Renewables experts Everun are calling for the Northern Ireland government to prioritise an upgrade in the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.
The company has said not only does Stormont need to “get back to work” but that as soon as they do it is “vital” they address the critical shortfall in the EV charging infrastrRenewables experts Everun are calling for the Northern Ireland government to prioritise an upgrade in the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure across the country as soon as they return to business.ucture.
According to sales and business development director at Everun, Ross Moffett, the gap in the infrastructure is having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable members of society.
He said: “A significant proportion of hybrid or electric vehicles in Northern Ireland are mobility cars, mainly used by those most in need within our community.
“However, the acute shortage of adequate EV charging infrastructure is a major concern. This deficit disproportionately affects people with mobility vehicles and those in densely populated areas who may not have personal driveways or parking facilities.”
The lack of accessible charging points is forcing many mobility car users to depend on the petrol or diesel part of their hybrid vehicles.
Mr Moffett explained this, in turn, negated the purpose of making environmentally friendly cars available under the motability schemes.
He added: “This situation is far from the ideal we strive for in the renewable energy sector and raises serious concerns about equitable access to sustainable transportation.”
According to Mr Moffett a “comprehensive and multifaceted strategy to address this challenge” is absolutely essential.
He emphasised the need to expand beyond the current focus on rapid ultra-fast chargers. “For instance, hybrids are equipped with a type 2 charging which can take up to 11kw, meaning that the rapid chargers simply won’t work,” he said.
“More importantly, the location of these chargers is crucial – they should be situated in areas that offer comfort and amenities, particularly for those with disabilities.”
Addressing the financial barrier is also critical, as Mr Moffett pointed out the cost can often be prohibitive for those without additional disposable income that they can invest in such utilities.
“With the cheapest electric vehicle models priced around £27,000, EVs remain out of reach for a significant portion of the population and the proportion of people who would be classed vulnerable that need to be able to access EV chargers is high, without any incentives or financial support available they remain in a situation where they may have a hybrid car but they are not able to use it in the way in which it was meant,” he said.
Everun are addressing these challenges as best they can by developing innovative solutions such as combining solar panels with battery storage in housing or commercial developments to speed up the development of an infrastructure.
Mr Moffett explained: “This approach allows solar energy to charge the batteries, which in turn can charge cars – creating a self-sufficient, sustainable ecosystem.”
And while this may be a potential solution to some of the problem it does require investment from developers in the early stages of their projects.
More often than not Mr Moffett said bureaucratic hurdles are what impedes the progress of these solutions.
He also highlighted the potential of renewable energies in stabilising energy prices, akin to a fixed-rate mortgage.
“This predictability is invaluable for businesses, allowing them to budget effectively and plan for the future,” he said.
Looking at the wider context of Northern Ireland’s renewable energy strategy, Mr Moffett urged the need to view EV infrastructure as part of a larger, interconnected energy system.
“This system should seamlessly integrate various forms of renewable energy, from wind and solar to emerging technologies,” he said.
“By doing so, we can ensure that our transition to electric vehicles is not only about replacing petrol and diesel cars but also about building a resilient, sustainable energy ecosystem.
“It is important that we adapt current policies and regulatory frameworks to support the rapid deployment of EV charging infrastructure.
“Streamlining planning processes, providing incentives for the installation of charging points, and ensuring that these installations are accessible to all, regardless of where they live or their level of mobility, is crucial.”
For Everun engagement with all stakeholders including government, industry, local communities, and individual citizens is absolutely essential to Northern Ireland meeting its 2030 goals and creating an EV charging network that doesn’t discriminate.
Mr Moffett added: “The establishment of a comprehensive, accessible EV charging network in Northern Ireland is not just about meeting our 2030 Climate Action Plan targets; it’s about fulfilling societal and economic needs.
“By addressing this gap, we ensure that the benefits of renewable energy extend to everyone, especially those who rely on it the most.”