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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 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,” 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,” Reed said.

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