Ireland Likely to Outpace U.S. in Electric Vehicle Adoption

By · November 04, 2011

Ireland EV map

Despite several years of economic woes and rapidly expanding debt, a country commits to plug-in electric vehicles and an aggressive roll-out of charging infrastructure. The Republic of Ireland (you were thinking of someplace else, perhaps?) is installing 1,500 public charging stations this year, which puts the country on pace to have a far and away greater penetration per capita than the United States.

ESB, Ireland’s leading electricity provider, sees great utility in the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and charging infrastructure as the company increases the percentage of wind and other renewable energy to 40% of its total generation. ESB is building out the infrastructure to support the government’s goal of 10% of all vehicles being electrified by 2020.

To put it in perspective, Ireland will install 1,500 public charging stations in 2011, while the U.S. will see double that number, despite a population that is more than 60 times greater. When you consider that Ireland has no domestic PEV manufacturers, and just two imported vehicles (the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV) available today, the commitment is all the more impressive. The country will also see 2,000 residential and 30 fast DC (CHAdeMO) charging stations installed by year’s end.

ESB is streamlining EV charging by creating a single-card payment system so that customers can switch electricity providers or charging locations and have the fees consolidated back to their home account. ESB will also use smart charging to manage the equipment so that PEVs can participate in grid services, a step that utilities in the U.S. (with the exception of NRG) have been slow to take.

An agreement between Ireland’s two governments in late October will extend the EV network across the border into Northern Ireland so that the entire Emerald Isle can function as one. As quoted in the Belfast Telegraph, Thierry Sybord, managing director of Renault UK, said, the agreement with Northern Ireland “provides a unique opportunity to explore cross-border collaboration with the Republic of Ireland.”

So PEV drivers anywhere in Ireland will be able to roam freely with their car (like their cell phone) and receive consistent service and billing. This bodes well for consumer interest in PEVs. Other countries such as Spain and Portugal have similar programs in development, and each is likely to have adoption rates higher than in the U.S., where no national plan has been proposed.

It’s encouraging to see the desire to reduce emissions and increase domestic renewable energy production bringing together an area that has seen more than its share of conflict.

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