The lack of adequate electric vehicle (EV) charge point infrastructure in rural Ireland raises serious doubts about the government’s ability to deliver on the Climate Action Plan’s commitment to have almost one million EVs on Irish roads by 2030.
Research carried out by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA), one of Ireland’s three regional assemblies, has examined the number of publicly available EV charge points for each county on the island of Ireland.
The NWRA has also, in collaboration with the survey company Ireland Thinks, undertaken a survey of residents based in rural and urban areas of the Northern and Western region for their opinions on EVs and EV charge point infrastructure
The analysis outlines to policymakers what is needed to encourage a greater uptake of EVs and reduce dependence on fossil fuel-powered vehicles in rural regions.
The Climate Action Plan sets targets that require a transformation in how we travel and connect our communities. EVs can help meet these targets as improvements in battery technology and market offerings have made EVs a viable low-carbon alternative for rural residents who typically lack access to public transport.
According to the report on EV charge point infrastructure:
The Northern and Western region (Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Leitrim, Roscommon, Monaghan and Cavan) has 488 publicly available EV charge points. Northern Ireland has 529, the Southern region has 920 and the Eastern and Midland region has 1,261.
The counties with the highest number of publicly available EV charge points were Dublin (639), Antrim (240), Cork (239), Kildare (174) and Galway (172), with the lowest number located in Leitrim (8), Longford (19), Monaghan (24), Offaly (27) and Fermanagh (29).
In addition to it being the most rural-oriented region under Project Ireland 2040, the Northern and Western Region registered the lowest concentration of publicly available EV charge points per km2 on the island of Ireland.
The survey of 559 residents of the Northern and Western regions found that:
79% were “very unlikely” to buy a new EV within the next 12 months, with only 3% “very likely” to buy a new EV in the same period.
If the government were to increase the maximum grant rate for EV purchases from €5,000 to €10,000, the percentage of respondents that were “very likely” to purchase an EV within the next 12 months rises from 3% to 12%, while those that were “very unlikely” to purchase an EV within a year falls from 79% to 49%.
If more “Fast” EV charge points were provided, the percentage of respondents “very unlikely” to buy a new EV in the next 12 months drops from 79% to 57%, while those that were “very likely” to purchase an EV within the next 12 months rises from 3% to 11%.
31% felt that every village and town should have at least two EV charge points to encourage a greater uptake of EVs and to reduce “range anxiety”, with 20% of respondents feeling that at least two EV charge points was needed for every 5 kms, while 18% of respondents felt that at least one EV charge point was needed in every petrol station.
The NWRA is making the following recommendations to address the issue:
Enhance provisions under the Climate Action Fund so more EV charge points can be installed in the Northern and Western Region, particularly Fast and High-powered EV charge points.
Ensure EV charge points are deployed in accessible locations – while there should be at least 2 publicly available EV charge points for every village and town in the region.
Remove the co-financing requirement for the Electric Vehicle Public Charge Point Grant for Local Authorities based in the Northern and Western Region.
Implement regionally-targeted grants for EV purchases valued between €20,000 and €60,000 so residents of rural regions receive higher grant rates than their urban counterparts.
Explore increasing the maximum grant of €5,000 for EV purchases valued between €20,000 and €60,000 and examine the merits of enhancing other financial reliefs.
Launch a regional promotional campaign across the Northern and Western Region to highlight government supports and grants available to purchase an EV.
According to John Daly, Economist with the Northern and Western Regional Assembly:
“The roll out of publicly available EV charge points needs to be dramatically improved across Ireland if the government is to deliver one million EVs on Irish roads by 2030, particularly in rural regions such as the Northern and Western Region.
“Our research has found that the lack of publicly available EV charge points is one of the key factors discouraging people from the Northern and Western region in switching to EVs, with this type of infrastructure central to overcoming challenges such as ‘range anxiety’, namely an EV driver’s fear that they will run out of power before reaching their destination – or being able to return from their destination.”
“Policymakers may also consider enhancing EV grants as the high price of EVs was seen as the greatest barrier to purchasing an EV, while the provision of regionally targeted grants could improve the uptake of EVs in rural regions with low levels of disposable income.”