Ireland is a natural fit for electric vehicles and an ideal location for a successful electric vehicle programme, according to Donal Herraghty, technology and programme manager at ESB ecars. Herraghty’s role at ESB involves the installation, operation and maintenance of Ireland’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Speaking at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) Energy Show 2015, he explained why the number of electric vehicles on Irish roads is set to grow in the coming years.

Wind Energy

A key advantage of an increased number of Irish electric vehicles is the positive impact it could have on Ireland’s target of a 20% reduction in non-ETS CO₂ emissions by 2020. “Almost 50% of Ireland’s CO₂ emissions are agriculture related and it is unlikely that we will see a 20% reduction in agriculture emissions, especially with the likes of milk quotas being removed and the increase in agricultural activity,” said Herraghty. He described transport as “the key area to reduce targets” due to the unlikelihood of emission reductions in the agriculture area. Transport makes up for 30 per cent of Ireland’s total CO₂ emissions and it is unlikely that major gains are possible in industry, commercial and residential capacities. In the last number of years Ireland has made significant strides in relation to wind energy. As an island nation with the capability of generating high levels of wind power, Ireland has already planned strategically for increments over the coming years. “Up until last August we had over 2,100MW connected to the grid and when you add in what is contracted for the next couple of years you are looking at nearly 4,000 MW. “By 2020 we expect there to be somewhere between 4,000MW and 6,000MW connected. Our current system peak is just over 5,000MW so there will be an excess capacity on the system even at peak times and there is a very good opportunity for night time as well. “The ‘summer night valley’, the least amount required during a summer’s night, is around 1,700 MW, so if there is wind on the system there will be plenty of opportunity to use it for other services, like electric vehicle charging,” Herraghty added.

Size and Geography

Ireland’s small size makes it ideal for electric vehicles. There are few excessively long distances between urban centres, with just 250km separating Dublin and Cork. Fast charge points are installed on inter-urban routes at 60km intervals making it easy for drivers to travel nationwide in their electric cars. Currently, there are 1,200 public charge points across Ireland, over 80 fast charge points along main urban routes and over 80 hotels with overnight charging facilities. “Ireland is an island of very short traveling distances and it is relatively flat as well so you are not going to empty a battery travelling up the side of a mountain range,” said Herraghty.


Ireland’s mild climate is suited to electric vehicles and battery performance. Its average winter temperature is 6°C and it is rarely exposed to extremely hot days. In comparison, electric vehicle drivers in California experience major problems with battery range on the region’s frequent excessively hot days.

Home Ownership

Home ownership is high in Ireland, meaning it is possible for individuals to have electric car charge points installed at their homes. “We have a small population of 4.5 million and one of the key things with Ireland is we have high levels of home ownership and high levels of people living in single family homes with their own driveway and access to an area to charge a vehicle. “The default for charging would be that people would charge between midnight and 8am and also avail of night rate tariffs to reduce the cost of charging. “Home charging at night is the key to electric vehicle charging. People need to bring their car home and plug it in and get their slow charge and avail of night tariffs,” Herraghty concluded.