A lack of highway charging is a major barrier to investment in electric vehicles by drivers, fleets, importers and infrastructure investors. Now the Australian government is acting to address this gap and inspire market confidence by significantly increasing investment in ultrafast highway charging for electric vehicles.
On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced $15 million in funding to Evie Networks to build an ultrafast electric vehicle charging network along the highways of Australia.
This $50 million public-private partnership will dramatically expand electric vehicle charging coverage in Australia by adding an additional 42 open access ultrafast sites to the national network. There are currently only around 70 fast charging sites in Australia, most of which are proprietary or require a subscription. The private investment is underwritten by the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said this funding builds on ARENA’s previous investments in driver education, battery recycling and charging infrastructure.
“We’ve worked to ensure our investments work together to maximise the overall outcome for Australian drivers and fleets. The layout and distance between sites is designed to cater to affordable vehicles and light commercial fleets. We’re also reinforcing coverage in regional areas beyond the Melbourne to Brisbane corridor.
“When complete, our investments will support Australia achieving a standard of highway coverage which ranks among the best in the world along the highways linking Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane as well as providing coverage in Adelaide, Perth, Tasmania and North Queensland.
“Now drivers can buy an electric vehicle knowing they can enjoy the freedom of the open road as well as enjoy significant fuel savings on a day to day basis. We believe charging infrastructure will accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in Australia which will help us reduce our emissions and our reliance on expensive imported fuels.”
Evie Networks CEO, Chris Mills, said public-private partnerships such as this ARENA investment are essential to ensure Australia realises the jobs, growth and clean air benefits of electric vehicles. “We have estimated that Australia needs around 350 sites to cover all the highways that make up Australia’s National Land Transportation Network. While many consumers will charge at home, they will also need plenty of fast chargers in towns, suburbs and cities. There are currently around 6,500 petrol stations. This is just the beginning of the infrastructure build out.”
The ultrafast chargers will be located at highway service centres and will be capable of refueling suitably equipped vehicles in 5 to 15 minutes. While charging, drivers can leave the vehicle and enjoy the convenience of 24/7 on-site amenities. Meanwhile service centre owners will enjoy the benefits of attracting EV owners to their sites.
The network will use state-of-the-art Australian made ultrafast technology manufactured by Tritium in Brisbane. This technology has only recently begun to be deployed in Europe and North America. “All the charging will be 100% green power. Renewable energy generators and electricity networks stand to gain from increased consumption as we electrify our transportation fleets. We expect to learn and share a great deal about the challenges of connecting to the grid and operating in the Australian context,” said Mills.
Evie Networks is partnering with the University of Queensland to support the ARENA knowledge sharing program. This knowledge will be used to shape the Australian electric vehicle industry which according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the EV council has potential to add $3 billion to GDP, create over 13,000 jobs and reduce emissions by 18 million tonnes.