During the multi-million dollar refurbishment of Leinster House, Eamon Ryan took one look at the four new electric car charging stations and explained that they wouldn’t be enough. Not for the first time in his political career, the environment minister was ignored.
Yesterday, three years later, he told a gathering of representatives from transport, government and the automotive industry: “I was talking to Ceann Comhairle the other day and he said to me, ‘We don’t have enough charging points.'”
He resisted an “I told them so” wise, for the anecdote from the Corridors of Power could be retold along highway corridors across the country.
Eamon Stack of the EV Owners Association painted a picture of little hell when he described how in last weekend’s heat he had to wait two hours for his turn to charge at Barack Obama Plaza, Co. Offaly.
Denis Murphy of Blackwater Motors in Kerry spoke of missed opportunities to ferry tourists in electric vehicles along the Wild Atlantic Way due to a lack of charging stations.
Wicklow County Council’s Breege Kilkenny spoke of grants for local authorities to install public charging points, but these could not be accessed because they could not get electricity connections.
“We don’t have enough” was the general cry.
Don’t worry, ZEVI is here. ZEVI, or Zero Emission Vehicles Ireland, is a new office at the Department for Transport which Ryan says will be tasked with boosting the spread of electric vehicles and the development of the infrastructure to support them.
It’s quite a task. The climate protection plan aims to have 945,000 electric vehicles on the roads by 2030. So far there are 60,000 and many obstacles to further introduction. Price, supply bottlenecks, lack of used models, long lead times for new orders and a lack of charging points at private, municipal and commercial level speak against a potential switch.
Petrol stations are private companies that cannot be forced to provide chargers; public chargers make no money for the authorities that provide them; and many people live in apartments or houses without driveways where electric vehicles cannot be plugged in overnight.
According to minister and ZEVI head Aoife O’Grady, there are plans to work with chargers, encourage them, give aid or otherwise support them, or require chargers to be installed.
“The idea is that you can go anywhere with confidence — that there’s somewhere at the end of a peninsula to charge,” Ryan said.
To increase EV sales, ZEVI is said to work with businesses and leasing companies to encourage them to switch to EVs, with the knock-on effect of serving a hungry used car market as they renew their fleet every few years.
Grants and relief, currently amounting to around €9,000 on a €40,000 EV, will continue, but not indefinitely.
That’s shaking up the auto industry, which already finds the annual uncertainty about which measures will stay or cut on budget day, making pre-ordering a gamble.
ZEVI expects that in about three years, 175,000 electric vehicles will be on the road and the market will develop its own momentum, and then financial supports can be phased out. Ultimately there will be no choice but to buy electric cars as the EU plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, although here the government wants to do it by 2030, according to the regulations and a clear route has yet to be found. )
In any case, there are no plans to replace every car currently on the road with an electric vehicle. The goal is fewer cars.
Traffic was the only tiny bright spot in the dismal annual greenhouse gas data released yesterday.
Emissions from transport have increased over the past year but are still below pre-Covid 2019 levels, so it is clear that a significant number of people are still working from home, using public transport, cycling or walking.
The data for this year might be different, but if there is even a hint of a trend towards less car use and fewer cars, ZEVI wants to encourage it.
Sharing is the way forward, Mr Ryan said. To avoid leaving an expensive machine idle 95 percent of the time, to eliminate the temptation to drive it on foot, and to reduce demand for rare earth metals, carpooling, shared cars and sharing apps should be encouraged. such a series of wheels can be summoned with a swipe across the screen.
Access, not ownership, is key. He didn’t offer Leinster House as a good place to start, but since they share power, sharing seats shouldn’t be much of a challenge.
https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/eamon-ryan-aims-to-turbocharge-uptake-of-electric-vehicles-but-long-term-goal-of-government-is-fewer-cars-41859315.html Eamon Ryan wants to accelerate EV adoption, but the government’s long-term goal is fewer cars