Street lamps could offer hope for electric car rollout

The trial use of street lamps as electric car charging points is expected to lead to a quicker national rollout of power-up options for drivers and an increased changeover to emission-free vehicles.

Electric car drivers will be able to plug into lamp posts over the summer in south Dublin when Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown starts a pilot project. Dublin City Council is also exploring installing lamp post chargers in the Docklands area.

Environment Minister Denis Naughten confirmed the plans are being finalised and if the simple-to-use new technology is successful it could overhaul charging facilities nationwide.

If this trial works, it will radically change the accessibility of charging infrastructure for electric vehicle owners in this country, which will drive up sales and bring us closer and sooner to a low carbon future that is not dependent on fossil fuels,” said Mr Naughten.

The provision of charging points for electric vehicles on street lamps may be a solution for drivers living in homes not suitable for charging points — such as terraced houses without front gardens or driveways where cables would have to stretch across footpaths.

Pilot projects, particularly in Germany, have seen charge points put in lamps on the sides of the roads and now Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown is to set up a charge point in a street lamp within two months on Crofton Rd, close to the railway station in the coastal suburb.

The other advantages is that such points are installed on existing electricity supplies and are cheaper to set up. Dublin City Council is also examining installing lamp post chargers in the Docklands area in co-operation with the ESB.

The latest figures from the Department of Environment estimate that there are now some 5,400 electric vehicles in use in Ireland, including hybrid models.

Nonetheless, there are concerns that the Government keeps revising down its targets for electric vehicles. In 2008, the aim was that electric vehicles would make up 10% of the national car fleet — equivalent to more than 200,000 — by 2020. This has been reduced to just 20,000.

Fianna Fail’s national resources spokesman Aindrias Moynihan has now predicted there will be just 8,000 electric vehicles on the roads by 2020. He said range anxiety remained a big issue and the inadequate network contributed significantly to that.

Meanwhile, Mr Naughten this week will also bring plans to Cabinet to extend the warmer homes energy scheme, which provides free energy efficiency upgrades to homes and to carers.

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