Providing a sustainable, low-carbon transport system is a key priority of my Department. The Programme for Government commits to 7% average annual emissions reduction to 2030; ultimately, the goal is for a zero-emission mobility system by 2050. Electrification will be key to achieving this objective in the transport sector.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the most prominent transport mitigation measure in the Climate Action Plan, and Ireland has set an ambitious target of 945,000 EVs on our roads by 2030. This target is challenging but indicates the scale of the transformation that is needed across all sectors if Ireland is to achieve its climate targets in the coming years.
Considerable progress has been made, as a result of the work of the Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce, to ensure that conditions and policies are in place to support citizens in making greener vehicle choices. As the Deputy will be aware, a comprehensive suite of measures is available to EV drivers, including purchase grants for private car owners and taxi drivers, VRT relief, reduced tolls, home charger grants, favourable motor and BIK tax rates, as well as a comprehensive charging network. These measures have collectively contributed to increased take up of EVs in Ireland in recent years, albeit from a low base, to over 47,500 now.
In addition, my Department convened the Electric Vehicle Policy Pathway (EVPP) Working Group to produce a roadmap to achieving the 2030 EV target. The EVPP Working Group comprises senior officials and has considered regulatory, financial, and taxation policies to help drive a significant ramp-up in passenger EVs and electric van sales.
The recommendations of the EVPP Working Group were approved by Government and the full report is available online.
The Working Group examined the issue of price parity between EVs and ICE vehicles. The Report finds that there is divergence within the research community as to when TCO in economic terms cost parity will be achieved with some studies estimating that it is likely to occur in the middle of this decade, driven by falling battery prices and savings due to economies of scale, while others
argue that the cross-over point may not occur until towards the end of the decade.
In the meantime, in order to support the transition to EVs, the Group recommended that:
- The generous suite of EV supports already in place in Ireland should be retained until at least end-2022. Additional measures to further incentivise EVs and/or disincentivise fossil fuelled vehicles will also be necessary. Cost-effective, targeted policy supports should continue to be developed and strengthened over the coming years; and
- An Office for Low Emission Vehicles should be established, as a matter of priority, to co-ordinate the implementation of existing and future EV measures and infrastructure. The new Office should also take charge of developing and launching an extensive communication and engagement campaign, whole of Government in coverage, to drive the availability and understanding of key information regarding EVs, tailored to household, business and public sector consumers.
Overall, the Department is acutely aware that the cost of electric vehicles remains an issue for many consumers. To this end, electric vehicle policy is being kept under continuous review to endeavour to make low emission vehicles affordable.
The Deputy will be aware that the Government is fully committed to supporting a significant expansion and modernisation of the electric vehicle charging network over the coming years. A national charging infrastructure strategy is due for publication early next year which will set out a pathway to stay ahead of demand over the critical period out to 2030.
I am also aware that a report was published by the CCMA on the provision of guidance to local authorities on the provision of charging infrastructure. The document is available for viewing online at www.lgma.ie/en/publications/general-publications/local-authority-electrification-of-fleet-and-ev-charging-guidance.pdf
In terms of existing supports for public charging, the Public Charge Point Scheme continues to be available during 2021 to provide local authorities with a grant of up to €5,000 to support the development of on-street public chargers. The primary focus of the scheme is to provide support for the installation of infrastructure which will facilitate owners of electric vehicles, who do not have access to a private parking space, but instead rely on parking their vehicles in public places near their homes to charge their EVs. My Department is reviewing the Scheme at present to ensure that it is as effective as possible in driving the decarbonisation effort.
Having an effective and reliable recharging network is essential to enabling drivers to choose electric. Charging at home is the most convenient and cheapest way to recharge. Targeting the installation of smart home chargers is a priority as we look to moving towards more energy efficient and sustainable ways to charge. A grant is available from the SEAI for those individuals seeking to install a home charger. Work is currently being progressed to expand the EV home charger grant to include shared parking in apartment blocks and similar developments. My Department is working closely with the SEAI and expects a scheme for apartments to open in the near future.
There is also a need for a seamless public charging network that will provide for situations or instances where home charging is not possible such as on-street and residential charging, destination charging, and workplace charging.
€10 million was committed from the Climate Action Fund to support ESB investment in the charging network and this has leveraged a further €10 million investment from ESB, with the infrastructure to be in place by the end of 2022. This intervention alone will result in:
- 90 additional high power chargers, each capable of charging two vehicles
- 52 additional fast chargers, which may replace existing standard chargers
- 264 replacement standard chargers with more modern technology and with each consisting of two charge points
Further details on the progression of this project can be found at esb.ie/ecars/our-network/network-upgrades.
My Department is also developing a new scheme which will support the installation of destination charge points in locations such as hotels, visitor centres and parks. This new initiative will help provide another critical link in the overall network for public charging.
The Department is aware of initiatives to retrofit internal combustion engine cars to electric vehicles, and is giving the matter active consideration. Innovations that provide reliable solutions for people willing to transition to electric vehicles are to be welcomed, particularly if they provide options for people who might be unable to purchase a new vehicle.
There are various measures to consider when determining the effectiveness of this type of initiative. Department officials are actively engaging with car conversion companies on this matter.