EV charging: Pocket-size power point up a pole

No off-street parking? EV drivers in NSW will soon have 50 new, super-handy streetside charging points.

By: Andrew Webster

For electric vehicle (EV) owners, or aspirants, without off-street parking, there is an inevitable, recuring question: “Where can I charge my car?”

That’s a question ARENA is actively addressing because accessible charging infrastructure is vital so all Australians – including residents in units, terraces, or townhouses – can benefit from the renewable energy transition in transport.

All told, about 1.9 million Australian households fit that bill.

Backed by $871,000 ARENA funding, smart metering company Intellihub has started installing EV charging points mounted on suburban street power poles.

Looking a little like a modern take on an art-deco parking meter, but with a charging socket rather than a credit card slot, the 22 kW chargers connect to the overhead electricity network.

All electricity supplied by Origin is from 100 per cent accredited GreenPower.

A total of 50 chargers will roll out on local streets across Sydney’s suburbs and the Hunter Valley region.

Drivers will use an app to book a charging session time and then drive up, park and charge.

A two-hour session should deliver enough charge for around 200km of driving.

Where can drivers find Intellihub chargers?

Feature picture showing a map of Intellihub streetside charger trial councils in Sydney
Click on the image for a GIF showing participating councils in Sydney and NSW (Image: Intellihub)

The first Intellihub charger, just installed, is in the inner Sydney suburb of Wolli Creek.

Officially powering up the unit, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said the Intellihub chargers could help deliver a national EV charging network.

“A lack of charging infrastructure is a challenge to the uptake of EVs, with a quarter of Australian households currently unable to charge from home because they don’t have access to off-street parking,” Minister Bowen said.

“The Intellihub streetside power pole chargers will eliminate barriers for Aussie motorists who don’t currently have access to cleaner, cheaper-to-run electric vehicles.”

The 50 sites have chosen for the trial are in eight NSW local government areas:

  • Bayside Council
  • Woollahra Municipal Council
  • Waverley Council
  • Randwick City Council
  • Lane Cove
  • Northern Beaches Council
  • Lake Macquarie City Council
  • Singleton Shire Council

Initially, areas with high density housing, recreational facilities, local shopping and transport precincts have been prioritised for the roll out.

Councils have also asked local communities to help guide the best locations from a community perspective.

How will the EV charging system work?

Workers mounting an EV charger and power supply on a pole in inner-city Sydney
The Wolli Creek pole-mounted charger is one of 50 being installed as part of the trial to help drivers without off-street parking (Image: Intellihub)

Across the world, chargers mounted on power poles, or streetlights, is already an accepted concept. Major cities, including London, Los Angeles, New York, Hamburg, and Toronto are installing tens of thousands of units.

Intellihub’s system delivers information via a third-party app about charging costs and available time slots. Drivers use the app to make a booking and pay.

Beyond turning up at the allotted time, drivers must only supply a compatible cable to hook up and charge up.

Researchers will monitor parameters such as how many people use the chargers, and their impact on the electricity network.

If successful, the project could clear the way to a wider rollout of commercial charging stations. Intellihub estimates there is the potential for almost 200,000 EV chargers to be connected to power poles across Australia.

Since 2015, ARENA has announced over $150 million in funding to projects that decarbonise the transport sector, including fast charging stations, hydrogen refuelling and household smart charging.

ARENA has also allocated $70 million to support innovation in public charging and management of charging under the Government’s Driving the Nation Fund.


Andrew Webster