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 Header Item Electric Vehicles (Continued)
 Header Item Electric Vehicles

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 997 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Neale Richmond: Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond] A scheme to support the installation of on-street charging points for EVs opened for applications from local authorities in September 2019. The funding supports the rolling out by local authorities of up to 1,000 on-street public charging points for EVs over the next five years, including up to 400 such points this year. The scheme is administered by the SEAI and caters mainly for electric vehicle owners who rely on on-street car parking as their primary means of parking near home. I am referring not only to the Deputy’s case; I refer also to where charging is not yet possible, such as along a row of terraced houses.

So far, I have been disappointed with the level of uptake by local authorities. I only discovered these figures yesterday in preparing to answer this question. All Deputies should be contacting their local authorities to ensure that they are aware of what they can do. The level of uptake by and the number of applications from local authorities to date have been very low. One way to see an improvement would be to get the local authorities to avail of the funding that exists but that is not being utilised.

Deputy Neale Richmond: Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond I want to take the Minister up on the challenge of engaging with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. We rightly look to local authorities but we must also consider the community example. One of the great successes in recent years has involved communities. An example, which may seem trivial by comparison with some initiatives associated with the Department, concerns the way local communities have been able to come together to provide defibrillators across towns and villages, not just in rural areas. I refer, in particular, to my own area. A defibrillator was used to save a life not too long ago in Stepaside village, as the Minister may be aware. Is there a facility for communities to come together to consider electric charging points without necessarily relying on the local authority? It could involve business groups that share a car parking facility, for example. It is matter of making sure that as many charging points as possible are made available.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan This refers to the earlier question on solar power. Under the SEAI sustainable communities programme, a range of communities around the country are considering innovative mechanisms to develop clean energy supplies. That would be a mechanism for the Deputy's community, or any other, in seeking to develop solutions.

EV sales to date have been relatively slow by comparison with what we expected but the period of slow uptake will come to an end. We are going to see all the car companies starting to deliver a variety of EV choices in the coming year. EVs are better cars and the costs of fuel and maintenance are a fraction of those associated with other cars. Electric cars are going to be the future of motoring. Local communities, particularly those that find it difficult to get charging infrastructure, which are very often in urban areas, will best tap into the system through the community responses. It is through the SEAI community schemes that we can best manage that.

Electric Vehicles

 66. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Minister for Climate Action and Communication Networks Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if he will report on the implementation of EV charging points nationwide since funding was announced in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25148/20]

Deputy Jennifer Whitmore: Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore In 2019, the then Minister with responsibility for communications announced expenditure of €20 million to upgrade EV charging points across the country and stated that this was to give confidence to people such that if they were to buy an EV, the relevant infrastructure would be available when needed. Will the current Minister provide an update on the implementation of the programme for upgrading EV charging points nationwide since the funding was announced, and could he make a statement on the matter?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I thank the Deputy for the question. She is correct that the Government is fully committed to supporting the significant expansion and modernisation of the EV charging network over the coming years as part of an overall suite of measures to deliver the programme for Government goal of significantly decarbonising our transport fleet.

We have committed €10 million from the climate action fund to promote the charging network, and this has leveraged a further €10 million investment from ESB to reach the €20 million fund the Deputy mentioned. This intervention will result in: 90 additional high-power 150 kW chargers, each capable of charging two vehicles; 52 additional fast chargers, which may replace existing 22 kW standard chargers; and 264 replacement standard chargers, powered to the level of 22 kW, with more modern technology and with each consisting of two charge points.

To date, 159 of the 22 kW chargers have been replaced, and the programme to upgrade 22 kW chargers to 50 kW chargers has commenced, with ten installations in place. In addition, the first three multi-charger sites have been delivered, one each in Galway, on the M6, Kildare, on the M9, and Laois, on the M7. A number of other multi-charger sites are at planning and design stage. Details of these network upgrades and an interactive map showing ESB charger locations can be found on the ESB website.

In addition to the ESB project, my Department provides support through the SEAI public charge point scheme. This scheme has been in place since September 2019 to provide funding to local authorities for the development of on-street chargers, as I stated in my response to the preceding question. The primary focus of this scheme is to provide support for the installation of infrastructure that will facilitate owners of EVs who do not have access to a private parking space, but who rely on parking on public streets, so they charge their EVs near their homes.

With regard to Wicklow Council, to date the response from local authorities has been very low. This is a well-supported and well-funded project and it is designed to make it easy for the councils to do the right thing. If the Deputy could encourage Wicklow County Council to take part, it would be a big help.

Deputy Jennifer Whitmore: Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore In the 18 months since the announcement of the EV upgrade proposal, out of the target 264 charging points that were to be upgraded to 22 kW, only 159 have been delivered. On the target of having 52 charging points upgraded to 50 kW points, only ten have been delivered. As far as I can see, none of the 90 high-power charging points has been delivered so far. That is in 18 months. Even given the delays that inevitably happened because of Covid, this demonstrates that the rolling out of the programme has been painfully slow and not adequate enough.

In countries where there is a high uptake of EVs, the infrastructure was in place before the cars. In Ireland, we are doing it the other way round. We expect people to buy cars without having the infrastructure in place for them. I ask that the Minister provide additional resources to ensure the speedy implementation of this programme. It is important that it be implemented.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I have full confidence in the ESB to deliver on its commitments in this regard. Ireland was actually one of the first countries in the world to get a national network. To go back ten or 12 years, the ESB was one of the first companies in this area with real expertise. Back in 2009, we signed an agreement with Renault-Nissan, I believe, and developed genuine expertise in the ESB in respect of charging networks and infrastructure, to the extent that when Transport for London sought a company to commission to roll out its network of fast chargers for the London electric taxi fleet, the ESB won the contract. As a result, I have every confidence in the ESB that it will be able to deliver on this and more. The restriction here will not concern funding; the restriction, as I stated, is more administrative in terms of getting planning permission and getting the local authorities and others involved. The ESB is well up for this and well able to do it. I believe it will deliver.

Deputy Jennifer Whitmore: Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore I am not sure what is causing it, but there is a delay in getting this rolled out. There is approximately the same number of charging points now as when the ESB first rolled out these points, yet there are many more cars on the road. Therefore, there is a problem. It would be worthwhile determining what the barriers are.

In the context of local authorities, I have spoken to Wicklow County Council about this matter. Only 75% of the cost of installing the charging points is met by the Government so the council has to find the remaining 25%. Councils are struggling because of Covid, the reduction in rates and the position regarding rent. They are experiencing major financial difficulties and I do not believe they will have the resources to do what is desired. We are not staying ahead of demand. There is no charging point in the whole Greystones district, which has 20,000 people, or in west Wicklow. This is an area that we should really focus on.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The Government has been supportive of local authorities through this most difficult time. Regarding the loss of commercial rates, the Government is guaranteeing to step in and offer support. The grant provided by the Government, of 75%, is significant in terms meeting the overall cost.

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