The scope of the financial audits of 2018 carried out by the State Audit Office included measures for provision of an electric car (EC) charging infrastructure, wherefore 3.5 million euro from the state budget have been already spent.
When assessing the performance of the charging station network during the first six months of the operation, the State Audit Office concluded that the performance of the EC charging network is actually worse than originally anticipated because only 12% of all charges are made in the network of EC charging stations and these charges are paid for of 90% from the state budget.
In 2016, the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Directorate’) started to implement the EU project “Establishment of EC Charging Infrastructure”, within which installation of 139 EC fast-charging stations is planned in Latvia by 2021, 70 of which started operating in July 2018. From the beginning of the project until the end of 2018, 3.3 million euro has been spent on the development of the EC charging network, whereas the Directorate received almost 188 thousand euro from the state budget to cover the maintenance costs of the EC charging network in 2018.
After the audit, the State Audit Office must admit that the performance of the EC charging network in the first six months of operation indicates the risk that, without additional support measures for promoting EC use and without changing EC user habits, the maintenance of the infrastructure created might cost more than originally anticipated to the state budget in the long term. This will place a significant burden on the state budget in the long run.
In 2018, the fixed costs of one EC charging station were 2,837.67 euro at an average and the one EC charging cost 29.32 euro, of which 26.43 euro or 90% was covered from the state budget. A small number of registered electro cars in Latvia and the fact that only about 12% of all charging are made in the EC charging station network affects this relatively high cost of EC charging mostly.
This is because the absolute majority of EC drivers choose such sites for charging that match their daily rhythm and habits rather than the EC charging stations developed within the project on the TEN-T roads and in the major populated areas. People charge electric cars at home, at public authorities, or at shopping centres basically, where they can spend time usefully instead of waiting for the car to charge. This leads to high downtime costs of EC charging stations, as maintenance costs (such as insurance, Internet connection, land lease, electricity self-consumption, information management systems, etc.) must be borne regardless of whether those charging stations are used or not.
In European countries, various state and municipal funded support measures are provided to promote the use of electric cars. The most common ones are those that make the purchase of electric car cheaper (e.g., electric car purchase subsidies, electric car purchase and operating tax credits) or those that give advantages to electric car users in using urban infrastructure (for instance, free parking and the right to use lanes of public transport).
Although electric cars are not yet widely spread in Latvia (only 460 electric cars were registered at the end of 2018), there are also some advantages for electric car users in our country compared to the users of internal combustion engine-operated vehicles. For example, free parking, the use of public transport lanes, and tax credits when buying and using an electric car.