[WATCH] Private sector will be allowed to set up electric vehicle charging pillars

New government policy will open up the market for electric vehicle charging pillars to private operators who wish to invest in this sector

Electric charging pillar
Electric charging pillar

The market for public electric vehicle charging pillars will be liberalised in line with a national policy unveiled by Energy Minister Miriam Dalli on Monday.

Potential investors will require authorisation from the Regulator for Energy and Water services (REWS) as government tries to rope in the private sector in developing the public infrastructure.

“In our strategy to transition towards having zero emissions, we need to integrate the private sector in that transition,” Dalli said.

The cost for public charging shall consist of two components, a flat rate which represents the electricity charge and a premium which shall be applied by the Charging Service Provider. The electricity tariff component is regulated by REWS.

The ability to charge using charging stations operated by different service providers require roaming functionality on the same model used by global mobile telephony systems. This shall require the development of a system whereby two or more operators can exchange information and billing.

The roaming charging stations shall require a secure internet connection, standard communication protocols, and either a RFID card reader or a function for remote activation. The charging infrastructure operators are requested to provide payment systems which are interoperable across EU borders.

“By regularising the sector, the government is opening up the public charging infrastructure market to private operators, thus increasing services provided. The regulations will also support the green economy: as the demand increases, so will opportunities for green jobs,” Dalli said.

The minister reiterated that the decarbonisation of the transport sector was one of the country’s main pillars to obtain climate neutrality by 2050.

The application for the authorisation can be obtained before the installation of any charging point, however the authorisation holder is obliged to register the publicly accessible charging points with the Regulator within 15 days as from the date of the commissioning of such charging points. The charging point registration form will be downloadable from the REWS’s website.

An authorisation fee of €75 per charging point is payable on registration of the charging point and thereon every three years from the date of issue of the authorisation to act as an operator of the publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure. The authorisation fee per charging points due when a charging point is registered for the first time will be calculated pro rata with respect to the particular three-year time period.

Fielding questions from the press after the announcement, the minister said a number of investors have expressed their interest. “We have established car importers who want to get into the market, but we also have companies who are solely charging pillar operators.”

She also said the government is keeping electric grid overload in its plans. “We will be investing €90 million over six years to improve distribution, and we will also have the second interconnector.”

Government to incentivise purchase of electric vehicles

During the last Budget, government offered generous grants for the purchase of new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles but Transport Malta had announced it will be closing the scheme for hybrid vehicles after it was fully taken up. The scheme ended in May.

Dalli reiterated government's commitment towards battery-only vehicles, rather then hybrids, insisting the grant on offer is one of the most generous in Europe.

“Malta gives a grant of €12,000 for anyone who scraps a car and purchases an electric-only vehicle, and it is the strongest in Europe and I believe such grants help in pushing people towards electric vehicles,” she said.

“As a country we need to reach full decarbonisation of the mobility sector, and that is why we concentrated on battery powered vehicles, and ultimately zero-emission vehicles. That will continue to be our policy. We need to incentivise zero-emission vehicles because we want the cars that we have in the market to really help in reducing emissions on our roads,” Dalli said.

READ ALSO: Environment minister says focus will shift to electric cars not plug-in hybrid