Why are electric vehicles on the rise in Ireland?
Is there a danger of our electricity grid being left behind?
What’s the truth about batteries?
And what can be done to protect the grid?
These are just a few of the questions the experts have asked at the annual Electricity Generation Technology conference in Dublin this week.
Electric vehicles and battery-operated heating systems have been popping up across the world, particularly in developed countries, and in Ireland we are among the first to embrace the technology.
The first electric vehicle to be commercially available in Ireland was the E3 car, which was developed by British electric car maker Nissan in 2007.
It has a range of between 130 kilometres and 220 kilometres, depending on the charging state.
Electric cars have been in the spotlight since the death of American cyclist Lance Armstrong in 2009, and there are already a number of EVs that have been sold in the UK, the US, Italy and elsewhere.
A new generation of battery-powered vehicles, including electric vans and taxis, have also been popping in to the market.
There are more than 70,000 electric vehicles registered in Ireland and the number is set to grow to almost 200,000 by 2021.
Electric vehicle drivers have had their share of controversies, and last year the Government banned petrol-powered vans from some roads and other parts of the country.
The Government has also introduced new requirements for the storage of electric vehicles, which will mean that the vehicles must be plugged in at all times, with the batteries at all time.
There has also been an increase in the number of charging stations in the country, which have doubled in size over the past decade.
The State has also made some significant changes to the energy grid.
Last year, the Government introduced a €1,500 charge for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity generated by an electric vehicle, and this will increase to €3,000 in 2021.
The charges are to be paid by electric vehicle owners or owners of an electric van, and the amount of energy used by a battery-electric vehicle is capped at the same level as for petrol vehicles.
The new regulations also mean that charging stations will have to have a minimum of three charging stations and that all vehicles on-road must have a charger, which can be plugged into the charging system and must be kept within the vehicle.
The regulations also require the charging stations to have electronic control panels and to have at least two batteries.
This means that the owners of EVs must also have a vehicle charger that can be connected to the grid and can also be plugged directly into the battery.
In addition, the vehicles cannot have any “alternative fuels”, like diesel, hydrogen or electricity from the grid.
In Ireland, the government has also banned the use of battery operated heating systems in homes, businesses and public places, which are seen as a significant threat to the electricity grid.
There is also a new charge for the first time for every kilometre of charging from a battery, and every year an additional charge is introduced for every 100 kilometres of charging.
There will be an annual charge of €30 per kWh of electricity produced by an EV, and an additional €1 per kWh generated from the electricity generated from an electric heat source.
In order to be eligible for the charge, an EV must have been registered in the last 12 months, have at most one battery, have a range between 80 kilometres and 130 kilometres, and be fully charged.
If a battery is not fully charged, it can only be used to recharge an electric car.
An electric vehicle owner can still be charged for a range charge of up to 120 kilometres.
This will be made easier for owners of electric vans because the van will only be charged when the vehicle is stationary.
An EV owner can also claim a special charge of around €20 per kilometre for each kilowatthour of electricity derived from an electrical heater.
The government is also considering introducing a charging cap of €3.20 per kWh, or around €5 per kWh for each mile of electric driving.
The charging cap will apply to electric vehicles as well as petrol and diesel vehicles.
Electric car owners can claim the charging charge for all vehicles that are powered by a petrol engine, including buses, minibuses and self-driving cars.
A charging cap is a set amount of electricity that must be paid to an electric vehicles owner to be used for the charging of their battery-based vehicles.
An annual charge is set at the end of the year and can be paid either by the owner of the vehicle or by an individual who pays the charging fee.
An owner can only claim a charge of the maximum amount of €40 per kWh on a vehicle that is being charged at a charging station, but this can be waived if the owner chooses to use their own vehicle to cover the charge.
If an EV is not properly charged, the charging cap can be increased by a further €5.