Public buses and Ministerial cars should go electric, say engineers

Change in attitude required to ensure Ireland meets renewable energy targets, says lobby

In its annual review of the State’s infrastructure, The State of Ireland 2016, Engineers Ireland said only a small portion of private car owners in Ireland had bought into electric vehicles. File photograph: Mal Langsdon/Reuters

In its annual review of the State’s infrastructure, The State of Ireland 2016, Engineers Ireland said only a small portion of private car owners in Ireland had bought into electric vehicles. File photograph: Mal Langsdon/Reuters

 

Ireland’s car fleet makes the country’s largest contribution to CO2 emissions, and converting it to use of renewable energy sources should be given greater priority, Engineers Ireland has said.

In its annual review of the State’s infrastructure, The State of Ireland 2016, Engineers Ireland said only a small portion of private car owners had bought into electric vehicles.

It called for bus fleets to be immediately swapped for electric vehicles and for Government Ministers to set an example by switching to electric cars.

The organisation, representing 23,000 engineers, said improvements in technology, financial incentives and a change in attitude towards electric vehicles would be required to ensure Ireland would meet its overall renewable energy targets.

The report puts forward a range of actions relating to energy, communications, transport, waste and water, with current infrastructure graded on fitness for purpose. The lowest rating was was a D grade for water infrastructure, which was “below standard”.

Communications got a B for “acceptable standard”; energy infrastructure got a C or “inadequately maintained”; transport got a C, and flood management and water quality also a C.

The report launch was performed by Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Denis Naughten. He said the Government was committed to investing in strategic national infrastructure.

Key recommendations

The State of Ireland 2016 report’s key recommendations include:

* Develop a target-led and timelined implementation plan for the recently published Energy White Paper, and stress-test and revise energy policy every three to five years;

*Boost public awareness of energy security and efficiency through tailored education and home retrofit programmes; carry out a deep retrofit of Ireland’s domestic dwellings and public buildings to reduce energy demand and increase energy efficiency;

* Convert all vehicles operated by State actors from fossil fuels to electric, hybrid or compressed natural gas (CNG) energy;

* Diversify the electricity fuel generation mix, expand the renewables base, explore technology solutions such as energy storage and further interconnection, and maintain investment in transmission and distribution networks;

* Switch 900,000 homes not connected to the gas network to electric heating, rather than using fossil fuels;

* Develop our energy research and development capability so that Ireland becomes a world leader in this area.