Switching to alternative fuels and technologies forms a central feature of the transport sector’s decarbonisation evolution. To make certain that the availability of refuelling and recharging infrastructure doesn’t act as a barrier to uptake of these vehicle types, the EU has established a minimum provision standard for refuelling infrastructure across the EU and set common technical standards to ensure interoperability.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D., said on publishing the National Policy Framework on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure for Transport in Ireland – 2017 to 2030: “This Framework provides a supportive environment for suppliers and consumers alike, and provides increased confidence and reassurance in our commitment to this emerging market. It sets out our vision for an alternatively fuelled transport future, and steers our preparation. The Government, through the establishment of a Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce, is pursuing the various ways we can support a greater uptake of LEVs. This Framework means that infrastructure will not be a barrier.”
The National Policy Framework on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure for Transport in Ireland: 2017 to 2030 represents a first step in communicating a longer-term vision for the Irish transport sector. It sets an ambitious target that by 2030 all new cars and vans sold in Ireland will be zero emissions (or zero emissions capable) with the use of fossil fuels vehicles rapidly receding.
The Framework outlines the main fuel options that could provide alternatives to oil in transport namely: electricity, hydrogen, biofuels, and natural gas, in the forms of compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). It is likely that electricity will fuel the majority of passenger cars, commuter rail and taxis; while, natural gas and biofuels will play an increasingly important role for larger vehicles such as heavy goods vehicles and buses. Hydrogen use is also anticipated to increase its penetration across the entire fleet spectrum in the coming decades but not in the short-term.
Early stakeholder consultation on the development of the NPF was held between September and November 2015 and the second stage of public consultation on the Draft Framework was held in December 2016.
The Framework recognises that the uptake of electric vehicles is lower than anticipated despite the current generous fiscal supports in place. Indications are that only 8,000 EVs will be sold in Ireland by 2020 (assuming all current policy measures and incentives remain) which is considerably fewer than the target of 50,000 vehicles set in 2014. However, if more supports were implemented, then in the region of 20,000 EVs in Ireland by 2020 could be feasible.
A Low Emissions Vehicles (LEV) Taskforce has been established to assess the range of measures and options available to Government to help accelerate the deployment of alternative technologies, focusing first on electric vehicles.