Electric car plans highlighted at annual Green Power Forum

The Government’s plan to have 10% of cars electric by 2020 would be justified only if it was accompanied by renewable sources of electricity, such as wind.

That was the message to delegates attending the annual Green Power Forum, organised by the Irish Motoring Writers Association (IMWA) and sponsored by Semperit Tyres.

An audience of nearly 150 from the motoring, environmental and energy sectors came together at UCD’s Global Irish Institute to hear a panel discussion of the availability and desirability of electric cars in Ireland.

Senan McGrath, Sustainability Manager, ESB, explained how over 1000 public charging stations would be installed here by the end of 2011, delivering an 80% charge in 30 minutes.

Claiming that electric powered vehicles use 75% more energy than equivalent diesels in real-life conditions, Paul Withrington, Director, Transport Watch UK, concluded that the electric car is a no.

“Short of power cells on car roofs, it appears far better to invest in improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine, which has the potential to reduce its fuel consumption by perhaps 25%,” he said.

Mr Withrington added that claims the ESB would be carbon neutral by 2035 seemed optimistic, given only 10% of current electricity is from renewable sources.

Delegates also heard that likely subsidies across Europe for EVs varied greatly, with an average of ca. €6,000, rising to up to €13,000 in Denmark.

IMWA Chairman Michael Moroney welcomed the Forum as an opportunity for informed debate on the many technical issues related to the use of the electric car in Ireland.

“Our primary emphasis is on what’s achievable in terms of an electric vehicle network, or if this is the correct direction to be taking for a small island nation such as our own.”

Paddy Murphy of Semperit Tyres, emphasized the increasing importance of tyres in a world of electric cars, where lower rolling resistance through leaner tyres and special compounds can contribute to maximise range.

“Energy conservation also requires proper tyre maintenance. Up to 25% of tyres on our roads are under-inflated. That increases rolling resistance, and will impact significantly on the range of an electric car,” he added.

The event was chaired by RTE’s Rodney Rice. Cars from Mitsubishi, GreenAer, and Green Machines were available at the event for test driving.

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