What do we need to do to increase uptake of electromobility locally, nationally and internationally? That is the question that governments, stakeholders, businesses and electric drivers continue to ask.
While there has been considerable progress to date, with global usage numbers increasing year-on-year and significant infrastructural development, the pressure is on to do more. Why? Because the electrification of transport is viewed as a vital component in reducing overall emissions. Indeed, for the EU to meet its climate and energy targets by 2020, everyone needs to get their foot on the pedal to increase uptake of electric vehicles.
One key purchasing factor for potential electric vehicle (EV) drivers is access to charge point infrastructure. There are over 1,100 public charge points dotted throughout the island of Ireland and demand is expected to increase as EV drivers numbers rise. There is also a clear demand for rapid chargers to help expedite journey times.
To meet these demands, there have been significant developments in innovative multi-standard rapid charging technology. A recent notable development in this space is a single charge point that can rapid-charge all standardised electric vehicles in the European market.
This multi-standard technology was first rolled out as part of the Rapid Charge Network (RCN) programme, a €7.4m deployment and study co-funded by the European Union via the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T).
So, what does this mean for EV drivers in Ireland and the UK? Basically, it means EV drivers can now access 74 of these new charge points that have been strategically placed along 1,100km of major trunk routes that link to five seaports and five international airports. This network stretches from Stranraer in Scotland to Suffolk in East of England, from Hull in Yorkshire to Holyhead in north-west Wales, connecting with Belfast and Dublin.
These new rapid chargers are capable of charging a typical electric vehicle’s battery to 80 per cent in approximately 25 minutes, making long-distance, cross-border journeys easier for EV drivers.
To facilitate the deployment and study of these charge points across the island of Ireland, RCN partnered with ecars and ecar NI. Thanks to the infrastructure rolled out in recent years, ecars (with the help of their colleagues in NIE) was able to utilise existing agreements with host charger sites and install these six new RCN charge points.
Once installed and commissioned, the chargers are monitored for usage via the EV charge point management system. This feeds into the RCN’s project’s data analysis-carried out by the University of Newcastle. Key electric car manufacturers – Nissan, BMW, VW and Renault – are actively involved in the project.
The rapid chargers being deployed are state-of-the-art multi-standard units and are compatible with cars using 44kW CCS, 44kW CHAdeMO or 43kW AC systems. This will ensure that EV drivers travelling throughout the UK and in Ireland can undertake long journeys secure in the knowledge that they will never be far from a rapid charger.
Andrew O’Connell, RCN Project Partner for ESB ecars, commented: “The RCN project enabled ESB ecars and ecar NI densify the already extensive network of fast chargers on the island of Ireland. The interoperable aspect of both networks enables EV drivers travel between both jurisdictions seamlessly and the studies carried out proved that drivers are travelling further in their EVs when fast chargers are deployed.”