SEAI plays down need for hundreds of thousands of public chargers for electric vehicles

Public Accounts Committee told 80 per cent of charging will take place at home

A senior official from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has played down the need for hundreds of thousands of public chargers for electric vehicles around the country.

Declan Meally, the organisation’s director of transport, told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that 80 per cent of charging will take place at home.

He said public chargers are needed for “just a splash for a couple of minutes” to allow people to get home where they will do most of the charging while they sleep.

Mr Meally was responding to questions from Labour TD Alan Kelly who suggested the take up of electric vehicles – and SEAI grants to help fund their purchase – was being hindered because public charging infrastructure is not strong enough.


The Tipperary TD said he lives in rural Ireland and “the idea not being able to get to a point where you can charge your car quickly is a real issue”.

He said he knows the public charging infrastructure is not the SEAI’s responsibility but asked if it accepts the issue hinders grant applications to the agency from prospective car buyers.

Mr Meally said he did “not quite” accept that, saying: “You deputy have electricity in the home and an opportunity to charge your car at home and 80 per cent of the charging will be done at home.”

He said there is an SEAI grant for home chargers and said: “So the perception that we need hundreds of thousands of chargers around the country is not there.”

Committee chairman Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley chipped in saying: “The problem would be if the deputy wanted to go to Mayo for example or say Leitrim or Sligo.”

“You could find yourself like the Dutch ambassador who couldn’t find a charging point.”

This was a reference to reports that the Dutch ambassador had difficulty finding working electric car chargers on a visit to Leitrim and Longford in 2021.

Mr Stanley said: “That’s the problem unless you knock somebody’s door who had a charging point and say ‘can I use yours?’”

Mr Meally said the vehicles on the market now would potentially allow return trips to Mayo but also said there would be an opportunity to charge a car there.

The PAC was told that there are 77,000 electric or plug-in hybrids on the road and Mr Meally said the trajectory is there to reach a target of 175,000 by the end of 2025.

The Government’s Climate Action Plan has a target of almost a million electric vehicles by 2030 comprising of 845,000 cars and a further 100,000 vans, trucks and buses.

Mr Stanley asked Aoife O’Grady, the head of the Department of Transport’s Zero Emission Vehicles Ireland unit, if she was confident the 2030 target will be reached.

She said she was – provided there are no supply chain issues.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy criticised the current grant system which offers €5,000 to people buying an electric vehicle up to the value of €60,000 saying it was “obscene”.

He argued that people paying carbon tax on fuel for non-electric vehicles in rural Ireland were helping to pay for electric cars for people in Dublin that lived close to public transport.

Ms O’Grady said the purchase of new electric vehicles needs to be incentivised so that there is a healthy second-hand electric car market in Ireland in the future.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times