More than a decade of free charging for electric vehicle drivers in Northern Ireland will come to an end on 26th April 2023.

ESB has just released details of their pay to charge scheme, saying It will provide account holders with access to “over 1,350 charge points across the island of Ireland” from a single account / card / app.


Costs per kWh vary between a monthly membership subscription and a PAYG option. ESB say membership is “designed for drivers who typically use the network more than five times per month”.

  • Membership £4.99 / Month
  • AC Destination Charging (Up to 22 kW)
    • PAYG – £0.49 / kWh
    • Member – £0.462 / kWh
  • DC Rapid Charging (50 kW to 100 kW)
    • PAYG – £0.577 / kWh
    • Member – £0.543 / kWh
  • DC Ultra-Rapid Charging (150 kW+)
    • PAYG – £0.67 / kWh
    • Member – £0.631 / kWh
  • Connection Fee – £0.25
  • Overstay Fee – £8.00
  • Contactless Payment Fee – Additional £0.01 / kWh

ESB account holders will be able to use their existing cards with the new paid for service. New users will be able to apply for an account here and will receive a free card if they sign up as a member, or top up their new PAYG account with £20. Additional cards are available for £9.20.

ESB confirmed fleet plans will be launched for Northern Ireland customers in the coming months and contactless payment will be made available on all new rapid and ultra-rapid chargers. The company says it is making a £10 million investment in the NI network (£3.27 million of which is from the Levelling Up Fund), which will allow it to…

  • “Replace all existing fast (22kW) and rapid (50kW) EV chargers across Northern Ireland. The legacy infrastructure, which is old and underperforming in many instances, will be replaced with the fastest, most reliable and advanced technology available”.
  • “Double the existing number of rapid chargers and increase the speed of these chargers two-fold from 50kW to 100kW”.
  • “See the introduction of high power (200kW) charging through the delivery of five high power charging (200kW) hubs in strategic locations. These high-power charging hubs can charge multiple vehicles simultaneously and can provide an EV with 60 miles of range in as little as six minutes”.

EVANI’s Take

As EVs have become more popular, the abuse of the free ESB service, along with the lack of upkeep of the chargers, meant they were often unavailable for those that needed them. So the vast majority of our members will welcome today’s announcement.

With the launch of payments here, users will expect to see an immediate increase in the availability of chargers, reflecting the experience in Ireland when they were introduced in 2019.

Overstay fees will kick in after 45 minutes on DC rapids (and AC43 connectors) and 10 hours on AC destination style chargers (and 22 kW sockets on rapids). ESB tells us the long 10 hour limit on AC is designed to allow users to leave their vehicle all day at a Park & Ride, as well as allowing residential users to charge overnight without having to get up in the early hours to move their vehicle. We believe the current single overstay payment does not incentivise someone to move on if they have already been fined. So we also look forward to ESB introducing recurring overstay fees, something they tell us they are committed to. Hopefully they will also introduce a way to stop users simply unplugging and replugging to bypass the overstay system.

Drivers here will also demand an increase in charger reliability, expecting the failing hardware to be replaced quickly now, especially after the rollout completely stalled in 2022. ESB tell us they are now commencing the replacement programme for 80 22kW AC posts (160 sockets), however there is no timeline around the replacements and expansion of the much needed rapid charging network, which was announced 16 months ago. While grid capacity and connection pricing remain major hurdles for DC charging plans, other CPOs are proving that sites can be found and we need to see ESB working quickly now, particularly to open the 5 new Rapid Charging hubs they originally announced back in 2021.

The end of the no-fee service will also remove the barrier for some CPOs entering the market here, believing that it has been impossible to compete with the free network in Northern Ireland.

Today’s announcement completes one of the 6 action points from the first plan from the EV Task force and moves Northern Ireland’s EV charging landscape another step forward.

Full ESB press release


4 Responses

  1. Can’t come soon enough… let’s hope it frees up chargers for those that really need them. Good while it lasted, but unfortunately it was abused. Who knows? Perhaps it’ll encourage the repair/replacement (& new chargers!) of units now that there will be a return for stake holders.

  2. That’s great news and a great help when away from home. Particularly please with overstay feature – someone plugged a Mitsubishi PHEV into the ESB charger at Trory for most of a day blocking the CCS charger for others.

  3. Brilliant news! Now people will only use the public chargers when they need it, as an owner of a car with a small battery who relies on public charging for longer trips I’m now counting down the hours to 26th April and a better charging service. Lets hope the charging infrastructure expands as promised with new investment.

  4. Is there a location map of what is going to go where? Don’t want to be in the position of paying for using an older slower charger that will be basically subsidizing the newer ones?

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