Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Questions (264)

Eamon Ryan


264. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the management and maintenance of the electric vehicle charging network. [4915/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The ESB, through its eCars programme, has rolled out both publicly accessible charging infrastructure and domestic charge points for electric vehicles (EVs).  There are approximately 900 EV charge points in Ireland of which circa 70 are rapid chargers.  The maintenance and management of these charge points is an operational matter for the ESB. The Commission for Regulation of Utilities, following a public consultation process, published its independent regulatory decision in relation to electric vehicle charging infrastructure in October 2017, providing clarity regarding the ownership, operation, maintenance and investment required in the public EV charging network.

A key outcome of the decision is that the charging network should not form part of the regulated asset base and expansions of the network should not be funded from network charges.  This is in keeping with the proposals set out by the European Commission in the Clean Energy for All Europeans package which was published in 2016.  While the regulatory decision envisages the sale of the infrastructure by ESB Networks in the long-term, the continued ownership of the charging network by ESB Networks for a transitional period of up to ten years is provided for in order to safeguard those who rely on public electric vehicle charging infrastructure and result in as little impact to the network as possible in the short to medium term. 

In terms of developing public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in the future, the decision sets out the need for charging infrastructure to operate on a commercial basis.   Currently, recharging electric vehicles at public charge points is free and unlimited.  This provision of free fuel for electric vehicles, funded by electricity consumers, is not sustainable in the longer term particularly as the number of EVs increases.  At the same time, it is important that if payments for use of public charge points are introduced in the future, they are at a level which does not disincentivise the uptake of electric vehicles. 

I secured additional funding in Budget 2018 to support the provision of public charging.  The Low Emissions Vehicle Taskforce, which is co-chaired by my Department and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, is considering a range of options for effective and efficient EV charging. The key objectives are supporting the operation of the existing charging network and facilitating the expansion of the network, with a particular focus on increasing the number of fast chargers.  The Taskforce held a stakeholder workshop in November 2017 to explore issues related to the future requirements for the public charging infrastructure. This workshop included representatives of EV owners, the motor industry, local authorities and other key stakeholders. Invaluable feedback was provided which will assist the taskforce in devising a sustainable policy framework for effective and efficient electric vehicle charging.