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Joint Committee on Transport and Communications debate -
Wednesday, 13 Jul 2022

Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy: Discussion

The purpose of today's meeting is to discuss the Government's draft electric vehicle charging infrastructure strategy. On behalf of the committee, I am pleased to welcome Dr. Aoife O'Grady, principal officer, and Ms Patricia Waller, assistant principal, from the Department of Transport. From the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, I welcome Mr. Declan Meally, director of business, and Mr. Graham Brennan, programme manager. From the ESB, I welcome Ms Suzanne Ward, interim executive director, and Mr. John Byrne, head of ESB e-cars.

Witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable, or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of the person or entity. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory in respect of an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction.

Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I also remind members of the constitutional requirement that they be physically present within the confines of the Leinster House complex to participate in public meetings. I will not permit members to participate where they are not adhering to this constitutional requirement. Therefore, any member who attempts to participate from outside the precincts will be asked to leave the meeting. In this regard, I ask any member participating via Microsoft Teams to confirm that they are on the grounds of the Leinster House campus prior to making their contribution. Members attending in the committee room are asked to exercise personal responsibility to protect themselves and others from the risk of contracting Covid-19.

I invite Dr. O'Grady to make her opening statement on behalf of the Department of Transport.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I thank the Chair and committee members for the opportunity to outline the Department of Transport’s draft national electric vehicle, EV, charging infrastructure strategy for the years 2022-2025. I am principal officer of the climate delivery division, which is part of the new climate action pillar established in the Department in the past 12 months. I am joined this afternoon by my colleague Ms Patricia Waller. In the climate delivery division, Ms Waller and I work on facilitating the transition to electric vehicles in Ireland.

The Climate Action Plan 2021 has set a high ambition for the electrification of transport, with a target of almost 1 million electric vehicles on Irish roads in 2030, including private cars, small public service vehicles, light and heavy goods vehicles and larger public transport vehicles. The Government strategy to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in Ireland involves two main elements. First is incentivising the purchase of electric vehicles through both financial supports and regulation and second is the provision of a high-quality, seamless electric vehicle charging infrastructure. There has been significant investment from the private sector in delivering EV charging infrastructure in Ireland and this has been critical in supporting the uptake of electric vehicles to date. However, in anticipation of much-needed step change increase in electric vehicle ownership, it is appropriate and necessary for the Government to set a framework and national plan for the provision of Ireland’s EV charging infrastructure.

In this light, the Department developed a draft EV charging infrastructure strategy and issued it for public consultation in March of this year. The strategy considers the different charging needs of urban and rural communities, as well as the need for a just transition to EVs in Ireland. In developing principles to underpin the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure, the strategy takes into account the anticipated trajectory of EV uptake and the increasing demand that will be placed on electricity distribution networks through the electrification of transport. Currently, the majority of EV charging, about 80%, is done at home. Access to and installation of home charging infrastructure is relatively well established in Ireland. A more significant gap exists in the provision of publicly accessible charging infrastructure, the demand for which will grow as EV uptake increases. The strategy identifies four main categories of charging infrastructure, all serving different user needs depending on where and when people need to charge their EVs. The first category is home charging or multi-resident unit or apartment charging. It is expected that this will be the default charging option for the vast majority of people living in Ireland.

This type of charging will be standard, requiring a number of hours for a vehicle's battery to be 80% charged. The strategy proposes that off-peak or night-time charging should be encouraged to ease demand on the grid. The strategy also proposes promoting shared charging solutions. This would be an Airbnb-type system for home chargers, whereby the owner would rent out his or her home charger, typically via a third-party app. For people who do not have the access or the space to install their own home charging solutions, the strategy proposes that residential or neighbourhood charging solutions are developed in higher density residential areas. These would replicate the home charging solution by providing standard and, preferably, off-peak charging options. This concept has been successfully delivered in cities such as London, Oslo and Amsterdam to support the uptake of electric vehicles.

A variety of top-up charging solutions are then also needed for people who need to charge their batteries while on the go. These solutions include destination charging, which involves a faster charge at a trip location or destination, taking typically between one to three hours to charge, depending on the duration of the visit, and en-route charging, which would more or less replicate the current forecourt refuelling option used by internal combustion engine vehicle drivers. En-route charging will be in locations where the only purpose is to refuel, that is, there is no other reason for stopping there. Therefore, en-route charging infrastructure needs to be at the highest charge power capacities. Ideally, a charge at these locations should not take more than ten to 20 minutes, and that time will even come down in future years.

The strategy also sets out a high-level plan for the delivery of charging infrastructure over the coming years, with key delivery groups proposed to take forward the implementation of the strategy. As well as publicly accessible charging infrastructure, there will be a need to consider charging infrastructure for niche sectors such as the electric small public service vehicle, eSPSV, sector and for the piloting of EV charging infrastructure for heavy goods vehicles.

A key element of the delivery plan is the establishment of an office called zero-emission vehicles Ireland, ZEVI, which will be launched next week and will co-ordinate the implementation of the EV infrastructure strategy and the delivery of EV charging infrastructure. The office will be based in the Department of Transport and supported and resourced by colleagues in a number of agencies, including the SEAI; Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII; the National Transport Authority, NTA; and ESB Networks.

We were very pleased with the level of engagement with the strategy through the public consultation, with over 13,000 responses to the online survey. One hundred stakeholders participated in two half-day strategy workshops, and we received about 60 detailed written submissions to the strategy. The consultation responses are being reviewed, and we expect a revised strategy to be published alongside an implementation plan by the end of this year.

Finally, I should note that electric vehicle technology is changing rapidly, with new technologies being developed and introduced to the market at speed. In this fast-changing context, while the overall trajectory of action is clear, predicting the specifics of charge point types and interfaces that will be available by the end of this decade is less so. For that reason, while the strategy sets out the long-term structures and frameworks that will be put in place to deliver a comprehensive national EV charging network, the detail in the strategy relating to infrastructure delivery is mainly focused on the years from now until 2025. In 2025 the strategy will be reviewed, with an updated strategy published for the years from 2026 to 2030. That will review progress to date and reassess and refine the provisions, initiatives and funding pathways for future delivery. We look forward to continuing our work in this area. I am happy to take or to share any questions with my colleague.

We now turn to Mr. Meally for his opening statement on behalf of the SEAI.

Mr. Declan Meally

I thank you, Chair, and joint committee members for the invitation to attend the meeting today and to discuss the Government's draft EV charging infrastructure strategy. I am joined by my colleague, Mr. Graham Brennan, the programme manager for EV charging infrastructure. I thank the committee for affording me the opportunity to present my opening statement.

The SEAI is at the forefront of delivering Ireland's energy revolution. We are funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department of Transport. We have had a major transformative impact on the Irish economy, and in the past decade our actions have underpinned more than €1.2 billion in energy savings. We are catalysts for action through our grant and incentive programmes and our capacity-building processes. Citizens, communities, businesses and other stakeholders are at the heart of everything we deliver.

Transport is the single largest source of energy-related emissions in Ireland, representing about 40% of energy-related emissions, equivalent to about 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions. While this decreased temporarily during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has since rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, despite even the dramatic fuel price increases in recent months. The majority of transport emissions come from road transport, approximately 50% from private car users and 25% from freight and commercial fleets, which is difficult to decarbonise due to the dominance of the combustion engine and its associated fuel supply infrastructure.

Since 2011 the SEAI has actively promoted the purchase of electric vehicles, including battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles but excluding hybrid electric vehicles, and the associated charging infrastructure in Ireland. Today we have over 60,000 EVs on our roads, representing about 2.7% of our total car fleet. The annual sales rate of EVs has grown massively in 2022, representing 21%, or one in five, of all new car sales, up from 13% for the same period last year. Demand for EVs is high all across the EU and the UK, with six-month waiting lists not uncommon for prospective car buyers. If Ireland is to reach its target of 845,000 passenger EVs on the roads by 2030, representing 40% of the total car fleet, the EV sales rate will need to reach 100% of all new cars before the end of the decade. That will require determined investment in public charging infrastructure and efforts to provide charging facilities to the more difficult locations such as on-street, apartment and multi-unit development-type locations. The SEAI therefore welcomes the publication of the draft EV charging infrastructure strategy by the Department of Transport.

We are providing insights and expertise to our colleagues in the Department of Transport to assist the development of the EV charging infrastructure strategy and we look forward to the finalisation and delivery of the strategy as a key part of the overall shift to zero-emissions transport. Adequate infrastructure is a key enabler of EV uptake in Ireland and can ensure that all vehicle users can complete their necessary journeys with confidence. Infrastructure must be installed across a range of locations, including private, commercial and public sites, and involves a range of parties, including planners, electricity operators and IT systems. The strategy aims to bring these interests together under one roof within the new ZEVI collaborative initiative under the Department of Transport. The SEAI is pleased to continue to provide its expertise and services to this group in order to deliver on the climate action plan.

The SEAI's work supports the delivery of the climate action plan and Ireland's emissions reduction targets, including transport actions to support businesses, the public sector, and citizens and communities on their transition to low-emissions transport solutions. The SEAI's work is integral to the achievement of major targets and policy objectives and includes promotion of EV uptake towards the national EV target by 2030 via grant support for private and commercial vehicles, information supports, interactive comparative tools, fleet guidance, dealer training and awards, transport energy awards, behavioural change campaigns and EV fleet trials. The national EV target is currently the largest contribution to transport emissions reductions in the Climate Action Plan 2021, with a projected 3.2 Mt CO2 attributed to the target. Promoting vehicle charging solutions availability to homes, businesses and public bodies via grant support for home chargers, apartment chargers, local authority chargers, and destination and community-based chargers is part of our remit. The SEAI's work also involves supporting efficiency and emissions reductions in the public transport fleet - that is, public transport, local authority and other public sector fleets - through our public sector programmes and through supporting business fleet electrification via guidance, case studies and grant support for vehicles and charging. Our work also involves supporting community low-emissions transport initiatives via our sustainable energy community network and community energy grants. The SEAI was a leading agency supporting the work of the low-emissions vehicles task force, which published numerous reports on key activities to drive the adoption of low-emissions vehicles in Ireland. The SEAI is also a member of the electric vehicle policy pathway working group, which presented its report to the Government in 2021. As part of that group, the SEAI behavioural economics team completed a study which outlined the EV customer journey and identified the barriers to be addressed, many of which have been actioned since the report was presented to the Government. The SEAI's work also involves delivering state-of-the-art energy modelling, policy analysis and advice and collating national energy statistics. We drive and support national energy research to support innovative research and development activities in support of national emissions reduction targets.

We passionately believe that the clean energy transition must happen urgently, and we stand ready to support all of Irish society on this journey.

EVs offer one of the most promising and accessible options for reducing tailpipe emissions from road vehicles. Importantly, with an ambition and capability of producing 80% of our electricity from our own renewable energy resources, we have the opportunity of removing our dependence on imported energy and stabilising our own transport energy costs into the future. Electrifying the transport fleet will complement the growth in renewable electricity by providing a mechanism to store the electricity and eventually provide electricity back to the network to provide support to the network when needed. Operating the number of electric vehicles desired by 2030 will require comprehensive and reliable charging infrastructure options and, importantly, will require intelligent management of vehicle charging via the home and via a smart grid. The SEAI is ready to support the deployment of this infrastructure, develop new tools and methods to maximise this opportunity and carefully guide the public with the necessary information to make their change to electric vehicles go as smoothly as possible. We thank our colleagues in the Department of Transport for their support for our transport programmes and close collaboration. I welcome discussion with the committee, and my colleague and I are happy to answer any questions members may wish to raise.

I thank Mr. Meally. I now invite Ms Ward to make her opening statement on behalf of the ESB.

Ms Suzanne Ward

I thank the committee for the opportunity to share the perspectives of ESB e-cars with it. The ESB's strategy, Driven to Make a Difference: Net Zero by 2040, sets out a clear roadmap for the ESB to achieve net zero emissions by 2040. It also commits the ESB to a science-based target for 2030 to provide assurance that we are decarbonising our operations at the necessary pace and scale. Our support of e-cars is one of the means we will use to help us achieve these goals. We are here to address the committee as representatives of ESB e-cars. Mr. John Byrne, head of e-cars joins me here today. We are mindful that the committee may have questions for ESB Networks on connections and related matters. As discussed with the secretariat, these will be addressed by ESB Networks directly in the coming months as we are not here to speak for ESB Networks.

I will give some background on ESB e-cars. The ESB established ESB e-cars in 2010. We believed that we could support the electrification of transport by seeding, developing and supporting the transition to electromobility. We recognised that charging infrastructure and support services would need to be in place to give citizens the confidence to purchase an electric vehicle. There was no onus on the ESB to provide the infrastructure, but it was a role we embraced given our commercial semi-State status and interest in supporting low-carbon technologies. ESB e-cars was established with three aims: to design and build an expanding public charging infrastructure for EVs across Ireland, thereby reducing the range anxiety that was an issue for early e-car drivers; to support the adoption of EVs in Ireland; and subsequently to stimulate demand for EVs nationally. In recent years, the demand for EVs has increased dramatically. Since ESB e-cars was established, we have expanded the network to provide ultra-reliable and fully interoperable EV charging with more than 1,350 public charge points servicing customers across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. There are three types of chargers on our network. The standard 22 kW is the most widely available charger on the network. They are geographically located so that an EV driver is always within 35 km of the nearest charger. These AC chargers will typically charge an electric vehicle in three to six hours depending on battery size. The fast charger is a 50 kW charger and we have approximately 150 of them. These are DC chargers and are substantially faster than the standard chargers. An 80% charge will typically take 45 minutes. The high-powered 150 kW chargers are located in hubs and are capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously. These units can provide the latest generation of EVs with 100 km of range in as little as six minutes. ESB e-cars is currently undertaking a €20 million investment programme to further expand and enhance the charging network across Ireland. The ESB qualified for €10 million in funding from the Climate Action Fund with the ESB matching the funding with a further €10 million. This comprehensive investment programme is expanding and enhancing the public charging network across Ireland to help to meet the expected growth in EVs in the coming years.

There are three different elements to the current investment programme. The first element is the replacement of 264 legacy standard AC chargers, and this is already 99% complete. The second element is the upgrade of 52 locations to provide fast charging; this is 75% complete and the remainder will be completed in 2023. The third element is to develop 52 high-power charging, HPC, hubs throughout Ireland, which can charge multiple vehicles simultaneously. This is a substantial component of the upgrade and will see 52 HPC hubs being constructed as we negotiate access to both motorway and national road sites.

Data-driven analytics help to identify and locate the most suitable sites for hubs. HPC hubs can charge up to eight vehicles simultaneously and can provide up to 100 km of electric driving range in as little as six minutes. To date, 18 hubs have been completed, with a further 11 in various stages of construction. We expect them to be completed in 2022, with the remainder to be completed in 2023. These works will significantly modernise and strengthen the charging network by upgrading all charging points in strategic locations to cater for all EVs, adding next-generation charging hubs to the network. We are committed to ensuring that our public charging network is reliable and that EV drivers have confidence in it. Since the commencement of our investment programme, our reliability rate has increased from 84% to an average of 98% this year.

ESB e-cars firmly believes that the transition to zero-carbon transport will require a whole-of-system approach. We need to see much more active travel - walking, cycling, etc. - and increased use of public transport. However, there is likely be a strong desire for cars given the particular demographics and geography of Ireland. Where this is the case, there are huge benefits in terms of both air quality and emissions from electric-powered vehicles. In addition to private transport, significant volumes of both light and heavy freight continue to operate in the country but will eventually need to be decarbonised. Electricity will therefore play an ever-increasing role here as battery performance improves and ever larger vehicles can be electrified. Therefore, in time, more charging infrastructure will be required to support Ireland to reach the target of almost 1 million EVs on the road by 2030, as reasserted in the Climate Action Plan 2021.

The first round of climate action funding has been instrumental in delivering additional charging locations, improved reliability, faster charging times for drivers and a substantial reduction in carbon emissions. The number of charging sessions on our system has tripled since the beginning of 2021 and we now reach approximately 70,000 sessions per month.

The ESB welcomes the recently published draft strategy, EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy 2022-2025. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in the workshops hosted by the Department of Transport and to input into the development of the strategy, as we are doing today. ESB e-cars fully supports the strategy. There is of course much work ahead to build on this important strategy, which we understand will be led by ZEVI, which is to be launched soon. We look forward to collaboration with other stakeholders on developing the implementation plan to support the high-level strategy. We note that while 80% of current EV charging is estimated to take place at home, this proportion will decrease over time as the EV fleet grows and the demographic of EV owners shifts. In excess of 70% of EV owners are customers of ESB e-cars and we undertake regular customer surveys of our customer base. The prioritisation of smart home charging from the end of 2022 represents a positive development and should, over time, help to alleviate pressure on the electricity grid at times of high demand. The visibility that EV drivers will have of their charging profiles and energy demand will be further improved through smart meters, which will allow all customers to view their energy consumption in half hourly intervals.

Destination charging is a complex topic with widely varying dwell times depending on the situation and location. The strategy must allow for a variety of charging approaches depending on the situation, which typically requires case-by-case analysis.

We welcome the statement that the new ZEVI office will place a renewed strategic focus on delivering high-powered public charge points in heavily trafficked areas and along key parts of the national road network. Based on our analysis, we have already seen that demand for higher speed top-up charging is increasing with a greater number of electric vehicles on the road. It is unclear from the strategy as to whether local fuel stations that are not located on primary or motorway routes will be included for future funding rounds nor is it clear whether they will be classified as destination or en route charging. There are several hundred petrol stations across Ireland so clarity would be welcome around the treatment of these locations and whether these assets will be included in future funding rounds.

ESB e-cars would like to work with all relevant stakeholders to accelerate the timeline for the development of a pathway for the delivery of high-powered en route charging infrastructure on the strategic road network. This is currently due for delivery in quarter 2 of 2023. Earlier certainty on the requirement for this critical infrastructure will in turn allow for more infrastructure to be delivered within the period of this strategy. The sooner we have the strategy, the sooner we can deliver on these goals.

Further clarity could be provided on the destination charging point schemes funding, including who is eligible to apply. In addition, while individual landowners can apply for grant funding and then choose to run and operate the sites on an individual basis, this would have obvious implications for interoperability across the network. ESB e-cars would welcome the opportunity to input into a set of key criteria for EV charging locations.

Ease of use and charge point interoperability will be a key enabler to mass adoption. Electronic payments should become the default option at all charging locations. EU regulations will likely require this in time.

We note that the ESB Networks’ Dingle Project was successful in assessing EV uptake and attitudes to EVs in rural areas. The findings from the study were particularly informative from an EV perspective. Of particular interest was that the average daily distance driven was approximately 80 km and the willingness of customers to embrace and harness the new EV technology made available under the trial. Our existing charger network in Kerry saw an increased utilisation during the trial period and led to the roll-out of additional high-powered charging hubs in County Kerry.

The working groups and taskforce outlined by the strategy form a key part of driving towards delivery. It is crucial to engage stakeholders from across the full spectrum of consumers, industry experts, original equipment manufacturers, and the public and private sectors. ESB e-cars and other charging point operators should be facilitated in each of the working groups as much as possible because much of the delivery learnings have been acquired by these companies in recent years.

Most of the supports mentioned in the strategy are primarily capital driven. While capital investment is most welcome and required by the industry, due consideration should also be given to providing early support to charge point operators to contain operating costs. The period between now and 2025 is a particularly challenging period while national demand for EVs grows. A moratorium on capacity costs at locations with high electrical capacity requirements should be explored and implemented where possible.

ESB has made a significant commitment over the past decade to support and encourage the transition to zero carbon transport and EVs on a universal basis. ESB e-cars has grown to become the leading provider of EV charging infrastructure across Ireland. We will continue to play a central role in the provision of ever faster, ultra-reliable charging infrastructure across Ireland over the next decade. The electrification of transport and empowering and supporting customers and communities to achieve net zero will remain a key component in ESB’s strategy and commitment over the next decade.

Mr. John Byrne and I are happy to address any questions that committee members may have at this time.

I thank Ms Ward. We will now move to members in the order they have offered. Some members have votes in the Seanad so I will move to the Deputies first and Deputy Joe Carey or Deputy Duncan Smith.

I thank the witnesses for coming in today and apologies for the delay in getting them in. Ms Ward is looking for clarity on the use of petrol stations that are not on motorway or main road locations. Would it be correct to make the leap that the ESB would recommend that any and all existing petrol stations of any reasonable size would be included in such a scheme? It would be my view that they would be included if we are to meet our targets of having only electric vehicles by 2030. Surely every current filling station would be turned over. I do not want to put words in Ms Ward's mouth but is that what ESB e-cars would be looking for?

Ms Suzanne Ward

Yes. We believe that this is an important infrastructure in the Irish community and that they would all be included in the strategy.

My next question is for any of the witnesses. What is the buy-in, the take-up or the relationship with the existing petrol filling stations? Do they see this as the future? Are they open to other organisations coming onto their campuses and installing these, or is there resistance? Are we even at that stage yet?

Ms Suzanne Ward

I will make a general comment on that and then I will hand over to my colleague, Mr. Byrne. At the moment the forecourts are seeing that EVs are going to be a really big and significant part of the future and their business models, therefore, will be different. We can see a lot of chargers already starting to be put in place on the forecourts. We have had engagement with some of those entities already. I will ask Mr. Byrne to comment further on the engagement so far.

Mr. John Byrne

Over the past two and a half years under the climate action fund we have seen an increasing willingness on the part of petrol fuel forecourt operators to engage with us around the provision of charging infrastructure and most noticeably this year as we have seen more and more electric vehicles on the roads. Mr. Meally has pointed out that nearly 3% of the population is now using electric vehicles. Encouragingly, we are now starting to see a lot of petrol station owners and operators moving EV charging points to more prominent positions on their campuses or on their sites, which is very welcome.

What role does Dr. O'Grady see for local authorities? What role are they playing in delivering on this strategy?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

We view local authorities as being some of our key partners in the delivery of the EV infrastructure strategy. There are a couple of reasons behind that, one of which is the need to provide EV charging infrastructure for people who do not have access to their own driveway. I would not anticipate that the rates would be quite as cheap as home charging but we want to be able to provide a slower charge at lower rates when people can charge at night so it does not become prohibitively expensive for them to charge their EV. Local authorities as road authorities in Ireland have control over that local and regional road network. That is step one where we see them being a key partner.

Step two is that local authorities themselves are often landowners and own land with significant public car parking space, whether that is municipal offices, leisure centres or libraries. We would see those types of publicly accessible car parks as being ideal locations for destination charging. We have identified in the strategy that we would anticipate working very closely with local authorities in rolling out that. In the context of the strategy we have identified that we would support local authorities through providing funding for them to identify what we would call a local area charging network. That could be done on a regional basis with a number of local authorities, or if there is one very large local authority they might do one just for them. That would identify the locations where one might have the neighbourhood charging and the destination charging in that local authority area. It would identify an implementation plan about the prioritisation and the series in which these would be rolled out. On that basis, we would have a sense of the right size and the right fit for EV chargers in that local authority area with regard to the public and State-owned lands.

Returning to step one, in my constituency and throughout the country, and particularly in housing estates that were built less than 20 years ago, homes would have no front gardens but would have parking bays at the front.

Many people feel excluded from getting on board with EVs. They have the money for the EVs but they cannot charge them. Is that being teased out - the bridging of what is essentially the width of a path - in terms of delivering that? Is the solution to have a communal place in these estates, or will we try to find a solution where charging can be done where the car is parked overnight?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

We will try to find a solution. It will not be a one-size-fits-all solution. In some estates where there is shared parking, there could be a little hub for people to use, which they could book through a private app for that estate. I live in Dublin city and I do not have access to a driveway, but I live on a road. That would not work for me as I do not live in an estate, but we would like to see some form of local charging within an area. The idea behind this is that people could park somewhere that does not have to be outside their house and is not too far of a walk. They could park their car, walk back to their house safely, leave their car charging overnight and pick it up in the morning without too much discomfort.

My next question is for the SEAI. How is the grant system for people to upgrade their charging systems in their homes working in practice? I hear good things about it but a couple of people who live in older houses with older wiring have come to me. While the grant will cover the visible charging station at the front, once you get in behind the bricks, it might require a major amount of rewiring that could cost a lot more money. Has there been any discussion in the SEAI about supporting people in upgrading the back-end electrical work that is needed for these chargers?

Mr. Declan Meally

I will allow my colleague to talk about the technical side and what we are looking at. The grant provides €600 towards the installation of the charger. There may be a need for upgrading in the home for various reasons. It might not be just because of the electric car. The authority on the safe operation of electricity in the home, Safe Electric, makes sure that chargers are only installed in safe situations. The grant is only for the charging infrastructure. It is not for upgrading the wiring because is not within the remit of the programme. Perhaps it is something that could be discussed in the future but it is not covered. There are varying costs, but a charger and its installation would cost in or around €800 to €1,000. The €600 grant goes towards the cost of that. The need for upgrading and additional wiring varies across different homes. The cost of that varies depending on the age of the home.

If I could step back in terms of the first questions on EVs and the charging of EVs, I will allow Mr. Brennan to come in on the point of the home charging. Why are EVs good for Ireland? One, we can supply the fuel ourselves by generating it locally. Therefore, local fuel supply can provide security of supply. Two, we have relatively short distances to travel. Cars now have a range of 400 km, which will cover anywhere in the country where we need to go, so they are ideal in this situation.

Where do we expect charging to be done? We expect 80% of that will be done at home. The phrase I have used before is, "You charge when you are stopped. You do not stop to charge." It is not like a splash-and-dash at home and then get the fuel and the groceries and all of that. It is a different mindset. People will be planning their journey and saying whether they need a splash-and-dash for three or four minutes just to get me through those last few kilometres and then charge it when the car is sitting at home overnight. That is why the home charging infrastructure and working with those hard to reach dwellings, such as apartments and others, are so critical as part of the strategy. I will allow Mr. Brennan to speak about the piece of work we are doing.

In terms of feedback, has Mr. Brennan heard that the extra electrical work is prohibitive for people getting the infrastructure in place?

Mr. Graham Brennan

There are a number of human factors here that we need to think about. Electricians are being asked to go to homes and they have it in their heads that the installation of a charger is a fixed piece of work costing €1,200. When they go to a house, they are supposed to check the wiring that is there. If they find the wiring to be undersized, according to the rules, they are supposed to upgrade the wiring. Is that always happening? Is the electrician saying that it is fine because it has done the homeowner for the past eight years? There is an opportunity with the roll-out of smart meters. While ESB Networks are changing the meters, there is a chance to figure out how many places need upgrading. The rule of thumb is that if a house was built before 1996, there is a risk that the wiring is low in that regard. I have not seen that become a major issue, but we are starting to see it because we are inquiring about it. We are hearing of more cases where wiring is being upgraded with ESB Networks and Safe Electric.

On the point about the hardest cases for people who live in urban areas, such as Rathmines, being to get supply across a footpath, there are two solutions we are looking at. One solution is to place a gully in the ground, and the other is to have an overhanging arm. People are trying these solutions but everybody is afraid of the liability and questioning if it is within planning laws. If we could get those questions answered, we would include them in the grant scheme and, thereby, widen our net.

The forecourt guys have a very small footprint, so they are worried about the size of all the charging equipment. Planning on whether the equipment will be put underground and electrical regulations are needed to make that happen.

We are spending so much time on forecourts, it is hard to get our mindset away from them. I thank the witnesses and wish them the best of luck with all their collective work, which is very important.

I thank the witnesses for their opening statements and contributions. I refer to modelling and future projections. I recall a figure of 30,000 charging points referred to in some of the early climate action plans. Private or independent analysis was done earlier this year that stated 100,000 charging points would be needed. There is a big difference between 100,000 and 30,000 charging points. It has been acknowledged that technologies are changing and we understand that. How is that modelled and what is needed between now and 2025?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

We are doing work to try to establish that through, for example, the local authority side. There are so many variables feeding into it. Let us assume that between 70% to 75% of homes could have access to home charging. If all of those homeowners use overnight home charging, they would always leave their home with a battery that is charged to 80%. In new vehicles, that would provide a 300 km to 400 km journey. For most trips in Ireland, that would mean they would not need to top up unless it is a very long distance.

We want to put in charging points at places that are convenient for people to use. We heard that a 50 kW charging point takes between 45 and 50 minutes to provide an 80% top-up. People are not going to stop and charge somewhere and sit for 45 to 50 minutes. Our plan is to put that type of charging unit in or around trip destinations, where people are going anyway for a purpose. It is either a supermarket, library, sports club, or swimming pool. While they are there, they can charge their vehicle and it is ready to go when they come out. There is also the en route charging, which is done for very long distance journeys.

What we have is a system whereby we know how much power the cars that we want to have on the roads in 2030 will require. The challenges and difficulties are in analysing how that will be divided between the different types of charging and the different kilowatts. The alternative fuel infrastructure regulation, AFIR, proposal is coming through the EU at present, which will set a mandatory regulation for the provision of high-powered charging along the trans-European transport network, TEN-T, core and additional motorway network. That has to be done regardless of what we think our modelling needs. That will be an EU regulation.

Over the coming six to 12 months, we plan to work with local authorities to identify what they have within their power to do, both in the context of neighbourhood charging and destination charging. We will also launch destination charging schemes by the end of this year for sporting organisations so that people can have them in sports clubs.

We expect that through this process, we will get a sense over time of where the charging will go, the power that will be attached to it and then we will see where the gaps are. It is an incremental process.

The other factor that is changing is that the battery lives of the vehicles are improving all the time. Ten years ago, when we were starting out, one got 200 km to 250 km on a charged battery. This year, most of the vehicles that are new to the market are giving 400 km to 500 km, with some coming in at 700 km. In five years time, a 700 km range on the battery may be standard for a vehicle in Ireland, which will cover almost any single journey a driver might want to make. This means that if drivers have access to a home charger, they will not need to top up elsewhere.

The issue is very complicated, with a lot of variables and assumptions. It is impossible to say at this point what we will need by 2030.

Following on from that, we can potentially see a scenario in which, as the quality of batteries and chargers improve, a huge amount of the charging will happen at home. There is a limited demand for anything outside of that and, in addition, there are the EU regulations to consider. I presume this will change the nature of forecourt operations. Does it raise the possibility that a lot of EV infrastructure might be put in place that is not needed into the future?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

There are two issues. One is that from the perspective of the Government, what we are trying to do is right-size the EV infrastructure. It may be that the private sector is also willing to come in to enhance and add to that. For the Department of Transport, there are questions and queries as to what is the right level of Government investment. We will look to identify strategic locations for the provision of EV charging infrastructure. If investment comes forward in a situation where people see a gap in the market and look to install something, if their proposal does not match our strategic locations then they are free to do it. However, I know there is a concern on the ESB Networks side about oversupply and over-demand, with a lot of substations, a lot of generation and a lot of cost needed to go into the securing of the energy supply in the electricity network. That is the risk on that side.

The experience so far in terms of the local authorities is that there has been a really disappointing uptake. I have spoken with people in my local authority and it seems there are a number of contributory factors. Some of it is lack of experience in the area. We might have to look at having a lead local authority to get the ball rolling and set out the model. I presume there is some anxiety in play in addition to that. My question is in regard to the notion that it will be a case of build it and they will come and the idea of induced demand. It is the notion that the State will say, "Here is the infrastructure", and people will go out and use it. Does that happen? Is there a correlation between the provision of EV charging infrastructure and demand for it?

I might come in with a question for the witnesses from the ESB after Dr. O'Grady responds. I am interested in the Dingle Project.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

There are a few different elements feeding into demand for electric vehicles. Anecdotally, from talking to people I know, they keep telling me their next car will be an EV because the infrastructure is not there at the moment. They are not yet ready to make the commitment but they will be in a few years. Part of that might be perception and the sense they need to see every forecourt with an EV charger. There may be a need for a mind shift in drivers towards the idea of home charging. People may not yet be able to visualise that.

There are pressures arising from oil costs and fuel demands that will nudge people towards purchasing EVs now there is availability of longer-range batteries. Even without a home charger, a long-range battery might only need to be charged once a week or once a fortnight. The cost of purchasing and running an EV will be weighed up in terms of the cost of electricity. There is an awareness that the resale value of an internal combustion engine, ICE, vehicle will dive in a few years' time. People know the shift is coming. Approximately 22% of all cars sold in Ireland in the first few months of this year were sold with a plug attached. Colleagues in Oslo tell me that was the tipping point for them. Once they hit 20%, they got to 80% in approximately four to five years. I do not whether that will happen in Ireland because we have other issues in terms of costs and we also have supply chain issues at the moment. However, in terms of consumer perception, once we get to one fifth of the fleet being electric, everyone recognises that now is the time to move. I think that will happen regardless of infrastructure.

I thank Dr. O'Grady. My next question is for Ms Ward. I am interested in the ESB's Dingle Project and the experience of EV usage in a rural area. Members will be interested to hear about that experience. We know from the statistics that a lot of EVs are ending up in urban areas, which is the nature of these things. One of the factors is that there are alternative modes of public transport available there. I am interested in any insights the ESB representatives have on the rural experience.

Ms Ward said she would welcome the opportunity for ESB to engage on the key criteria for charging locations. What are her thoughts at this stage on what the important considerations should be?

Ms Suzanne Ward

The Dingle Project is run by ESB Networks. The people who ran it will come into the committee, if required, to talk about that project in detail. I can outline some of the information that came out of it. It was found that drivers, on average, drive a distance of only 80 km. Dr. O'Grady talked about certain perceptions people have at this time. For instance, most people feel they would need to charge their cars on a more regular basis than is the case. The Dingle Project showed that, on average, drivers are only travelling distances of approximately 80 km and that is in rural areas where people use their car a lot more often than do drivers elsewhere. That type of insight will help us to deal with the perception issue.

The other issue was that people were really willing to embrace the technology of EVs and EV charging and to make changes very quickly. When people got comfortable with the technology, how the car operated and so on, that helped massively. There are a lot of perceptions out there. One can now charge a car for 400 km at the night rate for less than €10. When that is compared with current fuel costs, it will help to speed up the evolution of EVs on the road.

I will hand over to my colleague, Mr. Byrne, to comment on the criteria for charging locations.

Mr. John Byrne

Looking at the criteria for placing hubs or infrastructure is typically what we do on a day-to-day basis. A lot of this has been iterated over time and we use analytics. Some of the relevant inputs would be the traffic volumes and flows at a particular site, the capacity and speed of the infrastructure and whether the flows and location will support that infrastructure. Another factor is the space that is available on the site. Typically, the space that is required for EV charging infrastructure, depending on the scale of the operation we plan to build at a site, can be excessive. It requires planning permission in many cases. In some locations, space can be at a real premium, particularly in heavily urbanised areas. That is a very big consideration for us.

Grid capacity would also be a factor. This is not just an issue in Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. We operate across three jurisdictions, namely, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and this is a difficulty for us in all those jurisdictions. Obviously, the cost-effective availability of grid capacity at the location is a key criterion.

A criterion we have seen massively increase in value or perception in people's minds is on-site amenity, including issues such as personal safety and accessibility. All of those things have to be taken into account.

Another criterion relates to what the Deputy said earlier about the possible overproliferation of EV charging infrastructure. When considering any new infrastructure, we typically consider the proximity of our other chargers and also any competition in the locality.

Mr. John Byrne

That is what is typically considered by us.

I thank the Chairman.

We will move back to the schedule. Senator Buttimer has ten minutes.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCathaoirleach. I apologise to our guests. I was not able to be here for all the presentations because of votes. If some of my questions have been asked, I apologise for that too.

The key point is that this is about the capacity-building, the people who use them, the communities and the modal shift. Is the Government's climate action target of 1 million cars by 2030 achievable in the opinion of our guests? Are we on target? I do not mind who answers first.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I obviously think it is the right target and I think it is achievable. Where we are at the moment is we have seen a change over the past three or four years from about 8% of vehicles being sold with a plug, to 15% last year and 22% this year. That is indicating a step change every year. The number of EVs being sold every year continues to increase significantly. There are headwinds coming our way that we did not anticipate in 2021 in the form of the global supply chain shortages. We know from contacts within industry that the number of EVs available on the market this year is much less than the industry anticipated this time last year. We can see it ourselves. Several people who have ordered an EV, including myself, are waiting for one. The supply chain shortages started with Covid and the container shortages and then there were the shutdowns in China leading to low factory production. Now we have the war in Ukraine adding additional layers in. At the moment we are not quite sure when those shortages are going to be relieved and when we might get back to business as usual in the supply of EVs to the market. When that supply returns, given that we are seeing increased demand all the time for EVs, it will be a question of when we get our supply chains back to normal. The quicker that happens, the more easily we will be able to deliver those targets.

Okay. Mr. Meally's organisation is incentivising with grants in this transition period. My concern is that we have not explained the grant system properly. We do not make it simple for people. Are the grants sufficient? If the SEAI was to come out of this meeting to advise the Government on a grant-incentivised programme to build capacity in the context of the forthcoming budget, what would its pertinent point be to the Government?

Mr. Declan Meally

I thank the Senator for the question. Just going back to his previous question on the targets and my colleague from the Department, Dr. Grady's response, we are on the right trajectory. Where we are at 60,000 at the moment is right on target. By 2025 it is to be 175,000 and then a step change, so we are right on track. The challenge around the supply chain is obviously a global one we need to address.

Can I just say-----

Mr. Declan Meally

In relation to the incentives-----

I am sorry. I just want to say my husband and I bought an electric car last October and we are still waiting for it. I keep saying it at these meetings just to highlight the real-time difficulty.

Mr. Declan Meally

Yes. On that supply chain, some of the suppliers from the Far East, such as in Korea, are finding they can get cars but with European ones like Volkswagen and others, they are having difficulties because of the impact from Ukraine on that.

Yes. I am sorry for interrupting.

Mr. Declan Meally

On the incentivisation, and just to explain, the grant we give of €5,000 has been changed over time. It was for plug-in hybrids and fully electric and now it is for fully battery-electric.

I have one more question before I go to my vote. I apologise again. This is to the ESB. The chairman of Fingal County Council had a pilot programme, I think with Ubitricity, where it had plug-in chargers on the lamp posts, though I might be wrong. Going back to Deputy O'Rourke's point around local government and the local authorities, how do we get buy-in from the local authorities so they participate more? Maybe we could invite in local government after today. I apologise as I must go to this vote.

Mr. Declan Meally

I can address the Senator's second question as well and perhaps support our colleagues from the Department.

I thank Mr. Meally. I have to leave, so my apologies.

Mr. Declan Meally

On the grant levels, as I said, we put the grant levels online. It is very simple to use. The home charger grant is €600 out of a cost of €1,000 to €1,200 for the installation and that is seen as quite generous in relation to the amount of-----

I might ask Mr. Meally to hold and I will come back. The Chairman may wish to take Deputies Cathal Crowe or Ó Murchú and I will be back after the vote. I apologise again.

We will move to Deputy Carey or if not, Deputy Ó Murchú may wish to come in.

I am under pressure.

If Deputy Ó Murchú is amenable.

I would be only too willing to facilitate.

The health committee is to be out there in two minutes.

Deputy Crowe, you have lift-off, so take it.

I thank Deputy Ó Murchú. I apologise to our guests. There is incessant chaos here as so many committees coincide. I followed most of the debate upstairs and was juggling another committee earlier. I have a few points I want to make and will not take ten minutes.

There is an element of the chicken and the egg to all this. Some people, ideologically, were willing straight away when the first generation of EVs became available to throw the car keys out the window and buy an EV; however, others were less willing. For some people it must make economic sense and there must be an infrastructure, so there is a bit of a pioneering element to all this. I am probably in that bracket. I cycle and I take the train to the Dáil but I have a diesel car for getting around Clare. To be honest, I do not yet trust there is enough infrastructure on the ground and there are an awful lot of people like that. They will wait until the infrastructure is there before making that seismic shift in how they live their lives. That is the chicken and egg aspect. A forecourt owner in the county told me it would cost him €500,000 per fast charging unit in his forecourt. He said a diesel or petrol pump costs virtually nothing because they all have tanks underground and with some of the larger companies the forecourt operators virtually pay for the pumps. It is not so with fast chargers. To Dr. O'Grady and Ms Waller, are there any incentives to get forecourts transitioning to this? I cannot move and more people cannot do so unless the infrastructure is in the forecourt.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

We are aware of that problem. A cost of €500,000 per fast charger is higher than I have heard elsewhere. We had been working in the region of €200,000 to €300,000.

Everything is more expensive in Clare.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Yes. The issues there are really to do with the grid connection and the grid upgrades and what needs to be done to facilitate fast charging, especially in rural Ireland where you may be well away from the power network and substations. The infrastructure strategy proposes we set up a public-private forum because this is somewhere we need to work in partnership with the private sector. We are aware a level of State funding supports will be required. The question is what is the right size and amount for that and where does it go. My feeling is it goes into the grid and the network upgrades needed to deliver energy to particular forecourts. Then we come back to the question of what is the strategic location for the State and where do we provide those grid upgrades. We are not going to be able to provide them to every forecourt operator. The need will not be the same. We have described home charging already. I am sure the majority of people, especially in Clare, will have access to a driveway and a home charger. If we imagine the majority of the population will be able to charge their vehicle at home there will absolutely be a need for public charging but it will not be the same as at the moment where everyone is reliant on forecourts for refuelling. There will be a piece of work ongoing and we have already had very strong engagement with Fuels for Ireland and different forecourt operator-managers to try to assess what is needed and where the support should go. That process continues.

It is probably not necessarily an issue for the Department of Transport but for the Department of Finance, but there needs to be a different taxation and tariff treatment for all of this.

Agricultural diesel is probably a perfect example of that. It is the same commodity but the colour and price are different. Depending on who you are and the nature of your business, you get a cheaper fuel for your diesel vehicle.

Mr. Meally is indicating that he wishes to come in.

Mr. Declan Meally

To bring it back to the Deputy's point on the chicken and egg scenario and how one decides when buying a car at the moment, what we have seen through our behavioural economics team is that there are three stages - contemplation, investigation and decision - when one is buying a new technology. What we are seeing is that as more people own an electric car and then speak to their neighbours about it, people are getting that information and trying out an electric car. The reality is that, as we stated, 80% or more of charging will be done at home. The person will have a car that will take him or her 400 km or 500 km around County Clare. Most people overestimate the journeys they are doing and underestimate the cost they are paying for fuel. The decision to make that jump from diesel or petrol to an electric car starts to come with seeing EVs on the road, picking up the information from neighbours and friends and then realising that if a car has a range of 400 km or 500 km, it will only have to be charged once or twice a week and that it will only be charged at home. The cheapest tariff one can get for charging the car is to do so overnight at home. Those are the decisions people make before deciding which car they want. There are many people now who want to switch but cannot do so because of the supply chain constraint. As regards the charging infrastructure, however, it is not about having charging points across the county because everyone has a three-pin plug socket into which one can plug the car and charge-----

If I may jump in on that point, I know of a person in north County Clare who has bought an electric car but has encountered a problem. He lives in a town and has an on-street parking space. It is not his space but, most of the time, it is available for him to park there. He contacted the county council as he or she wanted to run ducting out. The council stated that he does not own the parking space but, rather, just has routine usage of it, so it will not run ducting out to the parking space. He cannot run a cable out through his window and across to the parking space. There will be teething problems. The Department of Transport and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage have agreements in respect of ducting for broadband and other utilities but nobody has thought about how to get a 3 m flex cable out the window of this person's home and to his car.

Mr. Declan Meally

That issue arose in the context of previous questions. My colleague Dr. O'Grady spoke about the setting up of the ZEVI office. The local authority County and City Management Association, CCMA, is also involved in discussing these ideas. We have considered it. We have spoken to and been engaging with the likes of Fingal County Council, which does this using street lamps, but there is not enough power going to the street lamps to be able to bring it to charge a car. There are different technologies emerging. There are opportunities to consider ducts or a technology that is coming out which involves an arm attached to the side of the house that can be swung out to drop a cable without interfering with anybody. Some of those are coming through the SEAI through the grant schemes. These technology opportunities and solutions are emerging. The issue of ensuring that people who do not have off-street parking can charge their EV is being considered.

Mr. Meally explained that well and I thank him for that. I have a question for Ms Ward. The Green Atlantic offshore wind farm off the coast of counties Clare, Kerry and Galway is a significant project. That power will be brought on shore at Moneypoint, where there is already a €50 million synchronous compensator converting it to storable hydrogen fuel. The ESB is very involved in this project but it seems that only Bus Éireann, which has stated that it will have hydrogen buses, is grasping it. Bus Éireann already has many hydrogen buses in Dublin city. It will use that fuel and be a main customer of the scheme. No one has spelled out who else will use this hydrogen fuel, however. There is a high-level strategy on it. From the point of view of consumers, however, offshore electricity will be brought on shore and converted to hydrogen but the question is who else will use it. Has the ESB any policy or marketing strategy to get that fuel into cars as well?

Ms Suzanne Ward

I cannot speak to the project itself. Obviously, it is ESB generation. I spoke broadly earlier on light freight vehicles and heavy vehicles. Some of them may need hydrogen and be driven by hydrogen in the future. As the market develops and as technology and batteries for domestic cars develop, there will probably be a hydrogen element to heavier vehicles. That is what that will look like. The market is developing and that will be part and parcel of it.

I have a final question for Mr. Brennan, after which my time will be up. I have run this point by the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, a few times. Obviously, the SEAI has significant oversight of building energy ratings, BER. When a person buys a house, he or she has a good idea how energy efficient it is and how well it heats and cools and everything else. When it comes to cars, there is the national car test, NCT, and one can look at the service record of the car. When it comes to electric cars, however, one needs to know the grade of battery the car has. That needs to be graded in some way, including across the years of car usage. Plant machinery is gauged in hours. If one looks on, one will see advertisements for diggers or tractors that have clocked up a certain number of work hours clocked. To my knowledge, however - I hope our guests can contradict me on this - there is no database for some kind of national registry that grades car batteries in the second and third years of usage so that the buyer of a second-hand car knows what he or she is buying. Can Mr. Brennan enlighten us on those efforts?

Mr. Graham Brennan

Sure. It is a good question. How does one convey battery ageing to the consumer? In the early days, as a Nissan Leaf, for example, aged, it lost a bar on the display. Each bar represented an equal amount of energy. I have not seen that on modern cars. I think that is because the manufacturers are putting overcapacity in the battery. They know the battery will lose 1% or 2% of its storage each year. One is not seeing that because the manufacturers are compensating for it and to cover themselves in the context of the warranty. EVs usually have an eight-year warranty, approximately, for the battery. I am not aware of anyone having explained a standard test. That should go into the homologation process for the cars. There should be something that sets out how we categorise a battery. At the moment-----

A BER certification, if one likes, for electric cars would make it very consumer friendly. The consumer would have a fair idea what he or she is buying.

Mr. Graham Brennan

Under the new worldwide harmonised light vehicles test procedure driving cycle, all the cars are tested on a standard cycle. Range is calculated on a standard cycle, at a standard temperature and distance, so-----

May I ask a final quick question? When one buys a mobile phone, one is told that for proper battery health the phone battery should be allowed to drain to empty and then recharged. I do not think anyone does that, however. If I see that my phone battery is at 60%, I plug it in. I think everyone has that habit. Is it the same in the case of electric cars? Do people who have 50% of battery juice in their car but are planning a long journey plug it in every time? Has anyone considered the fact that battery efficiency goes in a downward trajectory because the battery is being overcharged and the battery cycle is not being allowed to complete?

Mr. Graham Brennan

Battery management systems are very sophisticated now. They even have active cooling. They heat the battery to the right temperature before one starts charging it. There is a big difference between mobile phones and EVs. The battery in a phone is just big enough to get through the day, whereas the battery in an EV is big enough to get the car to Galway once a month. The battery in an EV is not cycled as much as a phone battery. Phone batteries work really hard, so they lose life faster. The irony is that the bigger the battery, the longer it lives. For the same mileage each year, a bigger battery is not being worked as hard, so it goes shallower. The bigger the battery, the longer it lasts.

I thank the witnesses. My apologies as I will have to leave the meeting shortly. I thank them for everything they are doing.

I thank our guests for coming in. Unfortunately, my battery will not get through a two-hour period at this stage. I am too lazy to buy a new one but I will have to deal with that. The witnesses have dealt with a considerable number of the issues. In fairness, many people have said they fall under the same bracket as me. I would not consider an electric car because the infrastructure was not there. There are then all the obvious ideas that dawn on you later. The big thing is that, to a degree, the shooting match is not the infrastructure; it is people having a charger at home. For 75% of people, that is a possibility, but solutions have to be determined for the other 25%.

Could Dr. O'Grady also repeat what she said? She spoke previously about tipping point type percentages and what will make a major impact. Obviously, price and the supply chain are issues that need to be fixed in the near future.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Can the Deputy clarify on the provision of infrastructure? The supply chain was more about vehicles.

I accept that. Dr. O'Grady said previously that when something hits 20%, it suddenly jumps-----

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Yes. That is anecdotal but it is based on experience in Norway where once the market share of cars with a plug hit 20%, it got to 80% within another four or five years.

It is the same idea as fax machines.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Yes. It is like the move from standard mobile phones to smartphones, when there were early adopters and then, all of a sudden, the herd moved, everyone flipped, and no one was buying the old Nokia 8310 anymore.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I bought one for my daughter the other day so she would not have access to the Internet.

Best of luck with that.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

There comes a point when everyone realises it is actually moving. If a person is purchasing a car now, why would he or she purchase one with an ICE? I particularly think this is the case with vehicles because so many people who purchase new cars do so with the intent of selling them on after two to three years. If that resale value is moving and people only want an EV, if they purchase an ICE vehicle how will they be able to sell it? I think that gives an added pressure.

That is good. What exactly is required as regards grid upgrades when we are talking about fast chargers and whatever else? I imagine that has an impact on the price we are hearing, which Dr. O'Grady reckons is approximately €200,000 for a fast charger.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

It is all to do with getting high-speed electricity and energy to the particular point. If that is not available from the line at the moment, it often involves the creation and provision of a new substation to power the high-power charging. This is all handled by ESB Networks rather than us. A colleague who is acting as one of our advisers to ZEVI pointed out in the early days that electric vehicles are only 50% a transport problem; they are also 50% an energy and electricity problem. If we cannot get the electricity to where it needs to be for the right price for the right system, then we have nothing to power EVs.

That obviously creates a huge difficulty. I suppose the piece of work that needs to be done is to ensure we have that or otherwise we are-----

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

It is doing that and then also trying to balance the level of Government investment so that we do not overspecify and overcommit to our network. We are not just talking about the electrification of transport but, in the same eight years, the electrification of heat. Therefore, an awful lot of demand is being placed on the electricity system, and two significant sectors moving to electrification at the same time creates huge grid pressures and demands. We work very closely with our colleagues in ESB Networks, and will continue to do so, in trying to prioritise the right locations for EV infrastructure charging to give them enough advance notice in order that they can get the right-sized grid and deliver the energy where it needs to be.

I was going to ask a question regarding how this is absolutely modelled out, but I imagine that is done to a huge level. As I said, it is obviously geographical, time-based and all the rest of it. It is making sure to stay ahead of where the need is going to be, and that creates its own difficulty.

Could Dr. O'Grady go into an element of what that looks like in general terms.? If anybody listening to this debate has shares in a company with forecourts, I imagine he or she is selling at the minute in the sense that there are obviously worries in that regard whereas beforehand, I heard people say that an awful lot of forecourts determined they would not be selling a huge amount of fuel into the future. Therefore, it is about maybe becoming a destination in the sense that people stop for food or whatever else and people will always need services if they are on long journeys etc.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I think it does mean a change of business model.

That is just it. Regarding the modelling the Department has done, however, how much detail can Dr. O'Grady go into on that?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

The modelling we have done so far has been at a relatively high level at a county level. Really, with what we are trying to do, again, the difficulty comes into what we know is the total energy demand. What we need to try to work out is how to break that down into how much of that energy demand will be apportioned by our 7 kW or lower charges and how much will be done. Will an overnight or six-to-eight-hour charge typically be done at a place of residence or maybe a workplace during the day? Then, we have destination chargers, which would be 25 kW to 50 kW, when a person would be charging from anywhere between 45 minutes to two to three hours. The idea there is to try to match that to consumer behaviour. That is the big challenge for EV infrastructure.

Previously, all our vehicle refuelling has been on the basis that a person stops for five minutes, refuels, pays and goes. Now, what we are trying to do is match our infrastructure to consumer behaviour. Therefore, where people's cars will dwell for a long period of time, either at their home or place of work if they commute by car, we will provide a low-power charge or recommend a low power charge in terms of grid capacity. It is also better for the vehicle anyway. Then, where people have a shorter dwelling time of one to three hours but again, not a quick splash and dash, we would be talking about 25 kW to 50 kW. Then, for real emergencies like when a person is on the motorway and the battery starts blinking with 150 km to go, that is when the splash and dash is needed. That person just pops in, refuels for maybe five to ten minutes, gets 150 km on the charge and makes his or her way to the destination. That is the challenge. It is about getting the right level of power in the right place to meet consumer needs.

That is it, and also to deal with people like myself who are incredibly disorganised and might not necessarily have charged the night before.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

There is that. We discussed with our consultants what level of rationality they were building into their estimations.

Right, I get that. This could work out perfectly in the sense that if we move into renewables and have an infrastructure that can play this, we are in a completely different place. We are in the world we need to be in. The big thing, which is almost a repeat of what was said earlier, and I am hearing about pilots and all the rest, is how we facilitate home-charging units for people who do not have that. Could I get a bit of detail in relation to the over-hanging arm and anything else that is being looked at? I refer to multi-unit chargers within estates and everything else. It is the fact of actually being able to secure and control them and all the rest of it, and regular wear and tear combined with not so regular wear. Unfortunately, we have regular cases whereby stuff that is left unattended can be damaged, which creates its own difficulty.

If we are talking about local authorities then, a guy approached me previously and he was quite straight in a sense. He was selling cars and said he would like to sell more EV. He did not believe - whether this was fair is something I will chase up over the summer - that there was sufficient level of interest from the local authority in County Louth. Again, however, it could be a case that we basically need someone to at least go into a number of local authorities with a certain element of focus to show people best practice and what needs to be done and work alongside other stakeholders to produce what is needed.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I would agree. I think it is challenging for local authorities because of what we are actually asking them to do. What the State is having to do is step into a space in which it has never acted before. We never got involved in the refuelling of cars. It has always been a private sector operation. The State is now stepping into a space in which State activity or intervention has never been needed. For local authorities then, this is not something with which they are tasked or in which they are skilled or have expertise. We have been working with some local authorities who are out ahead of the game. Tipperary County Council has been engaging with us. The four Dublin authorities have come together to develop a Dublin metropolitan area EV infrastructure proposal. We are also working with local authorities in Limerick, Cork and Galway. What we see-----

There is no engagement with Louth County Council at the minute.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

There actually has been engagement. Louth County Council has very good funding through an EU FASTER programme. We engage with the council through that but because of that, it has not even needed to come to us for funding; it has lots. It is rolling out a cross-Border project, which also involves Scotland, for high-powered charging along both sides of the Border in Ireland and in Scotland. It has been doing very well on that.

There are two steps in terms of local authorities. I think there is a recognition from local authorities, certainly from all the ones to which we have spoken. We have spoken at local authority conferences as well. There is a recognition of the need to step into this space. The questions then are what resources they need to do this job properly, what supports we can give them from central government, on which we are working with them, and what they need to do.

We would look at piloting a number of charging options for people without access to a driveway. Lamp-post charging is running as a pilot in Fingal County Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. We are looking at what is happening in other cities around Europe. Amsterdam has a nice model whereby people who purchase an EV make the city authority aware of this. If they have access to a driveway, it is not an issue. Really we are talking about people living in towns and cities or in villages with on-street access. The city authority does a scan. If there is an EV charger within 250 m of where people live that is vacant for more than 50% of the time, the authority says that people are fine. That 250 m is built in because it has to be convenient. If there is no EV charger within 250 m, people are prioritised for delivery. If there is a charger within 250 m which is occupied for more than 50% of the time, the authority concludes that there is insufficient infrastructure and maps it.

We are working with local authorities. Through the infrastructure strategy, we have proposed setting up a public sector delivery group which would involve them. It is about working out the right way to do this. Some local authorities do not want to put in on-street charging on streets because they also want to put in active travel routes beside the kerb, so that is a challenge. There is the option of charging hubs. Our key aim is to have infrastructure that is convenient to and used by people. If we have infrastructure within 200 m or 300 m of where people live, that is ideal. It does not have to be on-street. A hub is also fine. We will test a mix of different options over the next year or two. We will probably find there are two or three solutions that really work for people in Ireland and roll them out more widely.

There will be two years of training and testing, but within that, there will be solutions.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

We will be delivering infrastructure.

We are talking about four or five local authorities. Within two years, we will move beyond that, while accepting that people will start, watch and take on-----

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

The existing schemes remain in place. We will relaunch them later this year with additional funding supports. We are ready to work with any local authority that has a concept of what it wants to do. We propose that local authorities which are stepping into this space should work with us. We are offering supports for them to develop their own strategies. While they are doing that, they could also develop pilots. We do not want to hold back on providing infrastructure. If people have a good idea and are ready to roll it out, we are happy to work with them and support them.

Mr. Declan Meally

The Deputy mentioned Louth. Louth County Council was the first to apply for public sector grants for local authorities. I will not go back over what my colleague from the Department, Dr. O'Grady, has talked about. We have a working group which is operated through the public sector forum and local authorities. It is trying to crack the business model. Should it be a concessionaire model whereby the local authority provides a plinth and it is open to the market to provide the charging units? If so, how will that work? We are looking at how all these initiatives will work. Louth County Council was fast getting out of the blocks. It is working on a faster project and engaging in many activities there.

One can see local authority car parks that now have units for charging. People have got used to it. We are definitely in a different place from where we were a few years ago.

Mr. Declan Meally

It is looking at the park and ride off the M1 at Dundalk. It is already considering locations.

I think I have used up more than my time. I have a tendency to do that. I am fairly sure that Senator Buttimer will bring Mr. Meally back in to either extol or take apart the grant system and tell us what needs to be changed or not.


It is awfully decent of me, I know. It is just the level of integrity that I bring to the process.

Mr. Meally was in possession when I left. I apologise. Does he want to conclude his remarks?

Mr. Declan Meally

The Senator asked a general question about grant levels then talked about the street light pilot. My colleague referred to that. There have been many discussions with local authorities about those pilots, including Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. The issue with street lights is that they do not receive sufficient energy to power the EV chargers. We need to look at whether there are trickle opportunities to use this model. Street lights are not metered, so a meter cabinet has to be installed. There are some technical, regulatory and physical issues that are being worked on with the local authorities. Fingal and the other Dublin authorities have come up with a strategy. They have been looking at options for charging hubs.

We believe the grant incentives are where they should be. We, the Department and the Minister constantly review them to determine what should be upgraded. We have changed the incentives over the years. We started off providing commercial and private grants. The commercial grant was dropped because there was an opportunity for benefit-in-kind and there was no need for an additional incentive. As battery electric vehicles now have a longer range, we did not need to incentivise plug-in hybrids, which already had an ICE. The idea is for the funding available from the Government to target battery electric vehicles. The €5,000 currently there is constantly under review. It will not be there forever. There should be price parity with petrol and diesel vehicles in 2024 or 2025. The cost of running, buying and servicing an internal combustion engine is higher than an electric car. It is cheaper to run an electric vehicle. We are aiming to incentivise the markets.

We have changed the grant schemes over the last couple of years. They were online. The home grant applications are much easier and more straightforward online. They can be processed relatively quickly. It used to be that it took up to ten days to approve a grant for vehicle charges. That is now instant. Somebody would have to come in, look at a car, go away to think about it, get a grant offer and then come back in again. A dealer can now get grant approval immediately when the customer is on the forecourt. All of those changes have happened following a series of developments in the grant scheme. They are constantly under review. Mr. Brennan was running the programmes and I will let him come in.

Mr. Graham Brennan

We are conscious of the differences between the home charger scheme and the vehicle scheme. The vehicle scheme works through dealerships. The home charger scheme works directly with customers, so one person applies each time. We are constantly looking at improving it, so we are looking at changing some of the evidence we require. The committee might hear more about that next week. We would make it easier by requiring less evidence.

We use Safe Electric to help us to confirm that installations are valid. This also helps Safe Electric with safety and regulating electricians. We are looking to have that check in parallel with other checks to speed it up.

We have seen an increase in the cost of charging and the first-time cost of charging points for people. Is that counterproductive, given that we are reducing fares, offering free tickets and not charging for public transport? Should we offer free charging points?

Mr. Graham Brennan

One reason for bringing in charging costs was to stop the overuse of infrastructure. People were not using their home chargers. They were leaving vehicles on the street overnight. That has worked. The infrastructure is now being used when it is needed. That is why we did that.

Mr. Declan Meally

The Senator may have been out when we made the point that the cheapest place to charge is at home, especially when one is using a night-time rate. There may be different tariffs when smart meters come in and there may be a different opportunity. We are seeking to incentivise people not to stay on public chargers because others want to use them too. There has to be a cost for charging, for example to pay for the cost of the electricity which has been generated. We see, in the total cost of ownership, a saving of at least 70% when running an electric car compared with a petrol or diesel vehicle. Using EVs offers major savings.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

We want to get into a space where the EV charging market is attractive in Ireland to the private sector and international operators. The sector is really developing here. A very healthy market is beginning to develop here for ESB e-cars and others. If we move to free charging or have to regulate that, we will shoot ourselves in the foot and discourage the private sector from investing.

Is Dr. O'Grady talking about free charging?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Yes. The private sector needs to be able to make a profit. It must be able to recoup the cost of its initial investment, which we heard earlier is very significant for some forecourt operators. We need to allow some charging but the provision of home charging, which is obviously the cheapest rate, and the slow standard overnight charging which we are looking to develop with local authorities for people who do not have access to a home-charging option, will mean that one can still charge an EV at a very low cost rate in comparison to an ICE. Then one can use high-powered charging, which is where there is commercial interest, for a top-up as opposed to a constant need or main use.

We have been told that this is about equity and fairness. Some people have told us that they have found that access is not easy.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady


The whole piece around equity is a concern for people as well.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Yes. Of the key principles in the EV infrastructure strategy, we have said that home charging should be the default option. It is the lowest cost and probably the healthiest for the car's battery. For people who do not have access to that, we do not want a two-tier system to emerge. We want to work with local authorities to provide low-cost charging solutions for people who do not have access to a home driveway. We are also working with the SEAI to introduce a scheme for apartments or multi-residential units-----

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

-----in the short term. People who live in apartment blocks who do not have access to a home driveway but maybe have access to parking within the apartment block should be able to access an EV charging solution there too.

Before I left to attend a vote there was a question on local authorities to which Mr. Meally responded. Can he say whether there is substantive engagement from local authorities on the development of outputs?

Mr. Declan Meally

Yes, there is. We have mentioned it a couple of times. There have been a number of different engagements. We have engaged over the years through the public sector group and local authorities. We have looked not only at EV charging but also at street lighting. We are engaging with them directly on lots of areas. We have dealt with the likes of Fingal County Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on their pilot schemes. They are now formally engaged now through the Department of Transport and the ZEVI group. They are sitting on that with the chair of the CCMA climate group. There is direct engagement for those from an operational point of view and a strategic point of view.

I ask the ESB delegation for their takeaway points from today's meeting, particularly as we go back to the Government and engage with the ESB on how we can collectively move the modal shift forward.

Ms Suzanne Ward

We welcome this strategy and it has a lot of really good points. It is very much about getting all parties to the table. To keep up the pace and delivery will be key aspects. A number of areas have been clarified regarding how various task forces will come together. It is through those task forces that we will develop strong implementation plans to develop a really strong infrastructure to support customer deployment of EVs throughout the country.

Has the ESB given thought to how it will assist homeowners or EV owners with at-home charging, for example in the context of its incentivisation scheme or the provision of grant aid to homeowners in terms of bills?

Ms Suzanne Ward

From an Electric Ireland perspective, there is a number of aspects to the matter. There is a number of different rates. At the moment, when one charges a vehicle at night one gets 400 km for €10, which is really significant compared with a diesel or petrol car. That scheme is already in place. As the market develops, further products will become available and we will look to avail of them. There are significant benefits available for charging at home, which is where the majority of charging will be done.

We are in a cost-of-living crisis and energy inflation is gargantuan. Electric Ireland was not slow last month to increase its prices. That is not a dig at Ms Ward as it is not her department. I am worried that we are not incentivising the modal shift to a greater extent. We need to assist with the roadmap. Ten years ago people were told that they should buy diesel vehicles, but now we are being told to buy electric vehicles. The Society of the Irish Motor Industry has told us that there is no hope of hitting the target of 1 million EV cars by 2030. I was going to compare the situation with "Love Island" but I had better not mention that here. To me, it is about how we can create a modal shift.

The Senator can certainly mention known figures.

I would not recommend that the Chairman and I should go on "Love Island". Perhaps Deputy Ó Murchú and Senator Craughwell could do so. I believe we should incentivise people. When representatives of the Road Safety Authority appeared before the committee a fortnight ago, we discussed engagement and selling the message.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I agree with the Senator. The cost issue for EVs is not the running costs. It is not the cost of the electricity to power them. It is the upfront purchase cost.

The purchase cost is significant and Dr. O'Grady is correct to say that.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

That is the big challenge. We would like to get to a point where the purchase cost of an EV is, with Government grants, similar to the purchase cost of an ICE equivalent. Once we are able to hit that point, there will be little or no reason not to purchase an EV. Norway, unlike us, is outside of the EU VAT agreement so can charge 0% VAT on EVs. In that country, an EV is cheaper to purchase than an ICE equivalent.

Have we sought a derogation?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I do not think we are able to do so. We consulted the Department of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and it is not a mover.

Dr. O'Grady is correct.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

It is the cost of the car that is the challenge rather than the running cost of electricity.

Yes, the initial cost. Deputies must drive between here and their constituencies, and all members cover a lot of miles. I suspect that we would have to charge EVs often to cover such distances. I do not think I could travel from Cork to Dublin with an EV vehicle.

The Senator could ask a constituent to allow him to charge his car.

We could do that too. I am sure many of our councillors would be glad to see us. I wonder whether I could drive all the way from Cork to Dublin in an EV vehicle in one run.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

The new EV models can travel 400 km on a single charge.

Is that with a phone plugged in, and a radio and air conditioning switched on?

Plus a deep fat fryer in the back of the vehicle.

I apologise for digressing. A couple of weeks ago I made the point here that the car has become a hive of activity with children on the back seat, etc.

Ban the children for a start.

I apologise for digressing.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Last year we saw a real step change in the variety of models for sale on the Irish market with the arrival of between four and six new models which all have ranges of above 400 km. A colleague in my division drives to Cork regularly in her new EV. When she stops for coffee, she charges up her vehicle before continuing on her journey.

She charges it up.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I think one can travel the distance with a single charge.

That is a moot point.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

It is a challenge.

I would like to ask another question.

While the Senator thinks of his question, I would like to make a point about EVs. I always ask taxi drivers about EVs because they are very knowledgeable about them. They are the most knowledgeable by a mile. When I take a taxi to Heuston Station or wherever, I ask the taxi driver about EVs. They have told me that EVs are great for urban driving but are not good on motorways because if one drives at any sort of high speed they burn into the battery. In many cases, one cannot drive long distances. Taxi drivers have tested EVs in great depth. How far are we behind technology-wise in reaching a point where the average person can buy an EV car in the full knowledge that he or she can travel from Dublin to Limerick or Cork without fear and will not be required to stop at junction 14, which is what many people must do now? EV cars are unaffordable for the average person and many people believe that the battery life is not long enough.

It is about feeding into that. The discussion is very abstract. The question is how we get to the point to where a person changing his or her average car feels that an EV is affordable. At the moment, people do not believe EVs are affordable in terms of cost and practicality.

I concur with the Chairman. I think Dr. O'Grady is correct. It is about the cost and the initial shelling-out of that fee.

I have an abstract question to which the witnesses might not have the answer. The EU INTERREG VA programme between academic institutions and local authorities is providing funding of €6.4 million for a project. I do not want to put the witnesses on the spot. I am fascinated by it, given our interaction with local authorities. What will that funding be used for? Is it part of an academic exercise? Have we drawn it down? The witnesses can come back to the committee with a note on it if they do not have the answer. This is mentioned on page 45 of the strategy. I am curious to learn what it is about. The strategy states: "The Ireland-specific part of the project aims to fund up to 40 fast charge points in various locations on both sides of the Border with a target date for delivery of May 2023." Is that funding being delivered? Have we drawn it all down? Is there more we can get from it? I am aware that my questions are abstract today.

I thank the witnesses for attending today and for the work they are doing. We have made a huge shift as a country. Each of the groups that are represented today have played a significant role in that. It is great that the Department is driving the change. It is about the messaging, the social media campaign and changing the mindset. For the ESB, it about incentivisation. I know that the initial cost of changing to EVs is the big one. I still think it goes back to what Tom Cruise said about showing the people the money. People like to have a few bob more. If we can demonstrably show them in real terms that they are saving a chunk of money by investing in an EV in comparison to traditional cars, that will help make the change. The Minister for Transport was criticised for suggesting that people should slow down when they are driving. He was not far wrong, but it did not suit the narrative at the time for him to say that. It is about us all being part of that change mode. I am rambling. I will leave it there.

Did we get an answer on the INTERREG VA programme project?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

The FASTER project is the project that is being delivered through INTERREG VA programme funding. It is a delivery project, which will deliver EV charging infrastructure. The academic part of the project is the evaluation and research behind that. It is about delivering the infrastructure across a number of counties in Ireland along the Border.

Mr. Declan Meally

From an SEAI point of view, the project started off and is being led, on this side, in County Louth. The project is seeking to install 75 chargers across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the six Border counties in the INTERREG area. Work is being done to complete the procurement process in the three jurisdictions.

I hate days like today. My head has been in six or seven different places. I missed the opening presentations.

I do not want to break with convention, but is the Senator able to multitask?

I have never been able to multitask. I am very single-minded.

He is about to change that now.

I recall being in County Kerry some time ago, visiting Dingle. I told my wife that I had always wanted to drive the Ring of Kerry. I set my satnav and started driving. I drove for a while and the satnav instructed me to take the next left. I took the next left and continued on. The road started to get narrower and narrower until there was grass in the middle of it. I wondered how a bus would get around the area, because it was crazy. I was thinking, as I was driving in my internal combustion car, how I would feel if I was in an electric car. I was in the middle of nowhere. I kept reassuring my lady wife that it was all right and I knew where I was going. I did not have a clue if I was ever going to get out of the place. I have difficulty with the idea of using EVs in rural Ireland.

I want to raise a few issues. My colleague Senator Buttimer mentioned that in 2009, we were told by the Government to go out and buy diesel cars because it was the only way to live. God help us, but so many families have been stuck with diesel cars that they cannot get rid of because it was the wrong decision to make. Right now, we are in a transition period in respect of energy. We are talking about EVs today. We could be talking about hydrogen vehicles tomorrow. Who knows what other technology is coming along? I am a bit concerned about the amount of money that we are putting into the infrastructure. We may learn, at some stage in the future, that we have gone in the wrong direction and we should have gone down the hydrogen route or somewhere else. In my own driving experience, I have moved from petrol to liquified petroleum gas, LPG; from LPG to diesel; from diesel back to LPG; and from LPG back to petrol. I have learned that if you drive slowly and carefully, you can save quite a lot of money. That comes with age. I am a little concerned that we might be heading in the wrong direction.

There is another issue that I am concerned about, and I would be interested in hearing the witnesses' views on it. How ethical is the mining of the raw material for the batteries of EVs? It is all very well for me to get into my big 4x4 EV in Dublin, the manufacturing of which probably emitted as much carbon as would be emitted twice in the lifetime of the vehicle itself. However, if the battery came from children mining in darkest Africa, where are we going with saving the planet? Are we saving the planet at the cost of thousands of lives in these places? That is one of the areas that I would like to touch upon.

I will mention another area I would like to touch on. I have been living a bachelor's life for the last two weeks because my wife and daughter have Covid, so I am living in my son's house. The hot water system is heated by solar panels. It is absolutely fantastic. I have never had such hot water that is available at all times. Is there any chance we could use solar panels to charge our cars at home? Would that require some retrofitting to be done to homes?

The witnesses mentioned night rates. In County Louth, very interesting work is being done by EnergyCloud at the moment. It is very innovative. Energy that is generated at night, which is of no value to anybody to heat water in houses, is used.

Going back to the cost of charging EVs, I am interested in the figure of €10 per 400 km. I have two relations who switched to EVs recently. They are both complaining that their ESB bills are through the roof. I am not sure how they are being charged. Perhaps Mr. Meally knows whether there is an opportunity to expand the work of EnergyCloud into vehicle charging. I will leave it at that for the moment.

Mr. Graham Brennan

I can respond to a few of the Senator's questions. On the hydrogen versus battery debate, when a hydrogen fuel cell is used and is made from electricity, the round-trip efficiency is 50%. If that is done by battery, the efficiency is around 87%. If we are using electricity in both cases, hydrogen will always lose to a battery, economically. We find that all of the manufacturers are making battery EVs. For the cars, the feeling is that the batteries have it. There is ten years of development in EVs. The price of fuel cell vehicles is around €50,000 at the moment. That is where EVs were ten years ago. No one is really building infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles. When we move up in scale, there is even uncertainty as to whether hydrogen will work for heavy vehicles such as trucks. It looks like the medium-sized vans will all be electric. The trend is certainly there. It is based on efficiencies. Around 40 battery factories are being built in Europe now, so there will be tonnes and tonnes of battery production capacity in Europe. Hydrogen is probably better suited for aviation. It might also work very well in electrolysis for grid storage and perhaps in shipping. Those are the niche areas where it can be used.

On mining, cobalt mining is the big issue. Around 60% of that comes from Congo. On the evolution of the technology, all the manufacturers, including Tesla, are planning to stop using cobalt.

They are replacing it with nickel. Tesla is boasting that already some of its vehicles have stopped using cobalt. There is also battery recycling to get the cobalt back. The evolution of the battery has moved to lithium and sulphur. This is possibly all there will be in the batteries in future. There is tonnes of lithium around and sulphur is fairly cheap. This is probably where it will go.

The point on EnergyCloud is a very good one. We are switching the home charger programme so that we will only fund smart chargers. The smart meter and the smart charger are separate entities. Smart meters tell people how much energy they are using every 15 minutes. Based on this, the supplier can decide to give them a package. With a smart charger, if someone knows the price of energy will plummet because the amount of wind on the system that night will be enormous, they can use a smart charger to charge. This is how it is evolving. We will see it emerging. The smart charger is essential. I will leave the point on photovoltaic energy for someone else.

Mr. Declan Meally

The whole idea with solar, as with EnergyCloud, is the smart use of energy. Smart meters will allow this. Cars are coming out with batteries that will be able to contribute to the grid. At times when energy is needed, it can be taken from the cars. If there was a storm in Kerry a car could power a house for two or three days. This is the battery capacity. The vehicle-to-grid technology that is coming will allow the energy to go two ways.

The solar panels on the house are for solar thermal energy that heats the water through a circuit. Photovoltaic solar energy generates electricity. If a car is parked outside the house during the day it provides an opportunity to charge the car with the energy straight from the sun. Our grant schemes can be availed of in any home, ideally those that are south facing. The opportunities for home energy systems include not only charging a battery but also running a heat pump and feeding the energy system. The system is getting smarter. EnergyCloud particularly looks at low-income homes and putting hot water into the cylinders and topping them up at night. Generally, many of the issues to be addressed in these areas are regulatory as opposed to technical.

I have driven around the Ring of Kerry. We can now see with an app where the charge points are, whether they are being used and the cost of charging. Drivers look at the fuel gauge, the range and how far it is to the nearest charger. People will not go out with fumes in the tank to do the Ring of Kerry. They will make sure they have enough charge to get around. They will make sure they know on the app where the charge points are. They will know whether to go to the hotel they are staying in for an overnight trickle charge to be ready to go again the next day, or to a fast charger in the town. All of this information is on the system.

To go back to the general point on taxi drivers and others, we have to rethink our use of transport as well as our use of energy. People talk about the journey from Dublin to Cork but how often do they make that journey? Are they thinking about the car they are using and the longest journey they would ever do? Are they thinking about what they do five or six days a week? We have seen that 80% of the journeys carried out are less than 80 km long. For a journey from Cork to Dublin people could drive to the train station in Cork, hop on the train and then use a bike to get around Dublin. When they return to Cork, the car is charged. People must think about the best way to use transport. Cars will now allow us to go for 400 km. The faster people drive on the motorway, the more energy they will use. It is the same with petrol or diesel. The heavier people are with the foot the more they will use from the fuel tank. It is about getting used to this behavioural change. The taxi drivers in Dublin to whom we have spoken who use the cars and who have received very generous grants are saving €300 a week on average in fuel costs. There are opportunities and there is a case for doing it.

They have gone through it quite forensically. I do not want to cut across Mr. Meally. For the average person an electric car is on the horizon but it is over the horizon. People do not see it as immediate. They see they will probably get one more car before moving to an EV. It comes down to cost. I take the point on the shift in mode. The average person might only do a long journey a couple of times a year but they want certainty. If I am on fossil fuel, I can pull in along the motorway and get diesel or petrol. There are factors and reliability. The devil is always in the detail. This is an aside. I have several questions but I will wait my turn.

I am mindful that during the Celtic tiger in the noughties people were driving Range Rovers and other such vehicles around Foxrock. I said to a friend of mine that I wondered why they were driving the vehicles. He said that when they bought the vehicles, they got a pair of wellingtons too. They would go to the ploughing championship once a year to try out four-wheel drive.

I am interested in what Dr. O'Grady said about early adapters. People adapted to electric vehicles before they were quite ready and before the market had settled in. When I bought a car recently, I was mindful about buying a dual fuel or hybrid vehicle. The salesman in the garage told me not to. He said that the battery is too heavy for it and it causes a problem with the suspension in the car. Even though my car has an internal combustion engine, it has all the technology to tell me when I am saving fuel. The difference between 120 km/h and 100 km/h is amazing when it comes to the cost of running it. Not every family wants to buy a great big four-wheel drive vehicle. For the average family to buy a little Yaris to run around in or a small electric car the cost is still too high. We have to do something if we are serious about moving in this direction.

Another problem we have is that people tend to change their cars every three or four years. This will become a problem. The carbon cost of manufacturing the car is probably 20 years. How many 20-year-old cars do we see on the road? There are very few. A lot of education and a lot of cultural change must take place. Is the Department doing anything about this?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

We are doing a lot. We always need to do more. The average family in Ireland does not purchase a new vehicle. The people in Ireland who purchase new vehicles are a very small minority of the population when we look at the overall car fleet and how many new vehicles are purchased every year. To get to the average family in Ireland we need a second-hand EV fleet. We are only now hitting the point of EV sales when we will see EVs coming through to the second-hand fleet. At present there is a very small second-hand fleet in Ireland. They tend to be much older vehicles with significant battery degradation. We need to keep new vehicle sales coming through so that they follow through to the second-hand market two or three years later. The average family will then be able to purchase a three-year-old EV with a high-quality battery. Many of the vehicles now have battery warranties for seven to eight years. People will have security of mind and will know they will get another five years out of the battery.

I chair the EV policy pathway implementation group. A subgroup of that group is looking at how to activate and generate the second-hand market for EVs in Ireland. We have a challenge because many of this country's second-hand vehicles have traditionally come from the UK. Brexit has meant significant additional taxation charges because the UK is outside the EU VAT system. There are several elements to this. Another challenge is that with Covid many vehicle leasing and rental companies stopped purchasing new vehicles. This is one of the reasons we see such high car rental prices at present. They do not have sufficient vehicle demand.

We are working to see if we can get an incentivisation for those leasing fleets to start purchasing EVs. This is because, traditionally, those vehicles make their way into our second-hand market after two or three years. Therefore, regarding cost and affordability, getting the second-hand market right will help. The upfront cost of an EV is high. Even with our grants, a significant gap still remains between the cost of some EVs and equivalent ICE-powered vehicles. As more and more EVs come onto the market,, we will see those costs reduce. They are still higher than those for vehicles with internal combustion engines, but within a year or two - given the running costs and the difference between the low cost of running an EV and the increasingly high cost of running a petrol or diesel car - people will get their money back within a few years. This aspect will cause a switchover, as well as the cost of vehicles coming down.

Is it foreseeable that a situation will ever arise where it will be possible for me to drive into a forecourt, open a little pocket in the side of my car, wheel out the used battery and wheel in a new battery and take off?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Some vehicle manufacturers are piloting programmes where the batteries are rented. The battery technology, though, is of such a higher grade now, is improving so much and is able to power such long ranges that there is no need for such an approach. Batteries are also now capable of taking a very high-speed charge. Some of those coming on the market can take a 250 kW to 300 kW charge. This means that if it is possible to get a charging infrastructure to match that ability, which we will have in a few years, it will be possible to charge vehicles within five minutes and go. It will not be very different from the current petrol refuelling model. We are not at that point yet, but we will get there pretty quickly.

Okay. I must get Dr. O'Grady's number for the next time I am on the Ring of Kerry and I get lost.

While we are waiting for Deputy James O'Connor, I will ask some questions. I take Dr. O'Grady's point concerning people getting their money back. For average people, however, the initial capital outlay is number one. People who are well off can look at this equation over time. When ordinary people are buying cars, though, they are looking at how much of a trade-in value they will get for their present vehicle and at how much of a loan they will have to take out. I am not saying the running costs are entirely secondary, but they come behind.

I will start with the representatives of the ESB. On charging points, there is a general view among the public that there are not sufficient charging points in place. Where is it envisaged that this market will go in respect of there being charging points at different petrol stations, or I should say fuel or charging stations, as they will shortly be called? How does this situation stand now? How many charging points are in place? What are the challenges in this context? What is the situation regarding people being able to get the turbochargers that can recharge their EVs much faster? I would like to get the witnesses' perspective on these issues. I call Ms Ward.

Ms Suzanne Ward

I ask Mr. Byrne to take this question.

Mr. John Byrne

Our main investment under way is a €20 million programme. This is what we call the climate action fund, CAF, project. It is a joint investment of €10 million each by the Department and the ESB.

It is a joint venture.

Mr. John Byrne

It is jointly funded more than being a joint venture.

Okay. Who owns the charging points?

Mr. John Byrne

ESB e-cars owns them.

There is a State subsidy to enable it to get off the ground.

Mr. John Byrne


Where did the €10 million come from? Was it from the SEAI?

Mr. John Byrne

The CAF provided €10 million and that was matched by €10 million of the ESB's own money.

Mr. John Byrne

There are three elements to this undertaking. One element concerns refurbishing and speeding up the existing network of approximately 1,350 charging points.

Are they the ESB's own charging points?

Mr. John Byrne

Yes, and they are distributed right across the country.

What percentage of charging points has the ESB provided? I ask because there are also other, private operators.

Mr. John Byrne

There are, but they are smaller in terms of their aegis.

Is the ESB's share 80% or 90%?

Mr. John Byrne

Our provision is probably of that order in respect of the ownership of the charging points. We expect this to come down over time. Equally, other entities are allowed to roam on our networks. We have roaming agreements with other parties that might have a smaller number of chargers, perhaps 50 or 60. Those providers sign a roaming agreement with us.

What does that mean?

Mr. John Byrne

It means their customers can roam freely on our network. It is one of the principles-----

Okay. I have that now. It would mean I could use one of the ESB's charging points if I was driving by?

Mr. John Byrne


Mr. John Byrne

Over the last 18 months in particular, my focus and that of my team and ESB e-cars in general has been on the provision of high-powered charging. These are all 150 kW or 200 kW chargers.

Typically, how long would it take an average car to recharge?

Mr. John Byrne

It would take a new car about six minutes to charge up for 100 km.

It could take people charging their cars at home six to eight hours at night to do that. Am I correct?

Mr. John Byrne

Charging overnight would be required to charge a battery of that size.

Therefore, it would take six minutes to provide enough charge for 100 km.

Mr. John Byrne

Yes. It would take about 20 to 25 minutes to complete topping up the car.

How much would that cost?

Mr. John Byrne

It depends again on where people are. For the high-powered chargers, it costs about 46 cents per unit.

What does "per unit" mean?

Mr. John Byrne

It will cost about €27 to fully recharge a car.

Having spoken to taxi drivers, they have told me that it costs roughly €7.50 to €8 to fully charge up at night. Those drivers do that around three times weekly. The total comes out at roughly €30 weekly. Am I right about this?

Mr. John Byrne

Our calculations are based on approximately €11 to provide enough charge up to a range of 400 km at night, in those cases where people have the night tariff and the home charger, etc. The reason for the dearer tariff for the high-powered charging is-----

How many of those are up and running now?

Mr. John Byrne

We have 18 hubs around the country. The most prominent of those is probably on junction 14 on the N7. It is one of our primary hubs. They are all over, however. There is one in Athlone, we have one under construction-----

In the context of the 1,350 charging points, what is the target and plan for further roll-outs?

Mr. John Byrne

The immediate priority is to finish the CAF programme.

Is that the 1,350 charging points?

Mr. John Byrne

That is what is there. Everything we are going to do between now and the end of next year will be to finish the high-powered charging project.

Within existing charging points.

Mr. John Byrne

No. These will all be new.

How many charging points will the ESB have at the end of next year?

Mr. John Byrne

We will have approximately 1,450.

Okay. How much of the country will that cover?

Mr. John Byrne

It covers the entire country, excluding our chargers in Northern Ireland. I am just talking about the Republic.

Regarding the high-powered chargers that can provide enough charge for 100 km in six minutes, how many of the 1,450 charging points being provided will be of that kind?

Mr. John Byrne

There will be 52 hubs when the programme is finished.

That will be 52 of the 1,450-----

Mr. John Byrne

No, because there are multiple chargers at these hubs.

In the context of these 1,450 chargers, then, how many hubs will there be?

Mr. John Byrne

There will be 52 hubs.

Will all those 52 hubs have high-powered chargers?

Mr. John Byrne

Yes, that is correct. Most of them will also have multiple high-power chargers at those locations.

It is reckoned this will happen by the end of next year.

Mr. John Byrne


When was the €10 million drawn down?

Ms Suzanne Ward

It was 2019.

Mr. John Byrne

It was in 2019.

Ms Suzanne Ward

Not all that funding has been drawn down. It will continue to be drawn down over the lifetime of the project, up to next year.

This project will make an enormous difference.

Mr. John Byrne

We are already seeing it being noted in our customer surveys that the level of infrastructure is starting to increase. The number of transactions is also growing monthly, and most of that increase is in that high-powered context.

There are 1,350 charging points now. How many hubs are there?

Mr. John Byrne

We have 18.

This number is going to be increased to 52.

Mr. John Byrne


Turning now to the representatives from the SEAI, what grants are currently available to ordinary people wishing to replace their fossil fuel-powered cars with hybrid vehicles or EVs?

Mr. Declan Meally

There is nothing available for hybrid vehicles. For the full EVs, there is a grant of €5,000 for the purchase of a car.

It is €5,000-----

Mr. Declan Meally

That is off the price of the car.

Typically, what is the difference in price between cars that use fossil fuels, such as petrol and diesel, and comparable EV vehicles?

Mr. Declan Meally

In all fairness, because the prices of cars vary, this is like asking how long a piece of string is. The Renault Zoe, for example, is a small car and it costs €20,000. There is no direct equivalent, but, in the context of the €5,000 grant, a Ford Focus, for example, and similar models, might be the same type of car. There would still be a parity difference of about €3,000 or €4,000.

It may change as we go along. The point that we make is about the running costs of those cars. We have a comparison tool and a calculator on our website where people can input what their existing car is----

That is €5,000 for a new car.

Mr. Declan Meally


I am sorry. I know I am probably being a bit practical here but I want to get into the nuts and bolts.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Just to add to the information, that is €5,000 for the capital grant but people can also get a rebate on vehicle registration tax, VRT, of up to €5,000 for a battery electric vehicle.

For a full EV. There is nothing for hybrids.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady


That is potentially up to €10,000 off.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Off the on-the-road price, yes.

From speaking to the taxi people, there is €20,000 of a grant. That enabled people to change their cars. They got scrappage and then they got the grant. In terms of the cost they will save, by the time they come along to change in three to five years, they should be able to jump relatively comfortably. However, that is based on the €20,000 grant. Outside of that, do they get a refund on VRT as well?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Yes, I believe so.

It is very significant in the overall scheme.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

It is a very generous grant.

The Oireachtas Parliamentary Budget Office published an overview of EV incentives here compared with other countries. A lot of the other countries are pushing on motor tax, free parking and particular zones where people can drive. I am a believer in electric vehicles. They make eminent sense. However, whether it is real or not, people have concerns about the battery. Price is a major factor. They are the two key components that I find. Should we be giving higher grants to encourage people to take up EVs?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

My own feeling is that the rate of purchase increase of EVs is just about right. We are not seeing a market failure. We are not seeing people failing to purchase EVs. We are seeing a significant step-change year on year in the proportion of total vehicles that are either plug-in hybrid, that actually do not even receive a grant any more, or battery electric.

Would it be fair to say that a certain demographic is purchasing the EVs new?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I think there is a certain demographic anyway in Ireland that purchases new vehicles. Once we are talking about new vehicles we are already talking about a very particular demographic.

Point taken.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

When we are trying to get to the average family, our function and what we are trying to push there is the development of a second-hand EV market.

With the second-hand EV market there are no grants at the moment.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

There is no grant at the moment but it is something we will be looking at. The first problem is the availability of second-hand EVs.

Are there many coming on the market?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Not at the moment but we are only seeing that threshold of new vehicles being purchased in the last year or two.

Are there any coming in from the UK?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Very small numbers. The numbers have dropped significantly since the conclusion of the Brexit agreement, which has led to a very high VAT rate being charged on them coming in.

The other question that comes up may seem a bit spurious. In terms of safety, people cannot hear them. Has the Department looked at putting noise monitors on them?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

I drive a very old hybrid at the moment. I am waiting for my EV. When my hybrid is in electric mode, it is absolutely silent. During the starting and finishing of journeys it would be that way anyway. Back when these vehicles were coming on the market in 2006 or 2007, the idea of having some kind of bell, almost like a reversing sound, was put forward by some manufacturers but it never came through. I think there will be behavioural change among people when we are crossing roads that we do not just rely on our ears. I think that will come. There does not seem to be that push to put a sound in to alert pedestrians or cyclists.

We had the Estimates here and I think I recall that the Department was going to double the number of charging points from 400 to 800. Am I correct in that?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady


How does that link in with what ESB e-cars is doing?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

That is the public points scheme, which is the local authority delivery. It is separate from the e-cars investment.

Does the ESB have any involvement with the local authorities?

Mr. John Byrne

We do. We have close relationships predominantly with the four local authorities here in the Dublin metropolitan area. As our colleague just noted, they have just recently published their own strategy which we are aware of. We interact with them on a weekly or fortnightly basis, I would say, on the provision of additional infrastructure.

What role do the local authorities have in the provision of charging points? I want to understand. I worry about that ingredient. What role do they have?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

To be honest, their role is developing and changing. Their activity in this area is going to increase and they are aware of that. We have been working very closely with them on it. I think they have dealt with ESB e-cars as planning authorities more than anything else. With regard to the provision of high-power charging infrastructure, that is really----

Is planning permission required for those?

Mr. John Byrne

Yes, for the largest of the high-powered hubs, so 18 of the 52 will require planning permission.

Is it formal planning permission?

Mr. John Byrne


It is not a permit system but formal planning with the normal eight-week cycle for information.

Mr. John Byrne

Yes, people can object, absolutely.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

That has been the local authorities' role so far. What we are looking at now through the infrastructure strategy is really stepping up activity and responsibility by local authorities where they will be facilitators and enablers of the provision of residential charging and maybe even destination charging in their own self-owned car parks. On destination charging, we are not anticipating that local authorities will run and operate charge point systems. We anticipate that they will do the enabling works to get a site ready to go and then they will be able to enter into either a lease or concession agreement with a charge point operator to run that for them for the benefit of local residents. We will be looking at different business models.

When will we get to a point where the charging points become like petrol stations or diesel stations in that they are everywhere? Charging at home is a feature. I am assuming there are massive capital costs for the high-powered chargers. How many charging points are required in terms of the network in Ireland? There is going to be 1,450 charging points at 52 hubs. I am assuming there is one in every county.

Mr. John Byrne

There is more than one in every county.

The 52 would be roughly two in every county.

Mr. John Byrne

The hubs are distributed nationally but there are standard and fast charger sites planned in each county.

When Mr. Byrne talks about the 52 hubs, what is a hub?

Mr. John Byrne

A hub in essence has high-powered charging capability. The minimum number of cars that can charge simultaneously is three.

If there are going to be 52 hubs for multiple-vehicle charging, how many physical charging points will there be nationwide, even if there is only one in a location? There are 1,450 charging points and 52 hubs. Outside of that there will be much smaller areas.

Mr. John Byrne

I am not sure I understand.

Will the 1,450 charging points all be located within the 52 hubs?

Mr. John Byrne


That is the point. What is the total number of locations nationwide where someone will be able to drive to and access a charging point?

Mr. John Byrne

I would have to come back with the exact number but it is in the several hundreds.

At this moment in time what is the priority of the Department of Transport for the next 12 months? I get the charging points and I welcome the fast ones. That is great.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

We have several priorities. Before I comment on infrastructure specifically, I would like to return to the discussion we had earlier about perception. People feel that now is not the right time to switch to EVs. We want to run a public engagement and awareness piece about what an EV is really like. We will be working on a consumer and stakeholder engagement piece. In regard to infrastructure provision, there are three or four priorities for us. The home-charging scheme is running well. That is well managed by the SEAI. We will expand that to look at apartment charging. We have already said that. Some local authorities have already developed their EV strategies. For example, the Dublin ones have said they will roll out approximately 600 charging points by 2025 in the Dublin metropolitan area. They have developed that strategy so we want to work with them to begin to support and deliver that infrastructure.

How many local authorities have yet to develop strategies?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

The Dublin local authorities have developed them. Cork, Limerick, Galway and Offaly are in the process of developing them.

Are the only local authorities to have developed strategies in Dublin?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

The Dublin local authorities have published a strategy. We want to support the other local authorities in developing that strategy so that they are able to do a mapping exercise that tells them what types of infrastructure they need.

How long will that take?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Our feeling is we can probably get most of them done with the local authorities within nine to 12 months, depending on when-----

Good. There is an end-of-year deadline in regard to charging.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

Separately, the high-power charging-----

No, I always look at deadlines. At the end of the day, the charging points are key if we are to expedite this, as is the infrastructure of the local authorities. I will go back to Mr. Meally on the people charging at home. What grants do they get?

Mr. Declan Meally

They get €600 towards the cost of the home charger grant.

Roughly what does a home charger cost?

Mr. Declan Meally

It costs between €1,000 and €1,200 depending on the type of charger that they choose.

Is there any area where that can be a bit like Irish Water, dare I say it, and you can have charging points being brought to the door? Will they just run off their home supply? Is that how it will evolve?

Mr. Declan Meally

It will just be running off the home supply. If you are home-metered you will be metered from the meter and that will be the cheapest place to take the electricity from.

A further point for Dr. O'Grady relates to second-hand cars. There is huge scope there. Is a defined policy being drawn up in that area?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

A subgroup of our implementation team has been established specifically to look at the just transition elements. That takes into account rural Ireland and the second-hand market.

What is the timeframe on that?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

That group will produce a report to the Government by the end of the year so we would expect proposals in that timeframe.

That is great. I have a final point for Ms Ward regarding ESB e-cars. What is the overall role of the ESB in the roll-out of this network? Is there another section within the ESB that will have an involvement here as well?

Ms Suzanne Ward

ESB Networks will be heavily involved in the network infrastructure to make sure e-cars can be devolved throughout the country. We are representing ESB e-cars here today. It is actually about putting in the chargers. As Mr. Byrne said, it is about putting in 1,400 charging points throughout the country and then having the charging and pricing as well.

Do you link back into ESB Networks to make certain that where you are looking at charging points it is able to deal with the supply issue?

Ms Suzanne Ward

That comes from ESB Networks and through the Department of Transport. That is open to everybody. Regardless of whether it is the forecourts or other operators, everybody has the same access to the network.

At this moment in time, ESB Networks is by a mile the biggest operator in the market.

Ms Suzanne Ward

We are the biggest operator in the market at the moment. As part of our net-zero strategy, we want to play a significant role in the e-cars charging infrastructure.

I will go back to Mr. Brennan on the hybrid versus battery situation. Will he explain that to me? I am the ordinary Joe Bloggs who really wants to understand this in a very unscientific way.

Mr. Graham Brennan

You have to make hydrogen. If we make it in Ireland, we are going to make it from renewable electricity.

That is correct, offshore power.

Mr. Graham Brennan

Electricity is going out. One part of it goes into a battery in a car and the other part goes into making hydrogen. Hydrogen goes into a fuel cell and it drives the car. That efficiency is about 50%. The battery is about 87%.

What does Mr. Brennan mean by "efficiency"?

Mr. Graham Brennan

It means the energy out versus the energy in.

In terms of climate change-----

Mr. Graham Brennan

You lose 15% with the battery. You lose nearly 50% with the fuel cell.

Which is more carbon-friendly?

Mr. Graham Brennan

If both of them were climate zero, you would have to pay twice the amount of energy to go the same distance.

Does Mr. Brennan think hydrogen could have a role in aviation?

Mr. Graham Brennan

Yes, I think so.

Mr. Graham Brennan

When you fly, batteries are too heavy and you need energy density. The fuel cell will still be electric and you will have no-----

Mr. Declan Meally

In our analysis, we see hydrogen as generally post 2030 for specific areas such as aviation, shipping and high-temperature requirements in industry, where industry requires a high temperature. It is specifically niche whereas if you run it through private cars you need to have a gas network and a fuel network. We already have an electricity network so it makes much more sense for us for EVs from that point of view.

Can Dr. O'Grady deal with the roll-out of the network to ensure the infrastructure is there for whoever is coming in, with e-cars etc., to tap into it. Who regulates the cost at which they pay for electricity? How does that work?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

The regulation of the cost of the network is done by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities. It manages that at the moment. At the moment, the electricity market does not have regulated costs. It is based on competition. The roll-out of the network will be done in conjunction with ourselves, as we move to set up ZEVI, and ESB Networks. ESB Networks is part of that group and sits on the assurance board. There a good deal of governance within that office. It sits on all levels of the governance. We will be working closely with ESB Networks. It has asked us to work with the local authorities and the people who apply for destination chargers, for example, to get a sense of the map of EV infrastructure demands. We work with it to prioritise that in term of grid access and grid connections.

Is there a bottleneck there? Would that be a basis that would slow down the roll-out of the network?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

There will be some quick wins. There will be places on the network where the grid is ready to go. Where we know we want to put infrastructure there, where it is a suitable place for infrastructure and we know the network can support it, we will move on that quickly.

How quickly until the Department will have a full map of the network requirements?

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

That will not happen until the local authorities are finished that analysis.

Dr. Aoife O'Grady

For some local authorities, we will have it almost straight away. For others, it will be another year away. I anticipate that within 12 months we will have a map of the network, a map of where the network will be by 2025, for example, and then a staged year-on-year implementation plan for getting there.

I would like to return to a matter referred to by Mr. Meally. What is the saving per year of running a full EV car as opposed to a fossil fuel car?

Mr. Declan Meally

There is a car comparator on our website. On average, we say there is a 70% cost saving from running an EV versus a petrol or diesel vehicle. When you start looking at buying the car and add in the running costs as well as the ownership costs, the total cost of owning and running an electric car, including the price, is much less. Many of the dealers are able to use this comparator in order to say actually, when you buy a car, your cost repayments are much less than your payments for petrol and diesel and your fuel costs. There is no servicing cost or anything like that.

Typically, what is the lifespan of a new EV car? When people buy a new car, typically they change it every three or five years.

Mr. Declan Meally

The car manufacturers are giving seven- to eight-year warranties for the car batteries alone.

Therefore, there should be a very vibrant second-hand car market.

Mr. Declan Meally

There is, but the challenge with the second-hand market is actually getting the first-hand market established.

As Dr. O'Grady said about the market, only a certain amount of people buy these cars. More people would buy them if they could get them. We are at a tipping point because people are doing their sums and saying this scheme is quite good.

A person who has received the €5,000, and got the other money back, can trade in his or her car. The next person gets whatever-----

Mr. Declan Meally


Will a person who buys a second new EV be allowed to receive a fresh set of grants?

Mr. Declan Meally

One gets the grant for every new car. It has been suggested that there could be a grant for a second-hand vehicle, but the car will already have received the grant so the benefit is passed on to the next person. People can see that the price was originally reduced.

My suggestion would encourage people to buy EVs.

Mr. Declan Meally

People who change their car every two or three years will have no problem getting the grant for the next car.

We will follow up this matter. This debate is the start of a process for us. The witnesses have been very helpful. I apologise for the delay at the start of this meeting. I thank the officials from the Department of Transport, the SEAI and the ESB for assisting us in our discussion on this important matter now and into the future. The committee will be in contact with the Department about this matter as soon as possible.

The joint committee adjourned at 4.41 p.m. until 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 20 July 2022.