The Irish government has just announced its Climate Action Plan with the overall goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. It features a raft of measures to reach this aim and the incentivisation of electric vehicles is a core part of the plan. As a key barrier to EV purchase is range anxiety, what are governments doing to tackle the development of the charging network needed to support all of these new EVs they hope consumers will purchase?
On a practical level, the Irish government pledges to fund over 90 high-powered chargers at key locations on the national road network, the installation of 50 new fast chargers, and replacement of over 250 standard chargers. Councils will be provided with greater capital investment by the end of 2019 to develop up to 200 on-street chargers for electric vehicles annually.
When it comes to incentivising business and consumers, the plans are promising but less concrete. Planning legislation changes will require developers to install at last one EV Charger per non-residential building where there is more than ten parking spaces and multiple chargers where there is more than 20 spaces. There will be a concerted effort to work with retailers to rapidly expand the charging network on garage forecourts. The current grant of €600 towards the installation of a domestic charger may be extended to apartment blocks, along with requirements to install charging points to non-residential buildings with more than 20 car spaces. Backing all of this up will be a major public-facing campaign to 'to drive consumer confidence in the availability and reliability of public charging infrastructure'. This framework will hopefully be followed by some legislation and policy action points.
The UK Government launched the Road to Zero strategy was launched in July 2018 with an overarching mission 'for at least 50% - and as many as 70% - of new car sales to be ultra low emission by 2030, alongside up to 40% of new vans'. The plan pledges to enable a massive roll out of charging infrastructure to support this aim. This includes working towards requirements for charging points to be built in new homes and new lampposts to include charging stations. A £400m charging investment fund would facilitate the growth of this infrastructure, providing funds to new and existing companies who produce and install charging points. Grants for workplace charger installation would be increased in value so that people can charge at work.
So far the government has awarded £25m from the investment fund for a group of projects working 'to decarbonise transport in the UK'. There are currently 23,978 charging connectors in 8825 locations in the UK, up from 16,012 connector points in 5535 locations this time last year, a significant increase. It also means that there are now more charging point stations in the UK than there are petrol stations. Fast and rapid chargers have experienced the strongest growth. However with a goal of 1 million EVs by the end of 2022, the network needs to keep a solid pace to ensure overall targets can be reached. There have been reports that up to a quarter of local authorities have stopped rolling out new EV charging points, with budget cuts coming into play. This shows the necessity of legislation to drive these ambitious plans forward.