Summary of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy

There have been some significant developments in connection with the Irish proposals for electric vehicle infrastructure.  The Irish government is planning for one million electric vehicles to be on Ireland’s roads by 2030. This ambitious target has attracted the attention of many entrepreneurial start-ups and we have seen a number of early stage companies focusing on providing support and solutions to enable Ireland to achieve this goal.

This article provides an overview of these latest developments and a summary of the latest strategy announced by the Irish government. Our Start Strong team would be happy to assist any early stage companies focusing on supporting the growth and development of the electronic vehicle sector. Please contact any member of the McCann FitzGerald LLP Start Strong team for assistance.

1. The Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy    

The Irish government has recently published its Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy (the “Strategy”) which focuses on how charging infrastructure can be improved in Ireland between 2022 and 2025. A further updated strategy is due to be published 2026-2030 which will review progress to date and will reassess and refine the provisions, initiatives and funding pathways set out below.

The government is planning for one million electric vehicles to be on Ireland’s roads by 2030 and in order to meet this goal, the roll out of charging infrastructure must be accelerated. Analysis suggests that, at a county level, the current network of 2,400 public charge points will be sufficient to meet the charging needs of BEV owners without access to home-charging for the next few years, but will need significant expansion from 2025 onwards.

The Strategy states that around 80% of EV charging in Ireland currently takes place at home and our public charging network is currently less than half of the current average EU level of provision. Based on analysis carried out in leading EV markets like Norway and Sweden, the Strategy states that it is likely that while home and work place charging will remain dominant in Ireland in the coming decade, demand for higher speed publicly-accessible top-up charging will increase, and when sited at motorway services locations will have the added benefit of supporting and enabling longer distance travel.

The Strategy highlights that more recent technological developments, such as smart integrated electric charging solutions which allow for energy monitoring and demand load management will assist in further spreading the demand and optimise charging cross the grid. These efficiencies may lead to cost savings for infrastructural investments and upgrades in the future. Therefore, they have the potential to offer cost savings in terms of grid upgrades and electricity infrastructure investments and it is recommended that such systems be mandated for installation where possible. Financial benefits can also arise from the greater usage and higher load factors of EVs on the existing network. This is based on the network being used to distribute more electricity to end users with the cost per unit of that electricity potentially falling as a result.

Vehicle –to-Grid (“V2G”) also has potential to offset EV energy demands. Where an EV is plugged into the grid, the battery of the EV itself acts as a backup battery to the grid and can feed energy back to the grid to balance demand.

The Strategy notes that ultra-fast high speed (100kW or more) charging infrastructure remains critical for quick top-up en-route charging. The Strategy notes that the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation which is currently being negotiated at EU level, will establish a minimum requirement for the quantum and power of motorway/ strategic road network EV charging points in each EU state.

The Strategy highlights that for the successful roll-out of charging infrastructure, there is an essential task of ensuring necessary grid capacity and resilience to support the energy demand for EV charging. Therefore, the Department of Transport and Zero Emissions Vehicles Ireland (“ZEVI”) will need to intensively engage with ESBN, EirGrid, the CRU and energy suppliers as well as charge point and forecourt operators to ensure a timely and co-ordinated approach for energy provision and grid management.

2. The Establishment of ZEVI

The Government will establish the office called Zero Emissions Vehicles Ireland to co-ordinate and deliver the policy pathway for low emission vehicles. ZEVI will draw on international best practises and will leverage expertise from across a number of bodies that currently deliver key EV policy measures and support services. ZEVI will be strategic coordination of EV policy, regulation and taxation, management of EV grants and incentives, and the Delivery Plan for this EV Infrastructure Strategy. ZEVI will bring together the various grant schemes which are a crucial part of addressing gaps in the market and ensuring early adopter EV uptake while vehicles reach cost parity with fossil fuel vehicles. As the EV market matures and price parity between EVs and internal combustion engine (“ICE”) vehicles moves closer these supports will be gradually phased out, and it is expected that the delivery of charging infrastructure will be the main focus of ZEVI for the second half of the coming decade

ZEVI will establish an EV Infrastructure Energy Group comprising representatives from relevant Government Departments, Agencies and the energy sector. This group will consider the wider impacts of the electrification of transport in Ireland.

ZEVI will convene a new public private EV Infrastructure Task Force, drawing together representatives from all areas of the EV eco-system, public sector, industry and academia. Its focus will be on identifying optimal policy levers, investment imperatives and innovations to support EV infrastructure delivery. It will be transparent, responsive to market shifts and technological developments and will facilitate best practice and knowledge sharing.

3. Infrastructure Strategy: targeted action areas and new supports

Home Charging: A key principle of future support for home charging is that it will become smart home charging. Pricing to incentivise night time charging at home should also become more widespread, and ZEVI will review, through the EV Infrastructure Energy Group, actions to facilitate the implementation of such mechanisms, for example, amending the existing home charging scheme to fund only smarter charging devices that will deliver system benefits and cost savings.

Shared Residence Charing Scheme: Work is currently being progressed to expand the EV home charge point grant to include shared parking in apartment blocks and similar developments. The Department is working closely with the SEAI in this area and a funding scheme for apartment buildings will launch shortly.

Public Point Charge Scheme: It is envisaged that the Department will, working with Local Authorities, establish an Office of Government Procurement framework from which Local Authorities can procure expert supports to assist in the development of a local area charging network. Local Authorities will then be able to apply for funding from a new Residential Charging Scheme which will replace the Public Points Scheme. It is envisaged that this Scheme will provide significant co-funding of 75%. Residential charging points delivered under the new Scheme would have a charging capacity of 7-11kW per charging point and is intended that the Scheme would provide an alternative for those without access to home charging solutions.

Destination Charge Point Scheme: A multifaceted scheme is proposed to fund the installation of charge points by the public and private sectors at trip generating locations, or destinations. Traditionally destination charging may occur in visitor and tourist attractions, retail outlets, car parks, public amenities, hotels, leisure facilities etc. The main destination charging scheme will be open for applications from the public and private sectors, from organisations such as hospitals, leisure facilities such as municipal swimming pools, cultural centres, hotels, cinemas and shopping centres.

ZEVI will also launch new grant schemes to support the rollout of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure at both state owned and commercial visitor locations nationwide, and community centres.

Through the Shared Island initiative, the Department of Transport is also developing a scheme to fund a network of publicly accessible fast charge points in local sports clubs throughout the island. This would provide a reliable network of charge points in the centre of surrounding communities which could also support the uptake of EVs in rural and cross border areas.

It is envisaged that, in particular, the provision of destination charge points at visitor locations, sports clubs, and community centres in the Gaeltacht and Islands will support the transition to EVs in these communities. In all Destination Charge point schemes, it is anticipated that ZEVI would provide funding for civil and electrics works, to enable the installation of EV charge points. Land owners could then consider leasing facilities to a charge point operator for installation, maintenance and operation of EV infrastructure, or operating the charge points themselves.

How can we help?

If you are an early-stage company focused on supporting the growth and development of the electronic vehicle sector we would be very happy to assist. Please contact any member of the McCann FitzGerald LLP Start Strong team for assistance.

McCann FitzGerald LLP is a premier Irish law firm.  With over 650 staff located in our principal office in Dublin and our international offices in London, New York and Brussels, our specialists are ready to help your business thrive. Our Corporate practice combines with our Company Secretarial and Compliance Services group to offer your start-up enterprise the market-leading advice that you need to grow, from corporate advice on fundraising and governance, to day-to-day advice on compliance matters – leaving you free to focus on developing your business.

Also contributed by Suvi Ronan

This document has been prepared by McCann FitzGerald LLP for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.