Let's pretend it is July 29, 2025. We're more than half way to 2030 when all new cars sold will have to be electric. But how will we charge them all? Will we not need powerpoints at every crossroads?
They are some of the questions I recently put to Niall Hogan, head of ESB/ecars.
But let us recap briefly and look at what lies more immediately in store. Of the 1,100 charge points owned/operated by the ESB (300 of them in the North) around 700 of the standard chargers will incur a cost for their electricity from August 10. Fast chargers have been billed since November. Reaction to paying for fast chargers has been balanced. Paying for something that was free incurred some wrath but improving the network and penalising 'hoggers' have helped. "Some people want it free forever; others say they'd like it a bit cheaper."
Charging at home at night always will be the cheapest option. The challenge is to get chargers to apartments (my comment, not Mr Hogan's). He insists electric power is "very good" value currently compared with petrol or diesel.
In a number of locations they have replaced old AC outlets with fast chargers, especially on national routes. "Our plan, by the time we finish this programme, will be to replace all standard ACs with better ones and exchange 30/40 for fast chargers." Because they provide electricity (50kWh) more quickly they are, and will be, located in areas where you'd do a quick top-up such as at a petrol station (AC is more for those with time to shop etc while topping up).
The really big next step is the start of inter-urban/motorway chargers (up to 150kWh) such as the three-bay hubs at Kilcullen and Galway Plaza (free for now; pricing soon). Another one is shortly coming to Portlaoise; there will be one in Kells, Carrick-on-Shannon - to name a couple more - over the next while. The 150kWh can get you 100km in six minutes if your car can take it. Many cars can take 50kWh. "Then in four to six weeks we will be looking at eight-bay hubs that will have super chargers and fast chargers at key national routes by autumn."
Mr Hogan accepts these may be in advance of demand but that is part of the push towards widespread electrification - and towards my notional midway point of July 2025. Having them should instil confidence and assuage range anxiety
But will we have enough chargers to cope with the anticipated explosion in EV use? "We probably have enough of them to cater for demand for the next three-five years. Most people will charge up at home, remember."
What about those who can't charge at home? He foresees a variety of solutions. One will be to have fast charging locations in urban areas and in some cases 150kWh where you can top-up on a regular basis.
"There will be a place for home charging, local top-up, passing through, national charging." They are also working with Tesco so there will be around 50 or so standard chargers.
What about criticism of the service? He is adamant that 96pc of chargers are available at any given time and suggests there is an urban myth about availability. "We've got 11,500 sign-ups (to fast chargers). Feedback is that those who need the service are availing of it while those who used it only because it was free are charging at home."
With 20,000 EVs on the road between battery and plug-ins they are hoping most owners will sign up for the August 10 start of paying for EV power.
And so four-to-five years hence? "We will have a mix. There will be layers. More homes will have chargers; there will be more standard chargers, more fast chargers in more locations; supermarkets, county councils, hotels, workplaces, inter-urban hubs (will have them).
"It will probably be a bit like wifi. At one stage it was the exception. So chargers will grow in volume as a response to increased demand."