Article by Christian Pleijel – ESIN
Since 2011, an electric vehicle (EV) experiment has been conducted on the Aran islands to see if EVs would actually work on the islands and achieve an impact on energy imports, as predicted by a study. A trial of eight vehicles began in 2011 and lasted a little more than three years. The vehicles were passed to a new set of drivers each year with a total of 30 drivers participating.
The Axiam Mega ECity vehicle was chosen for its use of regenerative breaks, corrosion-resistant aluminium chassis and ABS body panels. While the vehicle has only a range of 60km its energy efficiency is considered representative of modern EVs. The vehicle uses maintenance-free gel-sealed lead batteries which was the only realistic option available at the time of the trial.
The performance of the EV was compared against that of a one-litre diesel vehicle, a Citroen C1 which is of similar weight and dimensions.
As there are no wind turbines on Aran these days, all electricity is supplied from the mainland. The electricity supplied to the EVs was matched to the CO2 intensity and wind energy content of the national electricity system for each hour period of operation. The following results were obtained:
The savings potential predicted for EVs by the all-electric study, where the old fleet of vehicles were considered to be replaced, are therefore confirmed by this trial.
The vehicles were removed from the island when the trial ended. Islanders adapted very well to the use of the EVs and more than 90 per cent indicated that they would like to switch to electric drive if (when) vehicle prices were favourable. Still the trial EVs were small (2 p) and needed a lot of charging. Some in the study did not feel confidant that the cars could do the length of the Island twice in one day.
Now, they are negotiating with Renault Ireland to get good prices on their “Fluence” EV model. Currently there are 3 on the island which were used when the Minister for Energy visited them earlier the year. There is is interest locally from the people who where in the trial as they are proper cars that can carry 5 and go a good distance (100 kms).