The days of oil being used as a fuel for cars, whether petrol or diesel are numbered, not because the whole world has suddenly become more environmentally aware, but simply because Electric Vehicles (EVs) offer drivers more bang for their buck.
EVs are simply cheaper to run - with a cherry on top of being much better for the environment - base economics rather than greener values could power forward this revolution.
The concept is also taking root in the Western Isles, with electric cars being quiet, clean and beautiful to drive, they are perfect for island roads with all the ups and downs and corners, as well as straight runs.
They have zero emissions when driving. Emissions only come from the source energy used and given that most of Scotland’s energy comes from renewables this is negligible.
In the past a stumbling block, which put people off considering an electric car, was range.
Public charge points across Scotland are free, and with the news that the average distance between any given location to the nearest public charging point is now 2.78 miles in Scotland, and 3.77 miles in England, the UK as a whole is bedding-in the infrastructure required for this driving revolution.
Even in the Western Isles you are never more than 30 miles from a charge point.
ISLAND CHARGE POINTS
There are 25 charge points spread conveniently across our Island chain at: Spors Nis/ Lionel School; Shawbost School; Western Isles Hospital; Lews Castle College; CnES HQ; NHS WI Healthboard, Stornoway; South Beach Car Park, Stornoway; Shell Street Car Park, Stornoway; Uig Community Centre; Balallan Community Hub; CnES Tarbert Office; Tarbert Health Hub; Cal Mac Tarbert; Talla na Mara; Leverburgh Lifeboat Station; North Uist Medical Practice; Lochmaddy Ferry Car Park; Claddach Kirkibost; CnES Balivanich Office; Uist & Barra Hospital; Lionacleit Community School; Cothrom; Eriskay Ferry Terminal; CnES Castlebay Office and Cal Mac Castlebay.
I drive an electric car - a Nissan Leaf - which has a range of 150 miles, so getting to a public charge point to power-up is never a problem and of course you could put a connection in your own home.
I live in Shawbost and commute to work in Stornoway, so I do a fair amount of mileage each year, but an electric vehicle is much lighter on the pocket than filling up a conventional diesel or petrol car each week.
I’ve also driven my EV from Shawbost to London and back, using public chargers along the way.
The total cost of electricity for this 1,217 mile jaunt was £34.75, in England you pay for all the charges, but with my home energy provider also owning charge points, I did get half price on some top ups. I even used a Shell Petrol station to charge the car!
Even without this benefit the whole Western Isles to London drive would only have cost £53.30 in my car. How much would that journey have cost you in your car?
It’s an eye-opener for many drivers, especially those who do a lot of mileage, to realise the direct savings they could make by switching from their expensive fossil-fuel reliant cars to an EV.
INTEREST FREE LOAN
But, aren’t EVs more expensive to buy? Even now there are affordable options and with manufacturers buying into the concept, it is likely more competitively-priced cars will be launched in the near future.
Meanwhile, there is help at hand if you would like to look into making the switch now.
The interest-free Electric Vehicle Loan, funded by Transport Scotland (an agency of the Scottish Government), currently offers drivers in Scotland loans of up to £35,000 to cover the cost of purchasing a new pure electric vehicle.
Second hand ex-demonstrator vehicles that are less than 12 months old and have less than 6,000 miles on the odometer are also eligible too.
For a home charging point, the Energy Saving Trust provides up to £300 funding towards the cost of a 32 amp home charge point installation. This is on top of the £500 provided by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
This means that for less than a couple of hundred pounds for labour you can install a charger at home.
You can also take up an electric vehicle tariff from energy companies, and some even supply the charge point for home free as part of a package. Charging an average size car would cost about £6 at home.
Norway, having built its economy on oil wealth is now moving away from it.
New petrol and diesel car sales are banned from 2025 (in Scotland the Government wants to phase out new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032), and Norway’s current taxes on polluting vehicles are high.
Nearly 60% of all new cars in Norway sold this year are electric.
Given that Scotland and the UK have declared a climate emergency, it is surely time for the islands to take up EVs with gusto.
Another Scottish Island group are already leading the way, in Orkney 2% of all cars are electric. Let us beat that number here in our wonderful islands.
Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) have an electric car - a Tesla - to demonstrate to Western Isles residents that electric vehicles (EVs) are a real alternative to petrol or diesel.
I f you are interested in getting a closer look, you can be taken for a spin in the car and find out more about the help available to get your own EV.
Tighean Innse Gall’s EV is used to deliver the Energy in Transition project which seeks to reduce residents’ energy use by 5%, reducing costs and impact on the environment.
For more information about the EV and to sign-up to the Energy in Transition project phone Tighean Innse Gall on 01851 706 121 or go to https://smartysurvey.co.uk/s/energyintransition