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Lack of Car Chargers in Northern Ireland Linked to High Grid Connection Costs, Hindering Charging Infrastructure Development.

Title: Lack of Car Chargers in Northern Ireland Blamed on Grid Connection Costs

The poor state of Northern Ireland’s charging infrastructure for electric vehicles can be attributed to high grid connection costs, according to an electric motoring group. The UK government’s plan to phase out new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 has been delayed, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak citing the need for a nationwide charging infrastructure. Northern Ireland lags behind the rest of the UK, with only 23 chargers available per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 66 chargers. The Electric Vehicle Association NI (EVANI) argues that aligning grid connection costs with Britain would encourage investment in charging infrastructure.

Challenges and Costs:
Jude McMurray from EVANI points out that the current grid connection costs in Northern Ireland make it difficult for charge operators to establish a viable business model. Thomas O’Hagan, co-founder of car charging company Weev, highlights that the cost of upgrading grid connections to accommodate powerful chargers is significantly higher in Northern Ireland compared to Britain. In Northern Ireland, operators have to pay for the full network upgrade, whereas in Britain, they only pay for the connection itself. This discrepancy hinders investment and slows down the development of the charging network.

Responsibility and Advocacy:
Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), responsible for power connections, has advocated for a review of charging to align with neighboring regions. However, the decision ultimately rests with the government. The Department for the Economy acknowledges that reducing costs for investors would likely result in spreading the cost across domestic and business bills. The Utility Regulator warns that this would have a greater impact on bills in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK.

Unspent Funds and Commercial Development:
EVANI claims that a government department failed to allocate £7 million from the Blue/Green fund, earmarked for travel projects, towards improving the charging network. The Department for Infrastructure states that it has sought input widely for projects and emphasizes the importance of value for money. It also underscores that charger infrastructure development is a commercially led project.

The lack of car chargers in Northern Ireland can be attributed to high grid connection costs, which hinder the establishment of a viable charging infrastructure. The government’s decision to delay the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales highlights the need for a truly nationwide charging network. Aligning grid connection costs with Britain and exploring alternative funding options could encourage investment and accelerate the development of the charging infrastructure in Northern Ireland. The ongoing call for evidence on a grid connection policy provides an opportunity for stakeholders to address these challenges and find sustainable solutions.

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