22 May 2022

Tipperary County Council needs to be ready for the EV wave

Ireland one of the most expensive countries for charging electric cars

Tipperary County Council needs to be ready for the EV wave

Electric Vehicles: Well behind already, Eamon Stack outlines what Tipperary must do to be ready for the demands of electric vehicles.

By Eamon Stack

Recently Hertz, the global car rental company, ordered 100,000 fully electric cars [EVs], with an option to order 100,000 more. This first order is 25% of their fleet. Other companies will follow.

Imagine all the tourists, in rented electric cars, heading to or through Tipperary. Where are they going to charge, either on the way, or while touring in Tipperary? And, will there be tension between tourists, passing travellers and locals over EV charging infrastructure?

With only a handful of individual charge locations, Tipperary is heading for trouble!

Climate change is a major concern. Everyone aware of the global crisis wants to do something significant to halt Climate Change. So we need to look at the core problem and respond in a systematic way.

There are four human causes of climate change, almost of equal proportion: our home heating; electricity generation (40% is already sustainable); agriculture/industry; and transport.

In the next 10 years the only significant change we can make, to reduce our harmful emissions, is transport. As we change our cars regularly anyway, and EVs are readily available, and the grid is getting greener every year, the transition to EVs is the only option.

And sales of electric cars are really taking off. Look at these statistics. Remember, an electric car in the motor industry statistics is a car with a plug, including battery electric cars [BEV] or plug in hybrid electric cars [PHEV].

Market Change
There has been a substantial change in car purchasing behaviour in the second half of 2021.
Country EV as % of new car sales:
Ireland 25%;
UK 33%
Sweden 50%;
Norway 90%
In fact, by next St. Patrick’s Day, Norway expects to go 100% green, 100% of all new private cars will be electric. While Norway’s transition has been strategically planned over 8 years, drawing from their rather substantial sovereign wealth fund [the oil fund], their next door neighbour, Sweden, who has not used a major government intervention, is following fast behind Norway.

Local Infrastructure Needed
The big question for Tipperary is what infrastructure is needed for the pending increase of EVs in the county. The big danger is that local EV owners will end up competing for resources witht ourists and other EV drivers passing through.

For instance, I was in Roscrea in November and could not use the fast charger at the Centra car park as it was in use by two people from Donegal, both of whom attended the same funeral. And the charger at Obama Plaza had a queue. A one hour wait to start charging is completely unacceptable.

Most Tipperary EV Owners will charge at home, 99% of the time. These are the people with off-street parking. With a population of 160 thousand people, and 90% with off-street parking, with a significant seasonal tourist industry, what public charging infrastructure will be needed in Tipperary, by 2025, and by 2030?

Element Energy, a UK consultancy, was commissioned four years ago, by the four Dublin local authorities, to determine what EV infrastructure was needed in the Dublin metropolitan area. I have deduced from their report a framework to determine the EV infrastructure required by EV drivers per 100,000 population [based on reaching 80% of Government targets].

The first useful output from this report is the language. How do you describe what EV infrastructure we need before determining how much is needed? There are two main categories of people who need public charging infrastructure. First, local people who do not have off street charging. The second group are visitors, passing traffic and tourists.

For the local people you need a mix of two charging options: Street charging [slow] and/or urban charging hubs [fast].
For travelers or tourists you need two charging options also: En route hubs for charging [fast chargers at motorway/national route service locations] or Destination chargers [slow chargers at hotels, B&Bs or shopping centres etc].

Based on my analysis of the Element Energy report, I believe Tipperary will need the following:

By 2025: six Urban ChargingHubs (10 fast chargers each): 100 Street Charging Locations (20 slow chargers); six en-route charging hubs: and 60 destination charger locations.

By 2030 the demand will have increased to: 24 Urban ChargingHubs (10 fast chargers each): 400 Street Charging Locations (20 slow chargers); 20 en-route charging hubs: and 240 destination charger locations.

To clarify, a charging hub [urban or en route] means approximately 10 fast chargers in one location. A fast charger can deliver between 50-300 units of electricity [kW/hr] in one hour. Typical charge time is 20 minutes. A slow charger [destination or street charger], delivers 6 units of electricity an hour. The average charge time is 8 hours.

This analysis gives a general framework for the local authority, Tipperary County Council. Their job, and biggest challenge, is to meet the EV needs of both local people and tourists. TCC particularly needs to plan for the peak, the peak of the tourist season, peak weekends like sporting finals, so as not to have unhappy visitors and unhappy locals.

Local authorities do not need to do everything, but they have three vital roles:
1. Find location for charging hubs and street charging;
2. Negotiate with Eirgrid to get power needed for those hubs, and;
3. Tender infrastructure providers; Ideally insist on a pay as you go, rather than provider apps and memberships.
4. Negotiate with neighbouring counties to plan en route charging hubs.

Enroute Charging Hubs
Tipperary is a key enroute hub for major routes in Ireland. Both the M6 and M7 pass through Tipp. and the Limerick-Waterford national route crosses the county. The M6 has a hub in Cashel, with one eCARS fast charger and four Ionity fast chargers. This is a good start but this will need to increase to 10-15 chargers.

Tipperary County Council also needs to coordinate with Kilkenny and Cork to ensure there are enroute hubs at key points north and south of Cashel. There needs to be a charging hub on the M7. Currently there is one charger in Roscara. The other charger is in Nenagh. Both locations are now off the main route.

Obama Plaza has one charger and this needs to be expanded significantly. Birdhill has two Apple Green chargers and 8 Tesla chargers. This needs to be expanded. Tipp Co Co needs to work with Laois and Offaly to coordinate the installation of these major enroute charging hubs.

The Limerick - Waterford route passes through Tipperary town and Clonmel. These would be a good location for a charging hub that might serve both passing and local traffic.

ESB ecars eight vehicle High Power Charging Hub at Junction 14 Mayfield, Kildare

It is interesting to learn from the Norway tourist experience. Their population is similar to ours but distances are much greater. Most of the en route charging hubs are in service stations and most have between 20 and 40 fast chargers. The owner of the service station usually has the same number of EV chargers as petrol pumps. But they allow other providers to install fast chargers in their carparks, e.g. Tesla will often install 20 chargers, Ionity [owned by German car manufactures and Ford] put 6, and others 4-6 chargers each.

In Ireland, ESB eCARS could install some chargers and Tesla, Ionity and our own EasyGo would also invest. Recently EasyGo received investments to install 500 fast chargers across Ireland. The UK company Gridserve, or Dutch company FastNed, could also invest.

Urban Charging Hubs
There are policy decisions needed to determine how best to serve the local population. How much local EV infrastructure will overlap with tourist infrastructure? And does Tipperary opt for more urban fast charging hubs than on-street charging or a combination of both?

Given the three major routes that pass through the county, charging hubs that serve both passing and local traffic would be a good investment. However, it would be unreasonable to expect people in Roscrea, Thurles or Nenagh etc to travel to charge their EV. Serious consideration needs to be given to providing street charging in all towns in the county that would not have a charging hub.

Tipperary CC then needs to decide where they might put street chargers, These are slow chargers for local residents who do not have off-street parking. For some residents, who normally park outside their house at the footpath, a simple gully to allow a charging wire across the forthwith might be the cheapest solution.

Another cost effective solution is to put charging sockets in lampposts. As street lighting has been switched to low energy LED, there is plenty of capacity in the installed wiring to cope with 13a sockets.

Destination Chargers for Tourists and Visitors
While the adoption of EVs by locals will be slower, there is a clear benefit for rental companies to switch first. They change their cars every two years. EVs will cost 50% less to maintain and last twice as long. Fuel costs for renters will be reduced by 70%.

The greatest immediate need, therefore, is for overnight charging of tourists EVs. This is why “destination chargers” are a key element to the new charging infrastructure. Some hotels have installed a small number of destination chargers. But we will need 20-40 in each hotel before 2025. B&B will also need to install charge points.

It is interesting to know that a standard plug will often be adequate. It seems to make sense for every B&B to install at least one charge point [rated 6.6 units per hour] and several external sockets [typical 2 units per hour] and, of course, switch to day/night electricity tariff. Cost of overnight charge typically €5 per EV.

Whether we are enthusiastic or not, whether we want to change to EV or not, even if we are an enthusiastic promoter of cycling, EVs are coming to Tipperary in large numbers and will require a significant investment in infrastructure by 2025 and a major ramp up until 2030.

The burden of cost will be spread between local and national government, private charge providers and private accommodation providers. Nevertheless, it is 100% the responsibility of TCC to plan for the infrastructure and drive the adequate roll-out EV infrastructure. It is time for Tipperary to drive forward sustainably.

If you have any questions about charging over the EV, please find a wide range of resources on the Irish EV Owners website We have a very active Facebook page with over 7000 participants.

Eamon Stack is a computer engineer from Tralee. His father, Austin, was Assistant County Manager and best remembered for his passion for the Tipperary Airport. His Mam is a member of the well known Grey family, Templemore and Eamon himself lived in Templemore for a time.
He is policy person with the Irish EV Owners Association. He is co-founder and Director of Range Therapy, a social enterprise supporting the adoption of EV in Ireland.

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