The Malta Independent 8 December 2022, Thursday
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Government expects private sector will show interest in operating public charging stations

Sabrina Zammit Monday, 12 September 2022, 14:07 Last update: about 4 months ago

It is expected that the private sector will show interest in operating public charging stations for electric vehicles, the recently launched National Policy for Electric Vehicle Public Charging Infrastructure reads.

The government launched the policy on Monday.

During a press conference, Regulator for Energy and Water Services (REWS) CEO Marjohn Abela explained how this new initiative will help result in fewer carbon emissions. Apart from that, the introduction of more public electric vehicle (EV) charging points ensures that the commitment toward a better environment is preserved, he said.

Engineer Abigail Cutajar, who is also an Advisor to the Energy and Sustainable Development Ministry said that following the introduction of grant schemes concerning electric cars, there were more than 10,000 battery operated electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by August 2022, as well as the introduction of electric alternatives for public transport and the government fleet.

She said that "a national target is to reach an increased amount of EVs by 2030" and to also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 19% by the same date.

The government is acting as a catalyst for this change, where it is also holding discussions with stakeholders.

For the project's implementation, strategic mapping of selected locations for project deployment took place, together with the identification of market gaps both from a legislative, policy and project perspective.

Cutajar added that it is important for the private sector to also be involved in this near future transition.

As the need for charging infrastructure increases, the policy reads, "it is expected that the private sector will show interest in operating public charging stations. This is something that the government encourages and is in the interest of a competitive market."

"While government intervention is necessary to mitigate the present market limitation, this is expected to act as a catalyst for private investment, which will develop business models to finance, install, operate and maintain charging infrastructure in public spaces," the policy read.

The national policy being introduced will guide charging services providers as to how they can handle the current transition towards electric vehicles. Its scope is to standardise socket outlets, harmonise payment systems and ensure price transparency.

The scope of the regulations, which were also presented during the press conference, focuses on the charging of light vehicles.

It elaborated how the authorisation of a charging pillar operator will be valid for 12 years against a €500 fee, together with a fee of €75 per charging point every three years.

It also announced the launch of an assistance platform, which is an integrated platform being managed by Business First under Malta Enterprise. This new platform will facilitate communication between all involved stakeholders, assist users in ensuring that they are not restricted to charging pillars from one operator.

Looking to the near future, Cutajar said that this will ensure more green jobs together with supporting a more liberated market.

Present for the conference was also Energy Minister Miriam Dalli, who said that with the invitation to the private sector to tap in, can lead to the creation of a new niche sector.

She said that currently, 10% of the nation's cars are either hybrid or fully electric "but there is still more to be done".

Amongst the many advantages, this green initiative is bringing about different advantages such as better and greener communities, and better air quality, she said.

She added that courses are also being introduced to train mechanics for electric car maintenance certification.

Responding to questions by the media, Dalli said the government is mainly focusing and pushing for battery-powered electric vehicles because, unlike plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, they do not have a limitation on their battery operation.

"As a country, we need to reach a certain level of decarbonization in our mobility sector, and that is why we are focusing on battery-powered electric vehicles"

Our ultimate interest is to have zero emission vehicles because we want cars on the market, and those for which the current grant is given, to help remove pollution from our streets.

Asked whether the government has thought about installing underground charging pillars and whether there are known safety risks, the minister said that the current and proposed charging pillars can be seen above ground.

The government will be in contact with the future operator the time, she said, "so that all measure in terms of safety and security are taken into consideration. Our charging pillars are pillars which can be seen above ground and we will seek to ensure every measure of security."

She also added that whoever installs a charging point in their home must ensure that they are adhering to all safety standards that are currently in place.

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