Local and National Policymakers, SEAI, NUIG, GMIT, Galway Energy Agency
Electric vehicles (EVs) are one cleaner alternative to petrol or diesel fuelled vehicles, especially if they use electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind. As Galway has a formidable wind resource that will likely see significant numbers of wind turbines erected, EVs could be a very suitable option locally. Since battery powered vehicles can be plugged into the grid when not in use, they can also help with grid stabilisation by doing most of their charging at night (when there is much unused wind generating capacity). Electric vehicles can also feed electricity into the grid from their batteries during peak use periods. This also helps stabilise the grid.
Electric vehicles of all kinds (cars, buses, trucks, etc.) should be promoted at a national level by grant and tax supports. All government bodies and the City Council could opt for electric vehicles when replacing older vehicles.
We are not proposing that EVs will necessarily solve all of our transport problems. We must consider the overall environmental impact of any solution and so we need to bear in mind the energy and materials that go into making electric vehicles. The embodied energy of current EVs is significant (especially the batteries) and must be factored into any decisions on alternatives to oil fuel vehicles. EVs can, however, be made more sustainable by designing them so that they use less parts; have less bodyweight; use more modular parts; are more aerodynamic and use greener materials. Research needs to continue into making the batteries greener (perhaps at the proposed Galway Energy Centre – see above), and into other ways of reducing the ecological footprint of EVs.
European Association for Battery, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, Brussels, Belgium
World Electric Vehicle Association, Hanyang University, Seoul Korea