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Government invests €20m to supply 50 new electric car charging points - is it enough?

The investment also included an upgrade of charging hubs at 50 locations, so that they charge electric cars faster.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced a €20 million investment to provide 50 charging hubs across the country along motorways and national roads.

The hubs will be able to charge between two to eight vehicles simultaneously and are capable of providing up to 100km of driving in six minutes.

As part of the investment, around 50 locations will also see Standard 22kW AC chargers upgraded to 50kW DC fast chargers, which means cars can be charged faster.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton made the announcement today, saying that the aim was “to tackle ‘range anxiety’ and encourage drivers to make the switch to electric vehicles”.

This network will be able to facilitate the public charging requirements of hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

“This investment gives people confidence that they can make the switch. Now is the time,” Bruton said.

But is it enough?

ESB A map of the spread of charging ports in Ireland. Source: Department of Communications

“It is welcome, it is a good news story, and we approve of what they’re doing,” Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said of the announcement. “But I think they should be going further.”

There are 5,444 electric vehicles in Ireland, and around 1,200 charging ports before this announcement. Ryan says that at the moment, the spread of electric car hubs are “typically stronger in Dublin than in the southwest and northwest”.

“The way to implement change without forcing a huge charge on taxpayer, is mandate that shopping centres, car parks and petrol stations to put them in.

You have these huge petrol stations, with 20 to 30 filling pumps, along the motorway. So when you’re above a certain number, you have to provide, say, five charging ports.

He says that for shopping centres near major motorways, such as Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, the State provided “a huge gain for them” by providing a road network nearby, and that this was a way of giving back.

I don’t see a reason why for every 100 car parking spaces, the business shouldn’t provide five electric vehicle charging points. It’s a cost to the business certainly, but it’s also an attraction to the business.

“That regulatory approach is the next step,” he said.

But is the demand there? Is there a need for more charging points if there aren’t the volume of electric cars on the roads to use them?

“This is one where you have to invest ahead of demand,” Ryan said. “It’d be far worse that the increase in electric vehicle sales outpaced the charging ports, then you’d have a situation where they were running out of fuel.”

“You need to be investing a year or two ahead of demand,” Ryan said.

The ESB project is 50% financed by the Government’s Climate Action Fund, approved by Environment Minister Richard Bruton, with the other half funded by ESB ecars. This ESB project is one of seven projects  for funding under the Climate Action Fund. 

The Department said that the sites for the new charging hubs will be chosen using software mapping techniques, taking account of information on current charge point usage, traffic volume, accessibility, amenities and grid capacity at the sites.

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