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The establishment of an office to get 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 has been ridiculed by a Clare TD.

Electric Vehicle proposal like regulating for ‘pigs driving cars’

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THE creation of a new government office tasked with getting one million electric vehicles on Irish road by 2030 has been described by a local Dáil deputy as akin to providing for “pigs driving cars”.

Deputy Michael McNamara opposed an amendment to the 2021 Road Traffic and Roads Bill concerning electric vehicles on the basis it is not grounded in reality.

In fact, the Independent Deputy claimed this amendment is as useful as an amendment “providing for pigs driving cars or pigs flying and the absolute necessity to regulate that”.

While Deputy McNamara admired the hopes and ambitions of Energy Minister Eamon Ryan and isn’t opposed to electric vehicles, he stressed at some stage policy has to be grounded in reality.

“I do have a problem with forcing cars off the road. There are very few charging points in rural Ireland even now. A bigger problem, however, is that most people in the Dáil would drive perhaps 50,000 km annually.

He said he was informed by representatives of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, SIMI, that most electric vehicles can operate up to 250,000 kilometres and have a lifespan of about five years before they need to be recycled.

“Electric vehicles are fine for a certain cohort of the population. If we are to have one million electric vehicles operating by 2030, however, has anyone thought of where the required energy is going to come from?

“We are eight years away from 2030. Do we have a plan? We are struggling to fuel the State this winter, while we are intending to have one million electric vehicles by 2030. Where is the required electricity going to come from?

“I am not deriding the idea, the hope and the ambition in this regard. Only last year, Equinor pulled out of the Irish wind energy market because, apparently, there was a complete lack of ambition to bring in the regulatory and planning reforms required.

“Today, representatives of the wind energy sector told us no ports in the Republic of Ireland have the necessary capacity to facilitate the development of the mammoth offshore developments that will be needed if we are going to harness wind energy on the scale required to provide all this electricity.

“We have no ports, no regulatory structures, no planning structures and an office tasked with getting one million electric vehicles by 2030.

“Is there to be an office tasked with training pigs to fly by 2030? I am genuinely baffled by the disconnect between where we are at and where we hope to get.

“I accept it might be possible. I accept that Ardnacrusha went from conception to being commissioned and fuelling the energy needs of the State in eight years, but I don’t see any sign of that happening today.”

Interestingly, Deputy McNamara’s comments came a few days before Shell confirmed it was leaving a partnership with the Simply Blue Group, which previously outlined plans to develop off-shore wind farms off the Clare and Cork coasts.

Minister Ryan confirmed the ZEVI office has already been established on an administrative basis, pending the passing of this legislation.

“It is intended that this office will play an important role in advancing us towards our target of having one million electric vehicles on our roads by 2030,” said Minister Ryan.

“In establishing ZEVI and developing electric vehicle policy, the intention has always been that the concept of electric vehicle includes a wide range of electric and electric-assisted vehicles, including bicycles, tricycles, cargo bikes, mopeds, motorbikes, microcars, velomobiles, cars, buses, vans and a full range of goods vehicles.

“ZEVI will take on functions currently spread across my Department, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, the NTA and TII. It will provide drive and focus for our efforts to promote electric vehicles in particular.”

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