Electric vehicle owners have said more attention needs to be given towards building and supporting charging-at-home infrastructure, if the Government's ambitious targets for such vehicles are to be met.
Currently, electric vehicle drivers and apartment owner management companies can be at odds over the installation of charging ports, while they anticipate announcement of further grants.
Minister for Climate, Communications, Environment and Transport Eamon Ryan has said that while progress has been slow, there are a number of developments "which are all good news".
The Climate Action Plan 2019 committed to a goal of more than 900,000 vehicles on our roads by 2030.
Although that and other measures under the plan seemed ambitious, the Environmental Protection Agency said it will now not be enough to meet new targets under the latest Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill.
Obstacles to electric vehicle ownership must then be overcome if the new targets are to be met.
Owners want to charge at home
"I don't buy the building owners' argument that it's costly or that it's dangerous, it's a plug in a car park."
Electric vehicles have improved over the last number of years, with improved batteries and the availability of home charging largely alleviating range anxiety.
"The idea that you can just leave your car charging in your driveway, is a big appeal for people. You don't need to go to a pump anywhere, it just happens passively in your garden," Irish EV Owners Association Public Relations Officer Kevin Dowling said.
He said most use cases for EVs are commutes and longer cross-country journeys are served by rapid chargers at motorway forecourts or ESB eCar stations.
However, home charging is not an easy solution for every EV owner and apartment dwellers have faced difficulty in installing charging ports.
"It's going to be a big challenge in the future. This is not an issue that we have to punt off 20 years down the road, this is something that is happening now," Mr Dowling said.
Some EV owners feel that owners' management companies (OMCs) have been reluctant or hesitant to install EV charging infrastructure.
"That's going to be one of the blockers for people getting an electric car, where they can't actually put an install point where they live, even if they own the apartment, they don't own the space in the car park," Mr Dowling said.
He said the responsibility lies with public infrastructure owners and apartment building owners to "get to grips with reality".
"I don't buy the building owners' argument that it's costly or that it's dangerous, it's a plug in a car park," he added.
"One or two [chargers] sounds like a good idea now, but they really need to put banks and banks of chargers across their car parks," he said.
He said existing office buildings, shopping centres and public amenities like park-and-rides need to be retrofitting their car parks for charging ports.
Mr Dowling said there should be more incentives and mandates in place for charging ports.
"It should be easy, cheap and obvious for anyone to install their charger, whether it's in a semi-detached house or if it is a property developer with a new build or an existing car park," he said.
Concerns of owners' management companies
"It's thinking ahead to try and see what that longer-term value is and trying to take some of the risk and pain away from that initial investment, staying one step ahead."
Approximately 80% of people's charging requirements will be at home where it is much cheaper to charge overnight, according to electrical engineer Mark Daly.
However, Mr Daly, who is the director of energy and innovation consulting firm Eninserv, said OMCs have concerns about installing charging ports in existing buildings.
"As people go to look at charging in an apartment building, they are generally one or two people out of many owners within the block," he said.
"Therefore, if they're looking for something it doesn't necessarily fit into an existing mould," he said.
Mr Daly, who is also an enthusiastic EV owner, said that even if their own meter is near their parking space, it is not necessarily a straightforward task to connect to the meter.
"The management company is looking at the potential cost of doing something, and also the precedent of allowing an ad-hoc temporary measure," he had.
Mr Daly said the landlord power supply for lighting, fire alarms and lifts would generally not be sufficient for EV charging.
"If you want a lot of electric vehicles, you will require a bigger supply. That comes with additional costs and standing charges," he said.
He said it might seem unfair to non-EV drivers within the OMC that they are being asked to use funds to provide for charging ports.
He said as time goes on and more people search for charging points "things will get easier".
Mr Daly said OMCs should look at introducing a central infrastructure that could feed all or any tenants that may wish to make use of it.
"That is going to cost a reasonable amount of money depending on the layout, and it could be a while before the management company sees a return on that," he added.
He said this is much cheaper to do when buildings are being newly built.
Mr Daly said having EV chargers is a new 'mod-con' and will help protect value of properties in a sales and rental perspective.
"It's thinking ahead to try and see what that longer-term value is and trying to take some of the risk and pain away from that initial investment, staying one step ahead," he added.
He also advised OMCs to avoid propriety protocols and use open standards and systems for payments and connections.
Mr Daly added that there is a hope that future grants offered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland might support OMCs in introducing the infrastructure.
'One of the most significant developments in our time'
Minister Eamon Ryan said increasing charging infrastructure is a complex challenge for the electricity system in terms of managing the distribution grid.
"We're going to do things differently and it's going to save people money as well as being good for the environment."
He said it is a particular issue in urban areas and will require more investment from ESB.
"This evolution and revolution in the distribution grid as we electrify everything both in transport in heat, is going to be one of the most significant developments in our time," he added.
"There will be challenges but it will be doable because in the next decade we are switching," the Green Party leader said.
"They are better cars, the fuel cost is a fraction, the maintenance cost is a fraction. We can bring in innovative car sharing and other schemes, so this transition and electrification of the transport system takes off everywhere," he added.
In terms of apartments, Mr Ryan said the Department is starting a public consultation on providing grants to retrofit .
He said there will also be changes to regulations requiring EV charging as part of any new development infrastructure.
"It is much easier to get distribution problems solved when you do it when you're designing the building," he added.
Mr Ryan said local authorities will play a key role in allowing people to charge their cars in their neighbourhood if it is not possible to charge at home.
He said with the increased range capabilities of EVs, charging does not necessarily have to be done every night.
The Transport Minister said it was not a case where every parking space needed to be an EV charger, as a certain ratio of spaces could accommodate all EV users over a given timespan.
"You might only be charging once every two or three weeks, so it is not that every car parking space all the time has to be a fully utilised charger," he added.
Mr Ryan said "car parking standards are going to change".
"By building up public transport, by looking at car-sharing, those are other ways we can be efficient in space and costs," he said.
"We're going to do things differently and it's going to save people money as well as being good for the environment," Mr Ryan added.
The SEAI said it is looking at the issue of charging in apartment buildings.
The Authority looks at charging from a variety of perspectives including home charging.
It offers a €600 grant via its website for people who have purchased new or second-hand electric vehicle or if they have exclusive permission to use a company EV.
The SEAI is expecting a doubling of the issuing of such grants this year compared to last year, with 6,200 grants expected.
However, the EV must be parked off-street and the charger must be connected to the fuse board of the owner as the MPRN is used to confirm the location, which is a concern for some apartment-dwellers.
The SEAI's Director of Business, Public Sector, and Transport said the grants are being adapted.
"We're looking at the opportunity to bring in a grant for apartment dwelling and hopefully that will be out later in the year," Declan Meally said.
"We will consider a support for the apartment and property manager and then the apartment dweller will be able to get €600 for their own connection point, but there will be support in terms of looking at the central system. That's currently in research and development," he added.
The SEAI also offers grants for on-street parking through local authorities for people who do not have off-street parking.
Local authorities are offered €5,000 for each charge point.
Earlier this week, Louth County and Dublin City Councils were announced by the Minister for Transport as the first recipients of such grants.
The SEAI is also considering new grants for 'destination chargers' such as hotels or shopping centres, which currently may have been installed through community grants up to about 35% of the cost of installation.
Fast chargers at motorway forecourts and other locations have been funded to the tune of €10m through the Climate Action Fund.
As for new builds and major renovations, the Department of Housing has said it will introduce legislation transposing an EU energy directive within a matter of weeks.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires infrastructure for future EV charging points, for developments with more than ten parking spaces.
That means ducting infrastructure for every off-street parking spot in multi-unit residential buildings, or one in five spaces for non-residential developments.
In addition, non-residential buildings with more than ten parking spaces must ensure the installation of at least one recharging point.
The Directive also requires that Member States shall lay down requirements for the installation of a minimum number of recharging points for existing non-residential buildings with more than 20 parking spaces by 1 January 2025.