Electric car owners using free public charge points

Many electric car owners are using free public charging points as the main source to power their vehicles with one motorist charging his vehicle more than 230 times at such a location in a seven-month period.

The results of a pilot project on the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in the Republic indicate some motorists are making extensive use of the network of free, fast charging points, despite the fact that the annual cost of charging their vehicle at home is estimated at just €260.

However, they also reveal that the overall use of the public charging infrastructure is still relatively low.

An analysis of usage of six fast charging points located at motorway stops on the M1 and M4 in 2014 show that less than one vehicle used each location on average each day. The average time spent using the fast charging point was around 25 minutes.

At one test location in Dun Laoghaire, 111 EV owners had used the facility on 1,118 occasions between June and December 2014 — an average of over five vehicles per day.

One EV owner charged his vehicle more than 230 times — more than once every day — while six other motorists used the free charging between 60 and 80 times.

Although charging points were only in use 11% of the time, the ESB said there was still evidence of queuing at certain times.

There are around 900 public charging points located nationwide, of which around 70 are fast charging.

The ESB has proposed that it should be allowed to operate the charging network on a commercial basis.

However, proposals to introduce a minimum monthly charge of €16.99 to use public charging points were scrapped earlier this year as the Commission for Energy Regulation assesses the future of the public charging network amid concerns of the need to main incentive to accelerate sales of EVs.

The ESB has warned that any change which would reduce the fast charging infrastructure was likely to “damage uptake for a number of years.”

According to the ESB, if there was any reduction in the network, it would have a direct impact on the ability of existing EV owners to use their vehicles, while the sale value of such cars was also likely to fall significantly.

Although the State had set a target that electric vehicles would account for 20% of all new car sales by 2020 which would mean around 50,000 EVs, it is widely considered that the figure is unlikely to be achieved.

The ESB has estimated that with policy supports the number of EVs in the Republic could reach 32,000 by the year 2020.

A recent survey of EV drivers in Ireland and the UK found that 68 per cent would not have bought their vehicle without the availability of a nationwide network of fast charging points.

Increased use of EVs is regarded as a vital component in the government’s strategy for Ireland to meet a binding 10 per cent target for renewable energy in transport by 2020 set by the EU.

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