Gas stations and the energy transition

New needs, new opportunities

Our climate is changing. In the past century, the average temperature on earth has increased by 1°C. In addition, the sea level has risen by almost 20 centimeters and we are experiencing more and more extreme weather. In order to reduce further global warming and its consequences for people and the environment as much as possible, the European Union and all its member states signed a climate agreement in Paris in 2015. A key objective in this Climate Agreement is to put an end to the use of fossil fuels.

“The transition to sustainable and carbon-neutral energy sources is necessary and widely supported, but will not be settled overnight. This was also demonstrated recently at the international climate summit in Glasgow,” says Hugo Jongebreur, Commercial Director BeNeLux at Bever Innovations, Fuel Division. “For example, the final declaration on fossil fuels and stopping coal was watered down at the last minute from ‘stop’ to ‘reduce’. Not surprising, since our society is still largely dependent on these fuels today.”

Big implications

The energy transition has major implications for oil and gasoline companies, among others, he emphasizes. “Particularly in Western Europe, we are very ambitious in our goals. Flanders, for example, will ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines from 2029. New cars here may only be powered by electric motors in 7 years. And in the Netherlands too, numerous initiatives are being taken to stimulate electric driving.” Through a Green Deal, for example, our central government and the Formula E-Team want to achieve that in 2025 50% of newly sold cars are equipped with an electric powertrain and plug. But also that at least 30% of them are fully electric. “A nice ambition, but our infrastructure has to be able to handle this,” Jongebreur said. “Moreover, we should not underestimate the influence of our existing vehicle fleet.”

In recent years, the Dutch vehicle fleet increased from over 7.9 million passenger cars at the end of 2012 to over 8.7 million at the end of 2020. The share of electric cars rose from 1.5% in 2019 to 3% in 2021, meaning that many fuel-fired cars are still being sold. “Based on an average car life of 12 years, these cars are far from disappearing from our streets. In fact, the average private car owner drives a car that is about 10 years old. We therefore expect traditional fuels such as gasoline and diesel to remain available at the pump for a long time to come. In addition, the demand for alternative fuels (CNG, LNG, hydrogen and electric) will increase. Petrol stations will have to anticipate this, so that their business will still be profitable in 10 years’ time. Within Bever Innovations, we are explicitly looking at how we can support customers in this transition.”

Communicating (new) fuels easily and quickly

One of the examples in this context is the Bever InMotion (InMo) LED screen, which replaces traditional price signs. “On the dynamic LED screen, administrators and/or (technical) staff can easily add and/or change fuels. Also remotely,” says Jongebreur. “Thanks to a direct Fuel-POS link, the most current prices are always displayed, just like Bever Innovations does with the price displays. In addition, petrol stations can use the LED screen to communicate flexibly with customers. Which new fuels have been added? And what can customers expect in the short term? Are there any interesting promotions in the shop? Because the shop will also become increasingly important.”

A Dutch local client of Bever Innovations even makes its InMo LED screen available to the local businesses, who can advertise on the LED screen for a small fee. This generates additional income for the gas station, allowing a faster return on investment.

Local cloud server

Recently, the functionalities of the InMo LED screen have been further improved, making sharing of content even more flexible. Moreover, all screen content has recently been stored locally on Bever Innovations’ secure cloud server in Zierikzee (NL), says Jongebreur. This is also where Bever Innovations’ EOS network, in which all Bever LED products can communicate wirelessly, runs. Think for example of the canopy lighting, area lighting and shop lighting. “Thanks to this new service, customers can now get all their Bever LED products from one central location. The EOS technology not only ensures optimal coordination between the LED products, but also has a monitoring function. Administrators and/or (technical) staff can see at a glance whether the products are functioning properly, what prices and actions are displayed at any time and whether there have been any unexpected malfunctions, so that immediate action can be taken.”

Conversion and assembly work by specialists

“In order to keep enough work for our mechanics and to keep the schedule full, we have carried out a lot of refitting and assembly work at petrol stations under our own management in the past,” emphasizes Jongebreur. “As of 2022, we don’t want to do that anymore. We no longer want to compete with companies and customers that specialize in this. From now on, our technicians will focus entirely on providing the very best technical service. After all, having and keeping our products in good working order is of great importance. Both for us and for the owners of the petrol stations”