New EV charger funding scheme ‘lacks ambition’

Published by Niall Sargent on

August 26th, 2019

The State has announced new funding support for local authorities to roll out a new stream of 1,000 on-street public charging points for electric vehicles over the next five years.

The move, however, was quickly criticised by the Green Party as lacking ambition in its scale and for not providing full funding to cover the total cost of each charging point.

The plan will see the Department for Climate Action (DCCAE) provide up to 75 per cent of the cost up to maximum of 5,000 euro per charge point.

The scheme will provide funding for a maximum of 200 on-street charging points per year in a bid to boost charging numbers across the country. No new charging points have been installed in Dublin since 2016, for example.

Under the scheme, charge points may be located where public parking is provided on-street or in Local Authority car parks and may be integrated with street lighting in a single lamppost.

The Government also plans to introduce regulations that would require non-domestic buildings with over 20 car parking spaces to install charging facilities.

Transport spokesperson for the Green Party, Councillor Patrick Costello, said that the move is a “small step in the right direction” but isn’t ambitious enough to match our European counterparts.

Norway – often carted out as the world’s leader for electric take-up – already has over 12,000 charge points. In this light, Cllr Costello said, our Government should aim for 10,000 charge points. The ESB currently has just over 1,100 charging points in the island of Ireland.

He said, however, that the decision to provide only 75 per cent of funding to Councils will “seriously hamper the rollout” and is an example of Government “setting up councils to fail”.

Electric car charging at ESB charger Photo: ESB
Electric car charging at ESB charger Photo: ESB

Infrastructure must improve

The new scheme is the latest in a string of grants and supports in a bid to bring down sales of petrol and diesel vehicles and provide a much-needed boost to the charging network required for the State to have a chance of hitting its ambitious target of having over 900,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030.

There are currently 2.1 million passenger cars on Irish roads, 93 per cent of which are fuelled by petrol and diesel. Numbers on the roads are expected to climb to between 2.3 and 2.6 million by 2030.

Between January and August 2019, 5,000 extra electric vehicles on the road bringing the total to over 12,500 for both plug-in hybrid and fully electric. Research carried out by Cornwall Insight Ireland for the first six months of the year show that petrol hybrids accounted for the majority of sales.

Despite the launch of Europe’s first cross-border fast charger network in 2013, Irish e-vehicle drivers still face numerous challenges today, including lack of charging points in some parts of the country, long charging queues and broken down charging points.

An attempt by the Minister for Transport Shane Ross TD to hit back at charging critics backfired yesterday after he posted a now-deleted photo on social media of himself at a charging point in Marley Park with the caption: “Who said that there is a shortage of chargers for electric cars? Look what I found in sunny Marlay Park this morning!”.

Local group Dundrum Info, however, quickly replied that the charger has not been turned on since it was installed in May. “Just so nobody gets stranded, please be aware that neither of the charge points in Marlay Park is yet operational,” the group said.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has since confirmed that neither charging point is currently operational as it is currently waiting for the ESB to assign a Meter Point Reference Number. Mr Ross apologised earlier today for “jumping the gun”.

Transport emissions shortfall

The continued dominance of the internal combustion engine on Irish roads means that transport is the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions in Ireland, accounting for 39 per cent of the share in 2017.

Emissions in the sector are rising fast, and are projected to grow until at least 2022, even with relatively high fuel prices and electric vehicle uptake as proposed in the State’s climate plans.

According to the EPA, emissions from the sector are estimated to decrease by only one per cent between 2018 and 2030, where emissions will be almost 12 Mt CO2 eq.

The sector is a key factor in Ireland’s high Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) rates, with levels along the M50 motorway, the entrance to and exit from the Dublin Port Tunnel, and some city centre streets exceeding EU safety limits.

People with asthma, as well as children and the elderly, are typically more susceptible to adverse health effects of NO2, which includes emphysema and other respiratory issues.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London