High cost of installing electric car chargers at forecourts ‘puts emissions targets at risk’

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Filling stations are concerned about how “astronomical” costs to install electric vehicle (EV) charging points and the delays in connecting these to the grid could pose a risk to the State’s ability to meet future emissions targets.

epresentative groups want access to improved electricity grid information so they can identify sites where there is sufficient power capacity to install the technology.

They also want the Government to help them fund investment in the infrastructure and to support greater use of biofuels to reduce emissions from petrol and diesel vehicles on the road.

Some filling station owners say they discovered there was insufficient energy capacity at proposed electric vehicle charging locations after paying for preliminary work to be carried out.

Representative groups said better information on the electricity grid would prevent such problems and cut costs.

Some super-fast charger hubs require energy resources comparable to a housing development or factory, making it challenging to connect these to some parts of the electricity network, the ESB says.

Kevin McPartlan of Fuels for Ireland, which represents forecourt operators and fuel providers, said the Government could do more to support those in the sector.

He said the Government’s plans to reduce emissions should also become less dependent on new innovations and it should further examine reducing the output from vehicles already on the road by supporting the use of biofuels.

A failure to address issues with the delivery of EV chargers will also affect the State’s future emissions targets, Mr McPartlan said.

“We are the people who provide the fastest chargers available in Ireland. That is what we want to do more of, and yet the network is not up to it, the data on the network is not up to it, the costs are astronomical,” he said. 

“The Climate Action Fund needs to be available to our members so we can use government support to provide EV charging, particularly in places where it is least commercially advantageous and/or where the consumer need is greatest — high-density areas where there is a lack of off-street parking.”

A second industry body, the Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA), said a recent survey of its members showed significant concerns about EV charger costs and the availability of power.

Spokesman David Blevings said better co-ordination, “data sharing, more funding and clarity around return on investment” would help the rollout of EV chargers.

An ESB subsidiary, ESB Networks, manages applications to connect chargers to the electricity distribution system. ESB said it encourages businesses investing in EV infrastructure to engage with it “at an early stage so that our engineers can plan appropriately”.

A Department of Transport spokeswoman said an updated renewable transport fuels policy will be published next year, taking account of biofuel usage between 2023 and 2025, sustainability targets and recent climate research.

The Government’s Zero Emission Vehicles Ireland (ZEVI) office is engaging with organisations including forecourt operators to enhance the provision of EV technologies.

She said significant funding will be available through this office next year to support the installation of EV chargers and new initiatives to link the public charging network, including a plan to develop a high-powered charging network along motorways.

The Department of Environment said this “will alleviate lingering public concerns around range anxiety”. It said the ZEVI “will create the best possible conditions” for installing charging points with funding and supports “tailored to the specific needs of the sector”.

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