TALLINN Feb 20 Estonia has become the first
country in the world to install a nationwide system of fast
chargers for electrical vehicles, the manager of the new system
said, as part of European efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
The 165 chargers were produced and installed by engineering
group ABB, and construction was financed from the
government's sale of 10 million surplus CO2 emission permits to
Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation.
The 2011 deal with Mitsubishi also provided the government
with more that 500 electric cars and the financing of a
subsidiary system for people to purchase electric cars.
"Now is the time to really press the pedal and move forward
in electrical mobility. We have proved that there is a real
possibility to set up a network in a country, and there are no
technical barriers," Jarmo Tuisk, head of the programme which
has run the scheme to set up the network, said in an interview
Estonia and other countries have seen weak take-up of
electric vehicles due to high driving costs and their short
range from a single charge.
The network of fast chargers strategically placed along
roads and in towns means that users need not worry about running
out of power during their journeys. It also features a
nationwide unified payment system.
Estonia, with a population of about 1.2 million, has 619
all-electric cars, of which 500 are used by public authorities
and about 100 by private people and companies.
That amounts to one electric vehicle for every 1,000 cars,
second only to Norway, which has four per 1,000. The Netherlands
is third at 0.6 per 1,000.
Tuisk said that with the national charging network in place
he hoped the number of electrical vehicles owned individuals or
companies would double to 200 this year.
(Reporting by Patrick Lannin; additional reporting by David
Mardiste; editing by Jane Baird)