkish Environment Agency and Amendment of Certain Laws published in the Official Gazette dated 30 December 2020 and numbered 31350, the phrase "incentive of non-motorized or electric vehicles" has been added to the subparagraph (h) of the first paragraph of Article 3 of the Environmental Law, following the phrase "encouragement of clean technologies".

Here, the legislator has clearly shown its aims to prevent environmental pollution, contribute to the protection, improvement and development of green areas, and increase resource efficiency in line with the circular economy and zero waste approach.

2021- Economic Reforms Action Plan

In the Economic Reforms Package announced by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance on 23 March 2021, targets regarding electric vehicles were also included among the action plans that Turkey attaches importance to for the future. It is planned that these targets will be implemented by the end of 2021 with relevant ministries making legislative preparations The Ministries and Institutions responsible for these targets are generally listed as the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, the Energy Market Regulatory Authority, the Ministry of Industry and Technology, and the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change.

The action target for which the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change is responsible is to encourage the use of electric vehicles in public transport fleets and service vehicles. It is planned to make regulation in this regard by Presidential Decision. Another target that has been determined is the implementation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Industry and Technology are responsible for this target. It is planned to enact Laws, Presidential Decisions and Secondary Legislations on the subject. Finally, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Energy Market Regulatory Authority have undertaken the goal of completing the legal basis for the establishment of electrical energy storage facilities. In this direction, it is planned that the relevant institutions will issue secondary legislation.

2021- Regulation on the Amendment of the Parking Lot Regulation

With the Regulation on Amendment of the Parking Lot Regulation, published in the Official Gazette dated 25 March  2021 and numbered 31434, an amendment was made to the Parking Lot Regulation prepared by the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change in 2018. According to this amendment, it is now required for at least 5% of the construction permit applications for new buildings with a compulsory parking lot of 20 or more should be arranged in accordance with electric vehicles, including charging units. In addition, at least 10% of the parking lots in new public car parks and shopping mall car parks should be arranged in accordance with the relevant standards for electric vehicles. Lastly, one unit in shopping mall car parks larger than 30 thousand square meters and at least two units in shopping mall car parks larger than 75 thousand square meters are required to comply with fast charging capacity. This regulation, which has only partially entered into force, has expanded and increased the number of parking spaces of new buildings in the areas where electric vehicle parking will be located.

2021- The Regulation on the Amendment of Workplace Opening and Operation License Regulation

With the Regulation on the Amendment of Workplace Opening and Operation License Regulation published in the Official Gazette dated 17 April 2021 and numbered 31457, various changes were introduced for electric vehicle charging stations. Accordingly, if an electric vehicle charging station operator is different from the current workplace operator, a separate workplace opening and operation license will be required for the electric vehicle charging station. Also, provided that they are all within the borders of the same authorized administration, vehicle charging units located in places other than the independently installed vehicle charging station address, and which can be managed remotely or on-site by the station and located in places deemed appropriate by the authorized administration, will be stated in the license issued for the vehicle charging station and a single license will be issued for the station and all units.

2021- Turkish Standards Institute (TSE) Standards

Two separate standards for electric vehicles and charging systems were published by the Turkish Standards Institute (“TSE”), in May and November of 2021, respectively. The first standard was called "Electric Vehicles and Electric Vehicle Charging Systems - Basic Terms and Definitions", which homogenizes the basic terms and definitions used in relation to electric vehicles and charging systems. The second standard, named "Electric Vehicle Charging Units and Stations - Installation and Safety Requirements", became the first regulation to standardize the technical criteria for the safe installation of electric charging stations in Turkey. Although the Ministry of Treasury and Finance announced these regulations, the standards are not publicly accessible.

2021- The Draft Law on the Amendment of Certain Laws

The Draft Law on the Amendment of Certain Laws (the “Draft Law”), which includes the provisions regarding charging activities, was accepted on 16 November 2021 by the Industry and Trade Commission of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The Draft Law amends the Electricity Market Law numbered 6446 with the addition of a new section titled "Charging Service" and sets the scene providing basic principles regarding the charging activities for electric vehicles (“EV”), including the establishment of the necessary technical infrastructure and legal infrastructure for charging stations.

The Draft Law requires issuance of secondary legislation – this being regulations - by the related authority – the Energy Market Regulatory Authority of Turkey (“EPDK”) - within three months and that those who are already engaged in charging service activities must comply with the secondary legislation within four months from the effective date.

The charging services will be subject to licenses (“charging network operator license”) issued by EPDK. The license will be issued to legal persons – incorporated as a joint stock company or a limited liability company – operating the charging network. Charging stations will not be subject to separate licenses.

The holder of a charging network operator license will have the right to establish or operate a charging station connected to the charging network that it has established or may establish throughout the country or in the region specified in its license, and to conclude a loyalty agreement with EV users.

According to the Draft Law, the obligations of the charging network operator license holder are determined as follows:

  • To provide continuous, uninterrupted and qualified charging service at charging stations connected to the charging network;
  • To make charging service accessible to all electric vehicles;
  • To determine and implement the charging service price and the conditions of access to the charging service of EV in accordance with the procedures and principles to be published by EPDK;
  • Not to charge any fee other than the charging service fee in return for the charging service;
  • To establish the necessary management, inspection and registration system in order to ensure the interoperability of charging stations;
  • To make notifications in accordance with the procedures and principles to be published by EPDK, to ensure the necessary integration for the free access platform, to provide the information and documents requested by EPDK.

The charging service price shall be determined freely within the principles and procedures to be published by EPDK. When determining the price, competition rules, costs, duties such as taxes and as well as the principle of reasonable profitability shall be taken into account.

Detailed conditions shall be determined by EPDK for the charging network operator license, including the terms, duration, price, rights and obligations of the license, restriction of activities, numerical limits, and the obligation to establish a station. According to the announcement made by EPDK, the plan is to have a fully effective legal infrastructure – including the enactment of the Draft Law - in the first half of 2022.

Conclusion

In line with all the regulations; for the launch of an EV charging station, the current legislation in Turkey requires (i) issuance of a workplace opening and operating license, to be issued by municipalities, (ii) compliance with provisions of the Parking Areas Regulation, setting the rates and numbers of charging stations, (iii) compliance with technical standards issued by the Turkish Standards Institution in 2021, which is also sought by municipalities while issuing workplace opening and operating licenses.

There is no doubt that in order to increase the demand in EV sales, the EV charging station network must be expanded. Yet, for this expansion to be put into practice, the legal framework where rights, obligations, procedures and principles are regulated, must be enacted. Today’s Turkey lacks comprehensive legislation in this context, however, efforts are continuing in Turkey, as in the rest of the world.

 

[2] A European Green Deal https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en

[3] Mc Kinsey Electric Vehichle Index: Europe cushions a global plunge in EV sales https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/our-insights/mckinsey-electric-vehicle-index-europe-cushions-a-global-plunge-in-ev-sales

[6] Elektrikli otomobil satışları ilk kez Dizel’i yakaladı https://www.tehad.org/2021/10/05/elektrikli-otomobil-satislari-ilk-kez-dizeli-yakaladi/

[7] https://www.tehad.org/2021/02/14/sarj-istasyonlarinin-turkiye-ve-dunyadaki-hukuki-duzenlemeleri/