Nowhere to plug your EV

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Cyprus’ e-mobility transport network is hampered by a lack of charging points, with authorities rushing to place the infrastructure to cater to the rising demand for electric vehicles.

The world is on a tight schedule to cut carbon emissions, and Cyprus is trying to catch up, encouraging people to go electric with a €30 mln subsidy scheme.

Nicosia must reach EU targets to reduce CO2 emissions from transport by 55% by the decade’s end.

With only 500 electric vehicles on Cyprus roads, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos introduced incentive schemes to subsidise EV purchases for private use, taxis, and buses.

The aim is to register 36,000 electric vehicles by the end of 2030, Karousos declared last November.

However, the installation of EV chargers is moving at a sluggish pace, with the island occupying the bottom spot among EU countries.

According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) latest report in June 2022, Cyprus is last among its fellow EU countries with just 57 power stations.

Malta had 98 EV charging points in June last year.

Top of the list is the Netherlands, with 90,000 EV charging points.

The gap between the top country and Cyprus is massive, as the Netherlands have almost 1,600 times more charging points.

Since then, only a handful of chargers have been installed in Cyprus with private initiative.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Alan Norman, heading a campaign to pressure authorities to introduce electric cars and charging points, said people are discouraged from buying an electric car because of the lack of charging points.

“As an owner of an electric vehicle, I have huge problems when I have to recharge my car.

“There aren’t enough charging points to start with, and those available are mostly slow charging and are in the most inconvenient locations,” said Norman.

“The placements of charge stations in Cyprus are crazy.

“In my hometown of Larnaca, you have but a handful of choices.

“Once you go to the airport where you have to pay for parking, people are encouraged to charge their cars while away on flights, leaving their cars for days to occupy the point”.

Norman argued that charging points should be near places of social activities such as shopping malls, supermarkets or cinemas.

“Lidl in Limassol have two supermarkets that each have a charge station, so it makes sense to charge there.”

He argued that most available charges are not fast, as they have a capacity of less than 50 kW.

“In The EU and the UK, the tendency is to install charges of 130 Kw and over, which can charge your car in a maximum of 20 minutes.

“At most of Cyprus charging points, you need to park your car for a few hours.”

Green Party leader and MP Charalampos Theopemptou told the Financial Mirror the government has neglected to build the necessary infrastructure, leaving everything to the last minute.

“The government is now rushing to promote electric vehicles and bring in charging points with incentive schemes as Cyprus will need to move quickly to disengage from its dependency on fossil fuels as changes promoted by the EU will push prices up even further,” said Theopemptou.

“One of the changes we will have to push through is the ‘Fit for 55’, an EU action to cut 55% of emissions by 2030. This action will change the way fuel tax is calculated.”

New laws

He believes the incentive scheme for electric charges to be unnecessary, as laws already in effect foresee that any new buildings, given the go-ahead after March 2021, must have the infrastructure for installing charging points in tenant parking spots.

“Furthermore, as of January 1, 2025, any business with a parking lot for more than 20 cars will be obliged by law to have a public charging point.”

Currently, the dominant player is the state-owned utility Electricity Authority of Cyprus, with 31 locations, including two in the popular holiday resort of Protaras, one in Polis Chrysochous and Platres, and two highway-side fast charging stations in Alambra and Skarinou.

An authority representative reiterated EAC’s commitment to increasing its charging points.

Another 10 charging points will be added to the EAC map, four of which will be fast chargers with a capacity of 50Kw, charging cars up to 80% within half an hour.

A semi-fast charger with a capacity of 22KW can charge a vehicle up to 80% within one and a half hours.

Three fast charging points will be strategically placed on the Limassol-Troodos, the Limassol-Paphos and the Nicosia-Troodos highways.

Another fast charger will be at Troodos square to cater to people wanting to go on an adventure in the mountains.

The other six stations will be in Limassol (2), Protaras (2), Paphos (1) and one at the Cyprus University Campus in Nicosia.

The cost at EAC charging points is 35c/kWh, rising to 38c for fast charging, with a €6.85 subscription for two months. An initial subscription fee of €30 is also required.

Meanwhile, the Transport Ministry has extended the first phase of a €3.7 mln scheme for 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country until the end of April 2023.

The scheme will be implemented in two phases, with grants for 500 charging stations being handed out each round.

The first phase runs until January 31 with a budget of €1.8m.

The second phase will be announced near the end of 2023, with the remaining almost €2 mln.

It is part of the national recovery and resilience plan titled ‘rapid transition to a green economy – sustainable transport.’

Beneficiaries of the scheme include companies, associations, foundations, NGOs, local government authorities and individuals who would like to set up and run a charging station.

The scheme aims to have 1000 stations up and running by 2026.

Also running is a €1.5 mln grant scheme to encourage installing solar-powered charging systems for plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles.

The government scheme helps people go green by offering them a cheaper way to charge their electric vehicles, which will run until the end of 2023.