Business

Northern Ireland grant package to charge private electric vehicles is lowest in UK

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THERE was a record increase in demand for electric car home charging grants across the UK in 2020, according to new figures from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles.

But the combined value of grants in Northern Ireland amounted to just £1,283,779 - around 50 per cent less than other UK regions - with Belfast claiming the most at £193,000 followed by Ards and North Down at £174,000 and Lisburn & Castlereagh at £173,000.

Grant claims have not been evenly distributed, with Northern Ireland having proportionally half as much take-up at 319 per 100,000 households.

By contrast, the South East of England leads the UK for the highest percentage of devices under the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), with 735 per 100,000 homes.

EVHS grants provide 75 per cent of the cost of installing electric vehicle devices at domestic properties in the UK.

More than 42,000 grants for home charging devices were made last year across the UK, worth nearly £17m, which was over a quarter of the value of grants since the government launched the scheme in 2014.

These new figures follow data from the Department for Transport showing new electric vehicle registrations rocketed in 2020, hitting 87 per cent growth for alternative fuel vehicles.

The Department also issued a report into public electric vehicle charging points, and Northern Ireland again trails the rest of the UK with just 327 charging points (Belfast has most at 53, followed by Fermanagh and Omagh on 38).

Greg Wilson, founder of CompareNI.com, said: “Easy access to recharging points is crucial to meeting the government's ambitious targets for electric vehicle use, but there is much work to do here in Northern Ireland.

“The Electric Vehicle Agency recently announced that broken chargers were making people less inclined to convert to electric vehicles – in fact 60 per cent of those surveyed were considering a return to fossil fuels, suggesting a ‘pay-to-charge' solution may be the answer.

“Historically, insurance premiums may have been part of the problem, with higher premium costs taking into account the unique parts and specialist mechanics.

“But as electric cars become more mainstream and a growing number of insurance providers enter the electric car insurance market, we expect the average cost of insuring electric cars to fall steadily.”

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