One part of the bigger picture
The recent enactment of the Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 (the Act), contemplates a radical reshaping of the Irish economy in the pursuit of decarbonisation targets, and provides for the application of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions ceilings to specific sectors.
A recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report suggests that the transport sector makes up roughly 20% of Ireland’s total GHG emissions. If the transport sector is to remain within its sectoral emissions ceiling, the mass adoption of electric vehicles will be necessary. To this end, the new Regulations will help to establish the necessary local charging infrastructure that will be needed to support this modal transition.
A major proportion of the recharging of Ireland’s existing electric vehicle fleet takes place passively at the home of the owner. This pattern of behaviour is not expected to change due to the value and convenience of being able to charge overnight. However, having sufficient public recharging points in place is critical for people who live in apartments, as well as for people who do not have driveways and for those who wish to recharge during the working day due to concerns over battery life and ‘range anxiety’. The Regulations will help to address this barrier to Electric Vehicle (EV) uptake by requiring many new and existing buildings to install EV recharging facilities.
What do the Regulations require?
The Regulations require that
Before 1 January 2025, one or more recharging points is installed at each existing building which has more than 20 parking spaces. This requirement excludes “dwellings”,
In respect of a building, other than a dwelling, with more than 10 parking spaces, that is new or that undergoes major renovation, there must be installed “at least one recharging point and ducting infrastructure (consisting of conduits for electric cables) for at least one in every 5 car parking spaces to enable the subsequent installation of recharging points for electric vehicles”, and
In respect of a building, containing one or more dwellings, that is new or that undergoes major renovation and which has more than 10 parking spaces, there must be installed “ducting infrastructure (consisting of conduits for electric cables) for each car parking space to enable the subsequent installation of recharging points for electric vehicles”.
In this context, a “major renovation” is a renovation where the total cost is higher than 25% of the value of the building, or more than 25% of the surface of the building envelope undergoes renovation. However, the requirements of the Regulation only apply if the renovation includes the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the building, where the car park is internal, or the electrical infrastructure of the car park, where it is external.
In relation to buildings other than dwellings, the EV-related obligations of the Regulations do not apply to a building owned and occupied by a small or medium-sized enterprise. This means an enterprise that employs fewer than 250 persons and which has an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million.
A building will not be subject to the “new building” obligations if a notice, under the Building Control Act 1990, has been submitted in respect of the relevant building work on or before 10 March 2021.
It appears that the obligations set out in the Regulations are intended to be managed, as between the various stakeholders (ie. employer, contractor and design term) under the framework established by the Building Control Act 1990 and the Building Regulations 1997 to 2019. .
Charging for recharging
A December 2019 Regulatory Impact Analysis published by the Irish government estimated that the EV infrastructure costs will be a small part (somewhere between 0.04% and 0.23%) of overall construction costs of a new building. The exact costs will naturally vary depending on building type, size, and location.
Of course, there will also be ongoing costs associated with the management and upkeep of any charging solution that is subsequently installed. The building manager must also decide who will pay for the electricity itself.
The transposition of the Regulations represents one of the latest steps in the suite of decarbonisation measures being adopted by the Irish government. This will inevitably improve the availability and visibility of EV charging infrastructure across the Irish built environment, although there will inevitably be increased costs associated with compliance.
The Regulations should not be expected, by themselves, to trigger the mass uptake of EVs in Ireland. Remaining hurdles like the comparative cost of EVs, residual range anxiety and general lifestyle compatibility, will need to be resolved through other means.
For more information, please contact a member of our Energy, Utilities & Projects team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.