Despite several years of economic woes and rapidly expanding debt, The Republic of Ireland has announced its commitment to Electric Vehicles (EVs) and an aggressive roll-out of charging infrastructure. The country is installing 1,500 public charging stations this year, which puts the country on pace to have a greater penetration per capita than the United States.
ESB (Dublin, Ireland), Ireland's leading electricity provider, sees great utility in the deployment of EVs 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. Ireland has no domestic EV manufacturers and just two imported EV vehicles (the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV) available today, making the commitment 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 EVs 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."
EV 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 EVs. 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.
John Gartner is a senior analyst at Pike Research and a co-founder of Matter Network.