E-cars accelerate green island on Europe’s western-most edge

14 Jan 2011

For the first time, electric vehicles are to be used on the Aran Islands off Ireland’s west coast as part of a pioneering EU-wide sustainable living initiative. The average electricity charge per car could be as low as €60 annually.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) came up with the idea for the electric vehicle (EV) project and has developed it with the EV supplier Green Machines and the fleet management provider Merrion Fleet Management. Klockner Moeller Ireland (a subsidiary of Eaton) will supply its smart-metering expertise.

Three-year e-car project

The electric Mega e-City vehicles will run over the next three years, and eight of these cars have been delivered to the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway today.

The three Aran Islands comprise Inis Mór Island (Big Island), Inis Meáin Island (Middle island) and Inis Oírr Island (East island).

It is estimated that the electricity cost of charging the vehicle on the islands could be as low as €60 per year. Normal urban running costs would be slightly higher.

The team says it would cost about €200 to run the EVs for a year if they are fully charged every day – which would be on average about 70pc cheaper than the fuel costs of similarly sized diesel cars.

The Mega e-City has no exhaust and emits zero emissions when driven.

Driving EVs in harsh environments

Robert Nolan, managing director, Green Machines, says: “The Mega e-City cars are ideal as they are built to perform and maintain their high-quality appearance in the harshest of environments. I don’t think that the French manufacturer could have asked for a better proving ground than the Aran Islands.”
The EVs will be used as everyday transport by participants. In addition, their charging patterns and electricity usage will be monitored and managed through a smart-metering system.

The team hopes that when the vehicles are charging, primarily at night, they will be using energy from renewable sources. 

Adds Nolan: “The islanders today are proving that there are realistic and viable alternatives to the traditional combustion engines for local transport needs. With zero emissions and no noise, the Mega e-City is a realistic alternative to petrol combustion engines for most rural and urban centres throughout the country.”

Micro version of Ireland

The team also believes that people can view the Aran Islands as a micro version of the island of Ireland.

“The belief is that this study and all its elements will very quickly show that the use of electric transport throughout the country is not only a realistic prospect but vital in our goal of reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

“The long-term aim of the islanders is to make their home the first region of the country that is totally green in every sense of the word,” says Nolan.

Merrion Fleet Management and the island co-ops will manage and service the eight vehicles.

David Wilkinson of Merrion Fleet Management adds: ”We know that this project will support our belief that electric vehicles can offer a realistic alternative to petrol or diesel vehicles for many companies and individuals, particularly in an urban environment.”

Taking into account the CO2 produced in supplying the electricity to the mains socket to charge the car, the Mega e-City still has lower emissions than any combustion engine, says the team.

“With renewable energy and carbon offsetting, this would be zero in the near future. Motorists can expect to save up to 80pc in fuel costs,” adds the team.
Green Machines has been pioneering the move into electric transport that produces zero emissions when driven since 2001.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic