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ACT aims for zero carbon transport sector, with launch of EV plan

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Having led the country on renewable energy policy and ambition, the ACT is shifting its focus to its transport sector, the decarbonisation of which it says will be crucial to achieving the Territory’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Picking up where his predecessor, Simon Corbell, left off, the ACT’s new minister for climate change and sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, said on Wednesday that the capital could be a world leader in making cars, buses and light rail zero emission forms of transport.

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In comments to be delivered at the launch of the Zero Carbon Australia Electric Vehicles Report by Beyond Zero Emissions on Wednesday night, Rattenbury described Canberra as an ideal location to encourage the shift to electric vehicles.

“The ACT has an ambitious, achievable plan to produce zero net emissions by 2050 at the latest. Given the transport sector will produce 60 per cent of the Territory’s greenhouse gas emissions once we have 100 per cent renewable electricity production in 2020, transforming our transport sector will be a crucial part of achieving this goal,” he said.

Rattenbury said that work on decarbonising Canberra’s transport sector had already started, with his government building a renewable energy powered light rail and overseeing a 12-month trial of electric buses, which will also run on renewable electricity.

“We’re well on the way to becoming an electric vehicle city,” Rattenbury said. “We already have five public electric vehicle charging stations in the city, and a research and development pilot project that is a key step in building an electric vehicle charging network in Canberra.”

The BZE report, launched on Wenedsday, outlines a pathway for Canberra to shift to electric vehicles, but in a previous broader report, released in August, Beyond Zero Emissions has asserted that the entire nation could move to a 100 per cent electric vehicle fleet within 10 years at a maximum cost of $20 per person per week.

The August BZE report also flagged the possibility that this massive transition could be done at no extra cost at all. But it stressed that such a shift would require the right policy incentives to be put into place, particularly those allowing businesses and individuals to buy, lease or otherwise access EVs for more trips.

As BZE CEO Simon Bygrave wrote here in August, this would position Australia to stay in the game on the technology and ultimately allow Australia to take full advantage of rapidly falling EV prices.

Michael Lord, who is currently BZE’s acting CEO, said on Wednesday that while the price of battery electric vehicles was prohibitive to many people right now, it was rapidly falling.

“The price of the battery has come down 65 per cent since 2010, so we’re beginning to see them start to compete with the cost of petrol cars, especially because of the lower cost of running,” he said.

In Canberra, Rattenbury noted that another major point for policy consideration was around what recharging options should look like.

“Most people [charge their cars] at home so the public ones are really about having those emergency options so there is a debate among planners about how many recharging spots we need or whether it’s in fact about making sure we get the options into new buildings so the people can charge them in the basement areas of apartment blocks, in the basement areas of office blocks.

“I’d expect the buildings of the future will have these options being built straight into the basement and you’ll see people down there with the cables all of the time.”  

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  • trackdaze

    With australia a net importer of the majority of its fuel this makes perfect sense. Something like 14% of all our imports are fuel.

    Again we see the world is moving too fast for the “leave it to beaver” gen right wing “Con”servative dinosaurs.

    • Peter Campbell

      The way to talk EVs to right wing types is to ask if they would rather we have transport fuel independence or long, vulnerable supply lines back to dubious types in the middle east.

      • trackdaze

        Whilst that makes perfect sense.

        I am beginning to think the tinhats like being dependant

      • john

        They probably think we are independent that is a common idea i am afraid.

      • Robin_Harrison

        But if we aren’t dependant on middle east oil how will the military/industrial complex make massive profits defending it?

  • Rob

    I applaud the progress that Corbell and Rattenbury have, and are, making towards 100 percent renewable energy in the ACT and now a plan to de-carbonise transport there as well. I disagree with Shane though when he says the only need for public charging stations is as an emergency option. There need to be fast chargers for public use, that ultimately become as ubiquitous as petrol stations are now. There are a lot of potential EV owners who cannot consider buying an EV simply because they cannot re-charge at home. A lot of people do not have off street parking and this currently prevents them from buying an EV. Fastned in the Netherlands is rolling out fast-chargers specifically in urban areas to support potential EV owners who cannot charge at home. Their energy comes from solar and wind and it costs the same as what you’d pay if you charged at home. Restricting EVs only to people who have the ability to charge at home is a barrier that will prevent the full uptake of electric vehicles and the full de-carbonising of transport.

    • Peter Campbell

      Access to EV charging for people in strata-titled properties can be tricky but there are some interesting models, including owners corporation solar PV in combination with charging provided as a utility service, metered and paid for via strata levies. I think the main place for fast chargers is a few around town for confidence building and rare emergency, then more at intervals along highways to provide extra-urban range. In the last 8 years of EV driving I have rarely charged anywhere away from home or wished that I could, but I do have access to a petrol car for long range trips out of town several times a year.

      • Mike Shackleton

        Resolving the issue of strata would be as simple as having a mini smart meter (with a lock for security) for each parking space, in lieu of being able to run a cable from each unit’s meter.

        • Peter Campbell

          Easy to do when the developer puts it in at the start. Retrofitting runs into difficulties with owners who are reluctant to spend money on an upgrade, especially for something none of the owners are yet using.
          Depending on configurations of parking and electricity supplies it could be physically cheap and easy or expensive and difficult.

    • Michael Dufty

      I think he is right, at this stage public charging are emergency use and for longer trips. When EV penetration gets over 50% then you might think about the problems of people who can’t charge at home, but it is not a priority. Especially in Australia where it is very rare not to have some kind of off street parking associated with a residence. I suspect by the time EV ownership gets to those levels the charging requirements will look very different to now too.

      • sueb

        just to comment, it is a priority if you live out of town, want to use EV as much as possible but are limited by number of rapid (level 3 charge stations).

    • Charles

      Fast chargers don’t need to be as ubiquitous as petrol stations. Petrol stations much cover 100% of the refuelling demand of petrol vehicles. Fast chargers only need to cover about 5% of the recharging demand of electric vehicles. Add to the fact that fast chargers can be as minimal as a bollard in a car park and you’ll see fast chargers will be much less visible.
      Slow charging is still the preferred method – apartment building car parks need to adjust, workplace car parks need to adjust, but going to a fast charger all the time should be a last resort.

    • sueb

      completely agree. We actually live out of Canberra and if we are to make best use of the EV – need rapid charging stations in each of the major town centres. To my knowledge Phillip/Woden doesn’t have one which means I have to currently go to Civic, Piallago, or Tuggers to recharge if I’m making a couple of run around errands to get home past Queanbeyan – yes one in Q would be good too. Fast charge is ok if I’m alone – but if I’ve got the grandkids they’re not real happy to sit through a fast charge to get them home up the mountain a bit. But compliments to ACT on it’s efforts indeed despite a Federal Govt which ….bla bla bla.

    • Viv

      The main thing stopping people buying a new EV today is that there are virtually none available for purchase in the Australian marketplace (with nothing available at mainstream prices). Of the very few models that are available, not many owners would want to park their $120-250K Tesla S/X in the street overnight (likewise owners of $75-90K BMW i3s). That’s it!

      When you can finally get an EV for a reasonable price sometime between 2020 and 2025 (eg Hyundai Ioniq, E-Golf, next gen Nissan LEAF) with a range up to 300km, here’s betting you never use urban rapid charging. The only situations you will use it is for rapid inter-city travel.

      By 2020, local governments should be in a position to allowed controlled roadside overnight trickle charging (possibly even Level 2 32A/3-Phase) to allow you to recharge within 4 hours. Otherwise daytime trickle charging in city car parks or at work. If you don’t drive to work then you probably don’t need a car, hence plan on accessing an EV for occasional use via car share.

  • aggri1

    Too bad that there are almost no electric vehicles for sale in Australia. Unless you’re very rich and can afford the Tesla, or even the BMW i3, what option is there? Nissan website says no Leafs, there’s no (longer) Holden/GM Volt, will not be a Bolt, no mention of electric option on the Kia website, no Renault Zoe (nor any other electric Renault), no Focus Electric, no longer even the iMiev (Mitsubishi), no electric VW Golf, no electric B-class Merc’ (or Smart for that matter)… Pretty dismal state of affairs.

    Good on the ACT for attempting to make some progress despite the best efforts of the current Federal Government.

    • Charles

      The Australian Electric Vehicle Association is in talks with fleet operators across the country to form a bulk negotiation with manufacturers. If they can go to Hyundai, Renault, etc. and say “we [state government departments, local councils, etc.] will buy 500 of these vehicles if you provide them” that’s pretty compelling. It also means that in about three years there will be 500 second hand EVs on the market – making them more accessible.
      If you are interested in more info, get in touch with them via their website.

    • john

      When the leaf was first made i contacted the National Sales Manager of Nissan Australia and asked to be put down to buy one.
      His words were “What is a Leaf?”
      So things have not improved it seems.

      • Peter Campbell

        A friend bought a Leaf a few years ago from local Nissan dealer #2 who was helpful and gave him a good deal after Nissan dealer #1 tried to talk him out of it. Of course he recommended Nissan dealer #2 to all his friends and was uncomplimentary about #1.

        • john

          I am hearing you Peter the common about auto dealers they do not know much about the product in my experience and I previously was a fleet owner discount person so had purchased a lot of vehicles both small and heavy transport vehicles.

    • trackdaze

      Top seller in australia?

      Mitsubishi outlander phev. 12kwhr battery within price range of existing similarly sized vehicles.

      Thanks
      .

      • Peter Campbell

        Yes. A good option if you want a single vehicle to do everything. 12KWh is enough to cover nearly all local driving electric from the wall and then for longer trips it is not too bad on petrol efficiency. Practical for 4WD, towing, camping trips etc

  • solarguy

    In an ideal world 100% EV for the whole nation in 10yrs, could be achievable, but it’s a pipe dream, at least 20-25yrs.

    • Mark Roest

      On what grounds?

      • solarguy

        Those on low- mid low income that can only afford 2nd hand cars now, will have to wait for an EV to become available that is affordable.
        Charging infrastructure, will be slow to implement especially in regional areas, slowing uptake.
        There will be those that no matter what, will hang on to their diesel/petrol machines.
        Government policy needs to back it as well, read slow to change.
        In 10yrs, because of the above we would be lucky to see 40-50% penetration of EV. However, if oil becomes scarce and or they don’t get the capitol to drill for it, which is starting to happen now, there could be an acceleration of EV uptake. Apart from that low income people will need financial incentive/ help.