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Councils ready to lead on electric vehicles

Could electrifying the cars and trucks used by councils be a way to kick-start our local electric vehicle industry?

The Cities Power Partnership was keen to find out, so recently undertook a survey of its member councils. Now the results are in it’s clear that there is a healthy appetite for quiet and clean electric vehicles at the grassroots level of government.

Electric vehicle car
Could local governments launch EVs into the mainstream?

Describing themselves as a coalition of willing mayors, councillors and communities committed to a non-polluting energy future, the CPP is helping towns and cities to to make the switch to renewables. Established in 2017, the CPP already represents about 100 of Australia’s 537 local councils, with a collective catchment of almost 11 million Australians.

“The Cities Power Partnership has been around for about a year and a half now, so in that time we have become the largest local government climate program,” CPP Program Development Manager Tracie Armstrong told ARENA Wire in an interview ahead of the release of the survey results.

“Increasingly around the country councils are stepping away from just roads, rates and rubbish – the only things they are told they should worry about, and realise that if they are taking care of their communities properly, climate is going to be a big issue,” she said.

To understand how local governments can be supported to make the shift to EVs, the CPP asked a series of questions scoping whether councils are considering transitioning their vehicle fleets, or supporting the rollout of charging infrastructure for their residents.

Hyundai’s newly launched Ioniq is Australia’s most affordable EV. Image: Hyundai

For the councils that responded to the survey, reducing emissions was the main driver to make the switch to electric vehicles. Eighty-two percent of respondents said EVs could help them reduce their council emissions and the same number want to lead their communities to make the shift to electric motoring.

“I was impressed that a big driver was influencing the community to take up EVs. I thought the drivers would be their emissions and operating costs, but a large one was influencing the community to take up EVs,” Armstrong said.

“I think they are waiting for more choice in the market. It will be small steps, but I feel that there will be a snowballing effect once this starts happening. Councils seem to be thinking that they get the EVs first, and then they work out the charging infrastructure after that,” she said.

When asked whether their council has begun trialling or investing in electric vehicles, or installing charging points, more than half of the respondents to the survey said they have. Three quarters of the councils believe that electric vehicles could compliment their renewable energy projects.

Tracie Armstrong explained, “EVs are increasingly well understood in terms of range anxiety. People were really worried about that even twelve months ago, but they are starting to understand now that’s not a problem. But I think the charging infrastructure is still confusing for a lot of councils.”

In a promising sign, more than a third of councils said they have already started planning to invest in electric vehicles, while 56% say they have started making a plan for EV charging.

“Results that came back in the survey were quite disparate with charging. Some people think they need to upgrade their whole electrical system at their council offices to offer a couple of charging stations, but other people said they just whacked the charger in and there were no problems.”

When asked why they are yet to start investigating electric vehicles or charging, time was identified as a primary barrier. Costs, a lack of support within their council, other priorities and a lack of access to information were cited as other reasons that they were yet to start scoping their options.

“So apart from the actual buying of the car, there could be some changes in education around some of the things that sit around that – whether its charging infrastructure, or procurement practices, or other factors” Armstrong said.

Of the councils that are already acting, more than half say they are planning charging infrastructure and 44 per cent have begun installing public charge points. Thirty-eight per cent say they are planning to include EVs within their council fleets.

“Currently when councils buy new fleet vehicles there’s a three to five year turnover. With EVs there’s less of a need to do that because the maintenance costs of EVs are so much lower once you have them. So, if they were able to change their procurement policies to have longer turnover times, then it would start to look a lot more attractive,” she said.

The project has helped the CPP to better understand the the common barriers to EV uptake, which they will now work to overcome.

2019 Nissan Leaf. Image: Nissan

“The survey tells us what councils need to know. We will be able to develop some more resources for them in this space, to answer the questions that they have.

“It’s no surprise, but the price for EVs is a big blocker for councils, just because the comparable ICE [internal combustion engine] models are much cheaper for the same thing. Although, if they are able to understand the whole life cost of the cars they start to understand that EVs are going to be more economical, even at the price they are now,” she said.

Looking forward, the Cities Power Partnership has identified new opportunities to help smooth the transition for councils looking to embrace electric motoring.

“One of the interesting things that we are helping to contribute to is bulk buying for council fleets,” Armstrong said.

“A council might only be able to afford to buy one or two cars, and wouldn’t by themselves, but because they are going in with a group there might be 30-40 EVs being bought for different local governments around the country, and they are sharing that cost. They might not have done it if they were going alone.

The Cities Power Partnership believe simple initiatives like this could help to kick-start Australia’s electric vehicle sector.

“There’s that comfort level when people see them around, understand how they work, and there’s more drivers for more charging infrastructure to be put in place.

“Local governments have realised that they are uniquely placed to begin emission reduction processes. Because it is in many cases more economic, that brings along councils. If you can make the pollution reduction argument, and you can make the economic argument, there isn’t any reason not to do it,” she said.

The CPP’s findings build on a recent survey undertaken by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which found that fleet vehicle buyers are looking to make the switch to electric vehicles.

ARENA has provided funding for the Climate Council to scale up its work with councils and expand the membership of the Cities Power Partnership.

Chargefox Electric Vehicle Charging Network Project

Australia’s cheapest EV to be available within weeks

Zero emissions motoring has become more affordable with the official launch of Hyundai’s fully electric Ioniq.

Priced from $44,990 for the base ‘elite’ model, the new Hyundai will replace Renault’s $47,490 Zoe as the cheapest electric car on sale in Australia. While still carrying a significant price burden over petrol models, the Ioniq aims to put electric motoring within reach of more Australian motorists.

The 2019 Hyundai Ioniq’s interior. Image: Hyundai

Launched this week in Brisbane, the five door hatchback is comparable in size to the Korean manufacturer’s popular petrol powered i30 model. With a cited ‘real world’ battery range of 230kms, the Ioniq can charge from flat to 80 per cent within 23 minutes when connected to a 100kW DC fast charging station.

On the performance front, the new Hyundai won’t keep Tesla owners awake at night. The 88kW/295Nm plug in electric Ioniq can sprint from a standstill to 100kph in approximately eight seconds, comparable with the company’s non-performance petrol hatchbacks.

Hyundai’s Australian division are offering an upspec premium model for an extra $4000, which adds heated and ventilated leather seats, LED headlights, wireless phone charging, parking sensors and a glass sunroof.

The small number of moving parts in the electric vehicle drivetrain will offer some hip pocket relief, with annual services expected to cost just $165.

Hyundai have also launched hybrid Ioniq models, which look likely to challenge the dominance of Toyota’s popular Camry, Corolla and Prius offerings.

Ioniq Hybrid. Image: Hyundai

The $33,990 Ioniq Hybrid will pair a 77kW/147Nm petrol engine and small 32kW/170Nm electric motor. Relying on just the electric motor at low speeds, the Ioniq Hybrid has quoted efficiency of 3.9L/100kms and is priced $2500 cheaper than Toyota’s Prius.

A plug-in hybrid option will be offered from $40,990, powered by the same petrol engine but adding a larger 44.5kW electric motor and 8.9kWh lithium-ion battery to deliver up to 63kms of dedicated electric motoring.

At the Brisbane launch, Hyundai Australia’s chief executive Jung Wook Lee said the new range will break down barriers to electric vehicles.

“The 2019 Ioniq makes responsive and eco-friendly electrified driving accessible to a wide range of customers, and is an exciting new chapter for our company,” Jung Wook Lee said.

Momentum building in EV sector

Hyundai’s Ioniq is the first of many new electric cars from major manufacturers due to hit the Australian market within months.

Building on the recent launch of the Jaguar I-pace, Nissan’s latest Leaf is due in the new year, along with Hyundai’s Kona crossover, the Audi e-tron and Kia’s Niro.

While Australia’s electric vehicle uptake has been slow compared to other parts of the developed world, experts predict that we will catch up as EV prices drop, battery range grows and more charging infrastructure is built.

Last month ARENA announced support for Chargefox to build Australia’s first intercity EV charging network powered by renewables. The new network will link Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide, with new charge points also built around Perth.

Electric vehicles next in line for rooftop solar

Could electric vehicles be charged with solar panels built into the roof of the car?

Hyundai and Kia think it is possible, promising to release electric car models with a solar ‘sunroof’ as soon as next year.

The new solar technology will be first be made available in hybrid models, but later be rolled out across the plug in and internal combustion ranges.

Clean, quiet and with increasingly impressive performance, the electric vehicle revolution is accelerating. Research released earlier this year by ARENA predicts that EVs will reach price parity with petrol powered cars in the early 2020s, and make up all new vehicle sales by the mid 2040s.

Charging the growing numbers of electric vehicles will be a challenge, but one Kia and Hyundai think could partially be offset with inbuilt rooftop solar panels.

The Hyundai Motor Group is developing three types of solar roof charging systems. The first-generation silicon solar roof will be fitted to the Sonata and Ioniq hybrid models, followed by a semi-transparent solar roof system for internal combustion engined vehicles, and a third-generation lightweight ‘solar-lid’ for plug in electrics.

They expect the first generation of the new solar sunroofs will have capacity to charge batteries by between 30 and 60 per cent. That sounds impressive, but the size of the batteries needs to be factored in – Hyundai’s hybrids are powered by a small 1.5 kWh battery. In comparison, the Tesla Model S battery is nearly 55 times the size, storying 85 kWh of energy.

Hyundai plans to integrate the semi-transparent solar panels with a panoramic sunroof to let light into the cabin while also potentially powering the car’s electronics and climate controls.

Testing is already underway, with the option fully electric cars utilising solar panels applied to the roof and bonnet of the vehicle to maximise the charging capacity.

In a statement, the Hyundai Motor Group say the systems will help motorists to take some control of their energy generation.

“In the future, various types of electricity generating technologies, including the solar charging system, will be connected to vehicles,” said Jeong-Gil Park, Executive Vice President of Engineering Design Division of Hyundai Motor Group.

“This will enable them to develop from a passive device that consumes energy to a solution that actively generates energy,” he said.

Hyundai say the first generation of the new technology will be integrated into its vehicles after 2019 as one measure to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and meet global regulations targets.

Small roof space a limiting factor

Can solar panels on the roof of an EV generate enough electricity to power the car? The short answer is no. Electric vehicles consume a lot of energy, solar panels are large and there is little available space on a car roof.

Toyota currently offer a solar roof on their Prius prime hybrid model, which is available in Japan. The $2500 option adds less than 6 km of range, assuming the car is parked in direct sunlight.

Toyota’s Prius prime. Image: Toyota

Based on current technology, it is more efficient and cost effective to put solar panels on rooftops than electric vehicle. This is because cars are often not parked in direct sunlight, they are more vulnerable to damage that buildings, and their lifespan is generally less than rooftop solar installations which can last 20 years.

But while there may not be enough roof space to generate the energy required to power a car today, technology is advancing quickly and on-board solar power could play a greater role in the future.

 

Chargefox network opens door to electric road trips

You know the stress of expecting an important call when your phone battery is on two per cent… now imagine that is your electric car battery and you are in the middle of nowhere.

Range anxiety is a one of the biggest barriers to the uptake of electric vehicles. We live in a big country and today’s electric vehicles can’t compete with petrol cars for range between refills.

Chargefox’s Tim Washington and Evan Beaver. Image: Chargefox

When the time comes to recharge, the process takes hours and plug in points are thin on the ground.

But that is set to change with ARENA announcing $6 million in funding for Chargefox to build an ultra rapid charging network.

Chargefox will deploy 21 new charging sites with at least 42 charging stations along major driving routes across Australia. The “ultra rapid” network will connect Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide, and will also include sites north and south of Perth.

The network will be powered by purchased renewable energy, and at least one site at Euroa in northern Victoria will trial an on-site solar and battery powered system.

Charging sites will be public and compatible with all models of electric vehicles currently sold in Australia, with distances between plugs planned to be no greater than 200 kms – well within the range of today’s EVs.

New technology breaks down barriers

Chargefox’s super-high powered charging points will allow an EV to fill its batteries in as little as 15 minutes. For owners of electric cars used to overnight recharges this is a game-changer, providing unprecedented opportunities to break free from urban areas.

Chargefox’s EV charging network will link Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. Image: Chargefox

The Chargefox rollout comes at an important time. Because EVs are yet to hit the mainstream, the cars are expensive and recharging infrastructure sparse.

The electric vehicle sector faces a chicken and egg challenge – manufacturers won’t bring their models to our market until a charging network is in place to support them. And there is little incentive for councils or private companies to invest in charging stations until there is demand from electric vehicle owners.

21 charging sites “just the beginning”

Today Chargefox manages a network of over 350 charging plugs owned by local councils, shopping centres and retailers. These stations are almost all 25kW or lower in power, with only a few DC 50kW stations on the network.

Chargefox CEO Marty Andrews says the 21 new charging sites announced today will unlock Australia’s most trafficked inter-city routes along major highways to electric vehicles.

“These are super-high powered stations, so the car will charge itself up in 15 minutes while you are inside grabbing a snack,” he said.

Andrews identifies Electrify America – the program stemming from Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal – and the fledgling European IONITY network as inspirations.

Describing range anxiety as a difficult thing to explain until you actually experience it, Andrews says it is a front of mind concern when prospective buyers look at EVs in the showroom.

“What if I want to drive from Melbourne to Sydney – at the minute the dealers will say you can’t, and they just want that question to go away.”

“We start by following the most-travelled routes in Australia. Melbourne to Sydney is the first one, but it also means Adelaide to Melbourne, and then from Sydney up to Brisbane, and a bit over in Perth.

“It’s largely driven by the car manufacturers themselves. Those areas are where they sell the most cars, and where people do the most driving,” he said.

“Once that initial backbone network is built and the car manufacturers are selling cars, the network expansion begins to self-fund. We won’t stop at the initial 21 sites,” he declared.

Hyundai’s Kona EV could be launched locally within weeks

 

ARENA supporting the journey to an EV future

Earlier this year, two ARENA-funded studies were published – Climateworks examined the State of Electric Vehicles in Australia, and Energeia’s Electric Vehicle Market Study modelled future possibilities.

Viewed together, the reports present an EV industry with a boot load of potential, but plenty of work ahead.

The good news is that the playing field is levelling. Advances in technology and economies of scale means EVs are well on the way to travelling as far between recharges as petrol cars, and carry an equivalent price tag – the primary considerations in the mind of new buyers.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller says the agency is supporting Chargefox to help increase the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia.

“This is game-changing. Electric vehicles are the future, but gaps in charging infrastructure need to be closed for them to become a mainstream option,” Mr Miller said.

While range anxiety is a headline issue for many weighing up switching to an electric vehicle, Energeia’s report cited a little-known fact – 99 per cent of Australian daily trips are less than 50km. With a 100km round trip well within the capability of any new electric car on the market today, there is little standing in the way of a dramatic acceleration in the uptake of EVs.

Miller points out that Australia lags behind other countries in EV uptake, but there are predictions they could reach price parity with petrol cars within the next few years.

“The other major barrier – a lack of access to convenient public charging points for long distance travel – is something we need to start solving now,” he said.

Linking existing urban charging infrastructure, Chargefox’s inter-city network will mean for the first time there are charging points across and between Australia’s biggest cities.

“This ultra rapid charging network will be the fastest charging technology in Australia, but will also be entirely powered using renewable energy.

“This technology is becoming common around the world, so Australia has work to do in order to keep up,” he said.

Renewables to drive ultra-rapid electric vehicle network

Electric vehicle (EV) owners will soon be able to drive between a number of Australia’s major cities, as Australia’s first ultra-fast charging network powered by renewable energy is built.

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $6 million in funding to Chargefox Pty Ltd to roll out Australia’s first ultra-rapid charging network for EVs.

The $15 million national roll out will include 21 charging sites on interstate highways across the east coast connecting major capital cities including Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and separately north and south of Perth.

The first two charging sites will be in Euroa in Victoria and in Barnawartha North just outside of Albury-Wodonga on the Victorian-NSW border. These two sites are also receiving $1 million in funding from the Victorian Government.

All the charging stations will be powered through the purchase of renewable energy. The Euroa site will include a solar and battery installation and the Barnawartha North site will also feature a new solar installation.

The charging sites are expected to be no more than 200 kilometres apart – well within the range of modern EVs – and will be public, open-access to all EV models currently sold in Australia. Motorists will be able to use the stations via an app.

The ultra-rapid charging technology allows an EV to add 200 to 400 kilometres of range in just 15 minutes, 15 times faster than typical domestic charging points which take hours.

There will be two stations at each site, each capable of a power output of 150 kW.

In June, ARENA and CEFC published a report which predicted the uptake of EVs would significantly increase in the next decade. The report said EVs would reach price parity with petrol cars by the early to mid 2020s. A lack of fast charging infrastructure was identified as a barrier to the uptake of EVs.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said this was a game-changing Australian-first pilot project that would encourage the uptake of EVs by reducing range anxiety.

“EVs are set to have a huge impact on our energy system. Electrification of Australia’s transport sector could reduce emissions and dramatically change how we use electricity.

“EV charging networks are being rolled out in other countries, and Australia needs to catch up to ensure that we can experience the same benefits of improved driving experience, lower operating costs, and better environmental outcomes that electric vehicles offer,” he said.

“This will not only encourage more people to purchase EVs, but will also ensure that all charging is coming from renewable energy and provide a useful test case for charging EVs from remotely located, distributed renewable generation.

“Range anxiety is a key barrier to uptake of EVs in Australia, but this network will help alleviate that concern by giving motorists comfort they can travel long distances,” he said.

Chargefox CEO Marty Andrews said this charging network would be accessible to all, and would help transition road transport to renewable energy.

“Chargefox is committed to sustainable mobility. Our network of ultra-rapid charging stations will play a significant part in improving the infrastructure of this country and remove one of the major barriers that limits the adoption of EVs.

“The charging stations will enable all modern EV drivers to confidently drive between Australia’s major cities,” Mr Andrews said.

The Australian Mobility Clubs (NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAC, RAA and RACT), through Australian Motoring Services (AMS), has also invested in Chargefox, and is now the largest shareholder. Chargefox has also received funding from Wilson Transformer Company and the founder of Carsales, Greg Roebuck.

AMS CEO Michael Reed said: “The Australian Mobility Clubs want to encourage greater take-up of electric vehicles by providing our members with access to this new technology.”

“The benefits of EVs include much lower running costs, they are cheaper to maintain, and they reduce harmful air pollution. By investing in Chargefox, the Australian Mobility Clubs are building on their current investment to improve the infrastructure of this country and remove one of the major barriers that limits the adoption of EVs.

“Having a national network of ultra-rapid charging stations will enable our members and all drivers of EVs to travel confidently between cities and states,” Michael said.

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 | media@arena.gov.au

Download this media release (PDF 125KB)

Shots fired in EV race

Russian gun manufacturer Kalashnikov have thrown their hat into the electric vehicle race, taking aim at American sector-leader Tesla.

The new CV-1 concept’s retro lines are inspired by the Soviet IZh 2125 Kombi – a rugged hatchback launched in the 1970s that became popular for its durability and versatility.

 

On paper, Tesla have little to fear from the Russian’s self-described ‘electric supercar’. With a range of 350kms and 0-100kmh time in excess of six seconds, Kalashnikov’s CV-1 won’t threaten Tesla’s current offerings for performance or range.

Russian media have reported Kalashnikov’s press office saying, “This technology will let us stand in the ranks of global electric car producers such as Tesla and be their competitor.”

“We were inspired by the experience of global market leaders in developing our concept.”

Kalashnikov aren’t alone in chasing the electric vehicle market with models heavy on retro sentiment.

In recent days Jaguar have released their E-type Zero – a modern take on their 1960s icon which set speed records and brought technological innovations into the mainstream.

 

These days under the ownership of Indian-owned multinational Tata, Jaguar have described the plug-in E-type as “The most beautiful electric car in the world.”

With a top speed of 153mph, the original straight-six powered E-type became the fastest production car on the road when released in 1961. The new electric models will have a comparable top speed but accelerate even faster, racing from 0-100kmh in 5.5 seconds with a range of 275km.

A converted silver blue model hit headlines at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, after ferrying the newly married couple from their reception at Windsor Castle to Frogmore House.

Photo: Getty

Jaguar will build the new all-electric E-types at their Classic Works factory in Coventry in England’s West Midlands, not far from the site of their Browns Lane production line which operated from 1951 until 2005.

The first electric E-types will hit the road in 2020 with a price tag of £350,000, up from the £2,097 the first petrol powered models set buyers back in 1961.

While hand-built vehicles like the E-type command boutique prices, a recent Energeia report found that there are affordable plug-in options on the horizon. The ARENA-funded research predicts that electric vehicles will not only be able to compete with internal combustion cars on range within a decade, but also price.

This levelling of the playing field is expected to accelerate Australia’s uptake of EVs, which have been slow to take off compared to other developed countries. Energeia predict that within two decades electric cars will take over our new car market.

ARENA and CEFC release electric vehicle outlook report for Australian market

Electric and plug in hybrid vehicles in Australia are set to boom over the next two decades, according to a new report released today by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

The report, prepared by Energeia, forecast three potential scenarios.

Under all scenarios, including under a scenario of no intervention, the report predicts that between 2020 and 2027, EVs will reach price parity with traditional combustion engines and then rapidly increase as a percentage of new vehicle sales.

Model availability, registration fee reductions, procurement targets and fuel efficiency standards have been found to be key drivers for the uptake. The availability of charging infrastructure, while not found to be a driver, is a barrier to EV uptake.

The report forecasts growth of the consumer market and uptake for EVs in Australia and also includes modelling on the need for future charging infrastructure.

Energeia’s market study has identified that the vast majority of trips made in Australia are well within the range of current and future EVs, with investment in public charging infrastructure being a necessary prerequisite to EV uptake globally.

EV sales are set to expand over the next five years as more popular vehicle models are released.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said EVs represent a great opportunity and looked forward to the increasing share of electric vehicles in the Australian market.

“Electric vehicles represent a great opportunity for Australia. They can offer a better and more efficient driving experience, with lower emissions while reducing Australia’s dependence on fuel imports. As far as ARENA is concerned, they also offer a great opportunity for renewable energy technologies that can be used to charge them. Also, being a battery with wheels, EVs offer tremendous opportunities to support the grid through smart charging.

“This report illustrates methods that have been used elsewhere around the globe to encourage people to buy electric vehicles. It examines charging infrastructure in some detail and also models what future EV uptake trends in Australia might be.” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The report helps us to deliver on ARENA’s investment priority of improving Australia’s energy productivity. It also builds on the other EV related projects ARENA has already supported. I hope this report will be a useful addition to the EV conversation currently taking place in Australia.”

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said: “Australians have traditionally been early adopters of new technology, but we’re lagging when it comes to EVs. This research shows that we can increase the uptake of EVs in a way that benefits drivers as well as the environment. It’s about lowering prices, supporting more models and creating a charging network.

“The reality is that the transition to EVs is inevitable. We’re already seeing vehicle makers confirm they will stop producing pure internal combustion engines over the coming years. At the same time, we’re seeing dramatic improvements in vehicle charging networks, creating the essential infrastructure to support electric vehicles. These measures can deliver a material improvement on our greenhouse gas emissions, as well as take our vehicle fleet into the 21st century.”

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 | media@arena.gov.au

Download this media release (PDF 123KB)

Download the Australian Electric Vehicle Market Study (PDF 4MB)

Zero emission garbage trucks cleaning up bin day

Garbage trucks are becoming unlikely heroes in the clean transport revolution as councils look to add economical, quiet and clean heavy vehicles to their fleets.

Electric power is a perfect match for the rigors of bin day. EVs’ instant torque, regenerative braking, silent running and absence of emissions are cleaning up the dirty job of rubbish collections.

Swedish giant Volvo is the newest player, with their twin engined 820NW ‘FE Electric’ garbage truck set to hit the streets later this year with a range of up to 200kms.

Volvo FE Electric. Photo: Volvo

 

Melbourne’s Moreland Council is taking a different path with support from the Victorian Government, converting its fleet to run on hydrogen produced at a state of the art renewable-powered refuelling station.

Moreland was driven to act when they found their 18 garbage trucks were using half the fuel of their 320 car fleet.

Twelve of the Council’s existing trucks will be converted to run on hydrogen, which releases only water vapour from the tailpipe.

At the project launch, Hydrogen Utility’s Attilio Pigneri predicted the trucks would be about 70 per cent less noisy than in the current diesel configuration.

“Residents will look forward to the day when they won’t be woken up by noisy trucks collecting their rubbish,” he said.

Australian manufacturer SEA Electric has a cost-effective solution for businesses and governments looking to convert their fleet to electric power.

Receiving $5 million from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s innovation fund last year, SEA Electric offer replacement drivelines for popular truck models.

SEA executive chairman Tony Fairweather explained, “with ongoing decreases in the cost of lithium batteries, our electric drive systems are becoming increasingly cost-competitive with equivalent petrol and diesel engines, which means businesses using these vans and trucks can consider 100 per cent electric vehicles on a commercial basis as well as for their environmental benefits.”

The CEFC’s innovation fund is a $200 million program supporting the growth of innovative clean energy technologies.

SAE Electric’s electric conversion driveline

The fund is a partnership between the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), who have identified transport-related emissions as a critical focus area.

The CEFC’s Melanie Madders said,“Emissions from light vehicles already make up as much as 10 per cent of Australia’s total emissions… The development of cost-effective ways to transition commercial vehicles to lower emissions is paramount for cutting national carbon emissions.”

The growth in competition is great news for light sleepers, with garbage collections sure to become quieter as innovation drives down the cost of these technologies.

An Australian startup takes on the challenge of increasing the number of electric vehicles on our roads

ARENA is funding a new initiative that aims to turn Australia into a global leader in the electric vehicle (EV) market.

Around the world, the transition to EVs is gaining pace. Global sales of electric cars exceeded one million in 2017, a 51 per cent increase from the year before. One forecast estimates that EVs will make up five per cent of global car sales by 2022. In Norway, for example, it is cheaper to run a car on electricity than petrol or diesel because of the country’s reliance on hydropower.

In Australia, the situation is much different. Despite the our reputation as early adopters of disruptive technology, we are lagging behind when it comes to uptake of electric cars— which account for just 0.1 per cent of the Australian market.

To better understand this trend, Australian startup Evenergi has partnered with ARENA to launch Charge Together. This initiative seeks to examine why EV uptake has been so slow in Australia and what it would take to boost adoption. Through the Australian Government, ARENA has provided half the funding for the $350,000 project.

Charge Together will target potential EV customers in South Australia through marketing and social media campaigns, and conduct behavioural research to identify infrastructure needs and issues around education. This will include examining “range anxiety”—when people are concerned about access to charging stations.

Some participants will be provided with technology to monitor their energy usage at home and in their car to highlight the cost implications of life with and without an EV.

Another pillar of the campaign is to increase public awareness of EVs and renewable energy. Members of the public will have the opportunity to test drive the vehicles and learn more about the practical consequences of living with an EV at a Green Drive day in Adelaide in April. Evenergi will use the data from its consumer research to produce a report of policy recommendations and to develop a publicly available online tool allowing people to calculate the costs associated with EV ownership.

The initiative will also provide car manufacturers with much-needed information about EV demand and usage, and a valuable mechanism to access a community of potential customers in the future.

Evenergi founder and CEO Daniel Hilson says that the successful implementation of incentives and infrastructure required to increase EV adoption rely on regional programs, rather than national ones.

“In order to get rapid acceleration of EV adoption, you need to focus heavily in one area and solve all the problems of infrastructure, education, and getting vehicles to market at one time,” he says.

“The idea of the program is to bring all the right stakeholders to the table—the government, the distribution network provider, the manufacturers, the people who provide infrastructure…such as charging stations…to try to work in a coordinated way in one place to drive adoption.”

The locality-based model has met with success in the UK, where EVs made up 4.2 per cent of new car registrations in 2016.

“The government in the UK has given large grants to different councils to run large-scale adoption campaigns [in their area],” says Hilson. “So, rather than trying to do the whole UK, they’ve said, ‘there are high concentrations of the right demographics in these areas—let’s incentivise it to get those areas to work.’”

South Australia, where around 50 per cent of energy comes from renewable sources and rooftop PV penetration has hit 37 per cent, was the logical starting point for the campaign, says Hilson.

“Understanding the potential impacts of EVs on both home energy use and the electricity network will provide valuable knowledge on how EVs can maximise the use of local generation, while integrating a more flexible renewable distribution grid of the future,” says ARENA CEO Mr Ivor Frischknecht.

Evenergi is  also working with SA Power Networks, the  Adelaide Council,  South Australian Government, and the Australian Electric Vehicle Association.

If you’re in South Australia and want to be part of the program, head to the Charge Together website.

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