Wednesday 28 November 2018

The announcement today of funding approval for a number of transport projects among the Climate Action Fund supported projects was warmly welcomed by Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport who stated that “this support will accelerate our transition to a low carbon transport future”.

The news that the Fund can support ESB eCars in developing a nationwide “state-of-the-art” electric vehicle (EV) charging network capable of facilitating large-scale EV uptake in Ireland over the next decade is a further boost to the EV transition. It will ensure that the work of the Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce in expanding the range of incentives available for EV purchase and ownership will be supported by a modern, widely available charging network and the sharp growth seen in EV purchasing as a result will be sustained.

Minister Ross also said he was “pleased that the Fund will support Irish Rail’s proposed year long trial of hybrid powering of intercity diesel trains. If successful, this could be rolled out across the fleet. This, in parallel with a comprehensive trial of alternatively fuelled and retrofitted buses in Dublin and Cork that is set to begin next week, makes it an exciting time for greening our public transport fleets. Collectively, these trials will play an important role in providing the information we need to invest in the right technologies in order to move public transport to a cleaner and lower emission future.

In addition, two further projects awarded funding today will also progress the greening of the freight sector. The eco-driving project in Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford has the potential, if successful, to be scaled up nationally while the GRAZE biogas project intends to support gas fuelled vehicle purchasing, making indigenously produced biogas an available and viable vehicle fuelling option for freight fleets in parts of Munster.

In all, these innovative projects will help advance decarbonisation across the transport sector and will complement the mitigation measures already underway. The most important transformation in the transport sector in the coming years will be the replacement of conventionally fossil fuelled vehicles on the roads with cleaner more efficient alternatives. This is a formidable adjustment but one that with vision, investment and resilience can actively set Ireland on the right path to decarbonisation and cleaner air.

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Notes to the Editor:
Ireland faces an enormous challenge in its transition to a low-carbon society. Reducing greenhouse gases is an important objective of whole-of-Government requiring a collective approach; the transport sector undoubtedly plays a substantive role in this reduction effort. This, however, will not be easy – while most transport journeys undertaken now are lower emitting than ever before, transport emissions are increasing due to the growth in the population and economy which is giving rise to more travel journeys. A balance must be achieved to reduce transport emissions whilst not negatively affecting social progress or economic recovery.

The transport sector is seeking to reduce emissions on four main fronts. Firstly, the transport decarbonisation pathway begins with sustained investment in public transport and active travel to improve the quality and capacity of the networks and, where feasible, encourage a shift away from private car use. Budget 2019 progressed this objective with a commitment to invest €788 million in sustainable mobility measures in 2019 in key projects such as BusConnects, improved PSO bus and rail services, and the extension of the Luas trams. In addition, €13 million has been allocated for the development of Greenways. In addition, through Project Ireland 2040, Government is looking to reconcile mobility needs with climate obligations – committing to integrating land use and spatial planning to encourage fewer and shorter journeys and support public transport, walking and cycling as real alternatives to the private car.

Secondly, Ireland must reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and secure an early and sustainable transition to zero and low emission vehicles. The Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Taskforce, co-chaired by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, was established in December 2016 to consider the range of measures and options available to Government to accelerate the take-up of low-carbon technologies in the road transport sector. The Taskforce’s work programme has been structured into two distinct phases; the first focused exclusively on EVs while the second will consider other alternative fuels such as natural gas and hydrogen. The LEV Taskforce Phase 1 Progress Report is available at:

Recommendations for the Taskforce were considered by Government and under Budget 2019 funding for the full suite of EV incentives were announced, including extending the BIK relief, extending the VRT relief for hybrids and introducing a new ACA for natural gas refuellers and vehicles (see list below).

Thirdly, the Biofuels Obligation Scheme plays a critical role in reducing emissions from the existing vehicle stock; the amount of biofuel in the national fuel mix has progressively increased since 2010 and from January 2019 will increase to 10% by volume. Biofuels have played a significant role in reducing transport emissions, in 2017 it is estimated that biofuel use saved over 450 thousand tonnes of CO2 emissions – this equates to a 3.4% emission saving.

Finally, Ireland is working hard to secure innovation and efficiency in new vehicle manufacturing through EU vehicle standards legislation and at EU level has expressed disappointment that the pace of transition to zero and low emission vehicles in Europe has been too slow.

Alternatively Fuelled Bus Trial:
The National Development Plan commits Ireland to a transition to low-emission buses, including electric buses, for the urban public bus fleet, with no diesel-only buses purchased from July 2019, in line with the BusConnects programme. BusConnects will be delivered by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and will initially address bus fleets operating within the GDA in line with the NTA’s Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area, 2016–2035. Transition to low-emission alternatives will be a phased process and it is expected that by 2023, half of the bus fleet (approximately 500 buses) will be converted, with plans for full conversion by 2030. The programme will also be expanded to include urban bus fleets in Galway, Cork and potentially Limerick and Waterford.

A bus trial is set to begin on December 3rd and will assess a range of fuels and technologies including: electric, diesel electric-hybrid, hydrogen and compressed natural gas/biogas. Each of the fuels and technologies undergoing testing will be compared against a Euro VI diesel baseline. The trials will consider CO2 emissions, air quality impacts, and contribution potential towards renewable energy targets as well as other criteria such as costs, fuel economy, availability and infrastructural requirements for each technology. In addition, drivers will complete a survey to provide qualitative data on the operational experience of driving each alternatively fuelled bus.

Buses will run intermittently on slightly modified existing bus routes in Dublin and Cork (Number 9 in Dublin and the Number 207a in Cork) on weekday afternoons and evenings over the next four months. The buses will simulate real-driving conditions stopping at or near bus stops with doors opening and closing to simulate real bus journeys. No passengers will be carried on these buses but the trial will not affect existing schedules or service capacity.

Current incentives available to EV drivers include:
##Purchase Grant Scheme – A grant of up to €5,000 towards the purchase of a new battery electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV). The grant is applied through the relevant motor dealer.
##VRT Relief – VRT Relief of up to €5,000 for BEVs (until end 2021), and up to €2,500 for PHEVs and €1,500 for hybrids (extended in the recent Budget until end 2019).
##Low Motor Tax – BEVs qualify for the lowest tax band of motor tax at €120 per annum, while a PHEV is typically taxed at €170 per annum.
##Lower Fuel and Maintenance Costs – Studies show that you can save up to 74% annually on fuel costs in comparison with a diesel alternative. Currently, EV drivers use ESB public charge points for free. However, ESB recently announced plans to introduce fees for fast charging from mid-2019 and for on-street charging from mid-2020. Fee-free charging, while an important initial incentive to the early adoption of EVs and signalling public policy support for EV technology, is unsustainable going forward and creates some demand management issues.
##Comprehensive public and on-street charging network – ESB rolled out a network of electric vehicle charging points throughout Ireland including approximately 80 fast chargers; ESB have impressive plans for investment in the fast charging network and upgrading of the on-street charging network. The public network is complimented by charge points provided at locations such as hotels, shopping centres, visitor attractions, places of employment and private car parks.
##Toll Incentive Scheme – From July 1 2018, BEVs and PHEVs qualify for 50% and 25% toll reductions respectively up to a maximum €500 annual threshold for private vehicles and €1,000 for commercial vehicles.
##0% Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) Rate – BEVS qualify for a 0% BIK rate without mileage conditions until 2021, up to a value of €50,000.
##Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) – EVs and their associated recharging infrastructure qualify under the Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) scheme. This scheme enables businesses to identify and buy the most energy efficient equipment including electric charging infrastructure and write down the cost of such equipment in the year of purchase rather than over 8 years.
##Small Public Service Vehicle (SPSV) Grant Scheme – A grant of up to €7,000 or €3,500 towards the purchase of a BEV or PHEV respectively for vehicles in the taxi/hackney/limousine sector.
##Public Engagement Programme – A National Awareness Campaign was launched in April 2018 as part of a wider public engagement programme which aims to increase awareness and familiarity with the technology of electric vehicles.
##Test Driving –An online interactive map shows the availability of dealers throughout the country and enables a test drive to be booked online.
##Domestic Charger Grant – A grant of up to €600 towards the installation cost of a domestic charger point for new and second hand battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).


Source: Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport