Over 1,000 miles of Australia are to be covered with new fast-charging stations by the end of 2017
Eighteen fast-charging charging stations will be installed around Queensland to create a “super highway,” allowing EV drivers to travel from the Gold Coast to Cairns. A lack of infrastructure to support long distance travel can be a problem in large regions with a low population density, such as Australia. Supplying main routes such as these will be a key method of tackling the issue and supporting EV uptake.
Boosting interest will be vita if the technology is to succeed here. A report by the Electric Vehicle Council released in June noted that only 1,369 electric vehicles were sold in Australia last year, representing just 0.1% of the market. With a population of almost 5 million Queensland, there region therefore presents a large opportunity for new EV sales.
Australia is also trying to encourage this transition to electric vehicles by making the chargers free to use for the time being.
Environment Minister and Acting Main Roads Minister, Steven Miles, said: “This project is ambitious, but we want as many people as possible on board the electric vehicle revolution, as part of our transition to a low emissions future. Today I’m announcing the first 18 towns and cities that make up phase one of the Electric Super Highway and will, once operational in the next six months, make it possible to drive an electric vehicle from the state’s southern border to the Far North. They will be available for use at no cost for the initial phase of the super highway so we can encourage as many people as possible to start using them.”
Although EV sales in Australia have been low, enthusiasm for the technology high, according to Miles. “The most recent Queensland Household Energy Survey showed that 50% of Queenslanders will consider an electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid or regenerative braking hybrid, when purchasing a new car in the next two years, and that majority said improvements to public fast-charging infrastructure would further tempt them into purchasing an EV”.
The government did not confirm exactly what type of charging stations will be deployed, although there will be both level 2 and level 3 chargers at each site, which should enable most EVs to have access. They also plan to link the charging stations to their green energy credit system in order to power them with clean energy or at least offset their energy footprint.
While it is undoubtedly cheaper to recharge an electric car than to refuel a petrol-powered car – even with Australia’s high electricity prices – the limited number of public charging stations has so far hindered the transition for many. Free chargers should help drive interest and encourage more drivers to convert, but more effort will be needed across the country if EV use is to truly become a trend.