Transport Minister Danny Kennedy and Environment Minister Mark H Durkan have announced that responsibility for the operation, maintenance and development of the charge point network for electric vehicles users in Northern Ireland has transferred to the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) with effect from Thursday 30th July 2015.
The planned move follows successful completion of the installation of a network of 334 public charging points across Northern Ireland, jointly managed by the Department for Regional Development (DRD) and Department of Environment (DoE) ecar project, which began in 2011.
The transfer to ESB facilitates the next phase of the project, which will seek to put in place a cutting edge operating system to allow the Electric Vehicle charging network to be run commercially within the electricity sector.
Speaking at the Handover Ceremony, Minister Danny Kennedy said:
“My vision four years ago was to create a network of electric vehicle charge points which would become an integral part of the transport network.”
“The completion of the network has contributed to the increase in the number of ecars registered here from 5 in 2011 to around 750 today, a number that continues to rise steadily month on month.Charge point usage has significantly increased in parallel with this growth and there have been over 23,000 individual charging events carried out over the past 3 years.
“The transfer of the network to the electricity sector offers electric vehicle drivers the benefit of a streamlined and customer-focussed approach to the on-going operation of the charge points within one entity and provides ESB with the opportunity to develop a commercial approach to meet increasing demand. I wish the Electricity Supply Board every success as the ecar project moves from strength to strength.”
DoE Minister Mark H Durkan commenting on the project, said:
“The ecar project is an excellent example of how public and private sector organisations working in partnership can open up opportunities for people across the island of Ireland to switch to a more sustainable mode of transport.
“The use of electric vehicles, ideally powered by electricity from renewable sources, is a sustainable means to decarbonise transport and contribute to our climate change, air quality and noise objectives. The project and its future commercialisation has the potential to be an exemplar for other regions with positive outcomes in terms of climate change, health and air quality. It is very much in keeping with my vision of a better environment - a stronger economy for the North.”
Speaking at the announcement, Paul Mulvaney, Executive Director Innovation, ESB said:
“We at ESB are very pleased to assume responsibility for the electric vehicle charging network in Northern Ireland and are committed to maintaining and growing the network into the future. Electric vehicle sales are increasing rapidly with all major car companies bringing EVs to the market. The charging network in Northern Ireland is one of the most advanced, integrated smart charge point systems in Europe which is well placed to facilitate the increased uptake in EVs for years to come.”
Nicholas Tarrant, Managing Director from Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), the network company, said;
“We are delighted to have installed a modern public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in Northern Ireland, and to have worked on the project with DRD, DoE and ESB. I’d like to wish the ecars business in ESB every success for the next phase of the development of the electric vehicle market in Northern Ireland.”
The ecar team within the two Departments is now set to concentrate on other aspects of ecars, such as the delivery of the public sector estate infrastructure and policy development to support the growth of ultra low emission vehicles for both private and business use in Northern Ireland.
Handover Ceremony Bagenal's Castle