The medium and long-term future of service stations seems increasingly remote from fossil fuels, but in the short term they cannot ignore a more ‘patronized reality
As of the year 2040, new vehicles (excluding commercial ones) will not be able to emit carbon dioxide, according to the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law. In addition, the law also contemplates the installation of electric recharging points “in service stations with the highest sales volume”; a total of 10% of the network. The medium and long-term future of service stations seems increasingly remote from fossil fuels, but in the short term, without forgetting the patronized present, they cannot ignore reality. While down the road, gas stations look for ways to survive and adapt so as not to fall into obsolescence. And it goes through both electric pumps and selling gourmet oil.
“In this sector, we are selling practically everything: we have become restaurateurs, we have put up hotels and Amazon and Post Office lockers,” he summarizes by phone. Jorge de Benito, President of the Spanish Confederation of Service Station Employers (CEEES).
“At the moment we are the most similar to the peddler’s shop in Western movies, in which there was from a frying pan to a saucepan passing through a rifle and bullets,” jokes Benito, who admits that fuel ” it is not one of the first sources of resources for a service station. ”
Manuel Garcia Pozo, responsible for the Repsol service station downtown area, also believes that “they are going to force us all to innovate”. In his case, he does it from the Alberto Aguilera 9 gas station in Madrid. Halfway between the traditional station, the Apple Store, and even Starbucks. The franchise coffee, in fact, is available in a store that has the usual products and a selection of higher quality (oils, wines, or almonds, for example). All of this can be enjoyed in a space with chargers and WiFi on the second floor after paying with your mobile using Wallet.
“Today there are multiple agreements,” explains García Pozo. Disney, Sun Planet, Once, El Corte InglÃ © s … Some are temporary, specific promotions at certain times – “people ask us when the glasses come back“, says the manager,” while others, such as El Corte InglÃ © s, are more constant. Currently, in Repsol’s 414 Stop & Go stores you can find some 95,000 references of products from these stores.
These changes, in part, are the consequence of being part of a sector that is undergoing remodeling, but it was also a trend that had been noticed for a long time. “Being multi-energetic invites you to say ‘my end is not the product, it is the customer,'” says GarcÃa Pozo. “If the electrical part is being developed, we are continuing to develop the electrical part; if the world of transportation needs to integrate natural gas, we are developing liquefied and compressed natural gas,” he adds.
In addition, within the framework of evolution, some of their gas stations are also opting for the renewable side for their own power, with solar panels, and recently they launched Solidify, a self-consumption solution for individuals and companies.
For his part, de Benito considers that “we have done our homework” and recalls that they have been “four or five years” working at “the gas station of the future”. In any case, despite the government’s message “that the star vehicle is going to be electric”, it believes that right now it is impossible, for example, “to go from Santander to CÃ¡diz without going through Madrid” . They prefer to bet on electric vehicles with hydrogen and natural gas. And that without forgetting the hydrocarbons: “although it is not ‘cool’ to say that the hydrocarbon will continue, it will continue yes or yes”. “We are in the line of the electric, but we are not in the line that the electric is going to be the only vehicle and less in the current model,” he sums up.
De Benito also regrets the “perfect storm” that the sector will have to face in the coming years, when they will have to adapt their tanks and pipes to a new environmental regulation (ITC-04) that, from his point of view, “it could be supplied in another way.” “We are going to have to make millionaire investments”, he continues, “which we are not going to amortize because they are telling us that this is over.” And the other storm is that of the electric pumps.
Climate Change Law
The Climate Change and Ecological Transition law provide that the stations with the highest volume have chargers for electric vehicles. However, de Benito believes that “the market has to regulate itself”, since he considers that “you cannot force a market to make investments in a sales format that is not going to be amortized anyway.” In any case, he admits that this step could be “incentivized” with aid.
The problem, he explains, is that currently, the highest concentration of sales is “in the gas stations of the capitals where there is little competition around” and “on the border with France, at the truck crossings.” In his opinion, none of them will attract potential customers looking for chargers for electric vehicles, so the CEEES proposal is to meet with the responsible ministries to create “a series of strategic stations” throughout the country. Spanish.
With regard to a large gas station, García Pozo claims to have set a “more ambitious” objective than that of the Government itself: “a recharging point every 50 kilometers”. For this, of course, they get muscle, and here the biceps is their network of 3,400 stations, of which they manage the majority (there are also those managed by individuals under their brand and co-managed with El Corte InglÃ © s).
There is another important aspect on which both coincide: technological neutrality, for which Repsol “bets” and which the CEEES “has always asked for”. They consider that the final decision will be made by the client and society and that if they opt for electrical solutions, they will have to adapt to them.
Up to 400,000 euros of investment
The main problem with the installation of the charging stations is their high cost. If everything goes well, it is around 30,000 euros (not counting the expenses of the fixed term), but for an ultra-fast charging point (at least 50 kW) without a connection nearby (that is, there would be than to install a transformer), the figure can be put at 400,000 euros, according to Benito.
The good news is that it appears that the cost of fixed terms will decrease thanks to a proposal for a circular from the CNMC. “If I want to increase the loading speed, the main problem would be that I don’t have more power, so I have to hire more and fixed terms, and I’m talking about my business costs increasing by 20,000 euros per year. or not to sell anything, “the businessman argues.
Thus, gas stations are evolving while they wait for a future that is already present (and without forgetting a past that is still present) to arrive. Meanwhile, they will continue to be hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, and, in the case of Alberto Aguilera station, even workspace for those who load their car.