Ireland sets 10-per-cent target for electric vehicles by 2020

IrelandDublin - The Irish government announced Wednesday a target of 10 per cent of all vehicles to be electric by 2020.

Making the announcement on RTE state radio, Communications and Energy Minister Eamon Ryan of the Green Party said the ultimate target was "to switch our transport system off oil."

The plan was to have 40 per cent of vehicles electrically powered by 2030, he said.

Ireland is one of the most oil-dependent countries in the world, said Ryan, whose portfolio also includes natural resources, adding that it was well suited to switch to electric vehicles because of its size.

The island of Ireland is some 450 kilometres north to south and 250km east to west.

A charged battery would travel 160km, or enough to get from the capital Dublin in the east to the city of Galway in the west, he said.

The government would invest in the infrastructure for cars to recharge or swap batteries across the country.

He said the cars could be charged overnight at home at cheap rates using electricity produced by wind turbines.

Ireland currently produces 10 per cent of its electricity from wind energy and plans to increase the proportion of power from renewable sources dramatically in the next decade to counter its growing greenhouse gas emissions.

The minister estimated that an electric vehicle would cost 6 euro cents (7.8 US cents) per kilometre to run in contrast to 50 cents for a petrol-powered car.

He said he would talk to carmakers about making Ireland a showcase for electric vehicles. He pointed to Israel and Denmark as already having ambitious plans for electric vehicles. For example, Israel plans to go completely electric by 2020.

"This is a multibillion-euro investment," Ryan said Wednesday.

Environment Minister John Gormley, also of the Green Party, first announced the plan last month in the so-called Carbon Budget.

The budget includes a 1-million-euro research and development fund, and incentives for companies and individuals to buy electric vehicles, RTE reported. (dpa)