ACT takes lead on EVs, all new government cars to be zero emissions | RenewEconomy

ACT takes lead on EVs, all new government cars to be zero emissions

ACT unveils major push into electric vehicles, including zero emission mandate for government fleets, charging infrastructure, use of transit lanes, salary sacrifice for electric bikes, and studies on using EVs and their batteries to help manage the grid.


The ACT government has doubled up on its commitment to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020 by announcing the country’s most ambitious transition plan to electric vehicles, including a mandate for all newly leased government vehicles to be zero emissions from 2021.

The commitment came as part of a new transport strategy unveiled by energy minister Shane Rattenbury, timed quite deliberately some four days ahead of the COAG meeting that will decide on the latest proposal for Australia’s future climate and energy policy.

The initiatives include a study of solar-powered charging stations in car parks, vehicle-to-grid studies, use of transit lanes, and salary sacrifice options, as well as parking and building requirements.

The ACT has already contracted with some 650MW of wind and solar farms that will deliver the equivalent of ACT’s annual electricity consumption by 2020. Most of the new facilities are now complete or under construction.

The transport strategy – and the push to zero emissions vehicles – is the next phase, and the plan outlined by Rattenbury represents by far the most ambitious plan of any state or territory government in the country.

Transport will account for 60 per cent of the ACT’s annual emissions once its electricity target is met.

“Zero emissions vehicles offer a clean, reliable and smart option for travel in Canberra,” Rattenbury says. “From 2020 in the ACT, all electricity will be from renewable sources – so using a zero emissions vehicle charged in the ACT will result in no greenhouse gas emissions.”

Australia, disappointingly, trails the western world in vehicle emission standards, and tentative proposals to tighten the legislation have been met with fear campaigns and accusations that they would be some sort of carbon tax.

But the ACT says the EVs are expected to be taken up rapidly around the world, noting the commitments by numerous major car manufacturers to transform their fleets, and by governments such as Norway, Netherlands, the UK and France to ban petrol and diesel vehicles from dates ranging from 2025 to 2040.

The ACT has already introduced discounted registration and stamp duty costs for EVs, but the new initiative takes this much further – for both electric cars and electric bikes, which it sees as a major new attraction for consumers.

The initiatives include:

  • At least 50 per cent of all newly leased ACT Government fleet passenger vehicles will be zero emissions vehicles in 2019–20 (where fit for purpose).
  • All newly leased ACT Government passenger fleet vehicles will be zero emissions vehicles from 2020–21 (where fit for purpose).
  • Amend the Parking and Vehicle Access General Code to require all new multi-unit and mixed-use developments to install vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Work with local and state governments to facilitate the installation of charging stations on major routes to and from Canberra including routes to Sydney and coastal areas.
  • Permit zero emissions vehicles to drive in transit lanes until 2023.
  • Conduct a feasibility assessment for the installation of covered car parks with solar-powered vehicle charging stations.
  • Investigate providing incentives to encourage the use of electric bikes including through more secure bike parking and bike charging stations.
  • Amend tax arrangements to allow ACT Government staff to salary sacrifice an electric bike.
  • Support new and innovative businesses in the zero emissions vehicles sector to maximise job creation and economic development in the ACT.
  • Investigate the potential use of electric vehicle batteries to support the electricity grid at times of peak demand.
  • Review parking and traffic regulations to ensure that priorities offered to zero emission vehicles can be enforced; and provide specific zero emissions vehicle number plates for easy identification and enforcement of zero emissions vehicles related regulations (e.g. ensuring only zero emissions vehicles park and charge in allocated spaces for vehicle charging).

The Electric Vehicle Council said the government purchasing mandate sets a benchmark for other governments and will send a strong signal to the market to bring more models into the country.

So far the ACT government car fleet has just 17 battery electric vehicles, and 7 plug-in hybrids, along with eight electric bicycles, and has begun trials of two battery electric buses and one hybrid bus running on diesel, and proposes 20 hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles over the next two years.

The trial began in August 2017 and will run until late 2018, with the trial buses servicing a number of routes throughout Canberra. The results of this trial will provide information on issues to consider in making the transition to a zero emissions bus fleet.

The ACT says there are currently more than 200 battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars registered in the territory. Australia has around 4,000 such vehicles, a take-up that is being held back by the lack of new EV models available in Australia.

The uptake of electric vehicles in the ACT is not only required to deliver on the territory’s emission reduction targets, but it will also reduce the cost of transportation for residents,” said council president Behyad Jafari.

“The uptake of electric vehicles also presents great opportunities for the development of new businesses and jobs in Australia.”

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  1. itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

    I’ve a feeling that ACT will in practice remain heavily dependent on NSW coal fired generation for a good while yet. Meanwhile it will be taxpayers who fund the expensive government fleet. Still, what else do you expect of politicians other than to waste taxpayer funds?

    • Ray Miller 3 years ago

      You have no idea what you are writing about and seem to be incapable of logical reasoning.

      • itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

        So you’re going to explain how the ACT gets the power it bought from Hornsdale wind farm when South Australia is importing power. YOu will also explain how ACT avoids getting the power mix produced in NSW, despite being completely surrounded by it:

        Incapacity with logic seems to be your problem not mine.

        • Giles 3 years ago

          Are you under some sort of delusion that each individual electron is individually tagged, his, hers and theirs? The electricity is thrown into a pool, as you should well know, and they take from it, through a series of contracts, PPA’s, spot purchases and swaps and caps etc. This is as true for the ACT as it is for the Tomago refinery does when it “contracts” from Liddell coal generator, which as we all know is off line and at half capacity most of the time.

          • itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

            Are you under some sort of illusion that electricity flows in accordance with contracts, rather than the laws of physics? When NSW is exporting to VIC there is simply no way for power to flow to ACT from SA. So the reality is that ACT supply is physically limited to the small amounts of its own solar, and power from the nearby grid. At times that includes a good chunk of Snowy Hydro, but mostly it is heavily coal dependent, as the NEM widget shows. If demand increases in ACT, it is met by local supply: it would be nonsense to tell the wind to blow harder at Hornsdale and to find a transmission route to ACT.

          • Giles 3 years ago

            No one is suggesting they do. I see you are clearly getting tired – I see you have made 16,000 posts on Disqus in the last few years promoting your ideology, and it is clearly getting the better of you. Perhaps you should take a break.

          • MaxG 3 years ago

            wow, quite an effort, I give him/her that :))

          • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

            ‘itdoesntaddup’ still doesn’t add up but it’s amazing how energetic these deniers of climate/science/renewables are.

          • itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

            You were suggesting that they do. So you are no-one is the logical conclusion.

          • Thucydides 3 years ago

            Hahaha. How do you know the $50 notes you withdrew from the ATM last week weren’t the proceeds of crime deposited by your local Ice dealer?

          • itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

            Utterly irrelevant to discussing the flow of electricity in the grid.

          • Thucydides 3 years ago


          • PLDD 3 years ago

            You are absolutely right. The “renewable electron” the ACT contacts gets mixed up with all the others. So the solar electrons from their Cooma array ge lost in the mix, as do the wind electrons from the Lake George turbines.

            But as lots of people put their cheaper renewable electrons in the bucket a higher and higher percentage of power is renewable. Keep doing it and we move from 20% renewable, to 40 to 80 and onwards.

            It’s like buying a shout at the bar, if everyone takes there turn life is good. If some rat bags don’t things are not so good. The more every state, every company and every household does the faster we will have a high proportion of clean energy.

            The good news is states, companies, and individuals appreciate a simple fact. Renewable energy is already cheaper than coal and it’s getting cheaper. The Federal Government is like Video Ezy pretending movie downloads won’t become popular, or Gerry Harvey pretending People won’t buy from Amazon or EBay.

          • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

            “It’s like buying a shout at the bar, if everyone takes there turn life is good. If some rat bags don’t things are not so good.”
            The LNP’s NEG is designed to help some states get away with free-loading on other states.

          • Peter F 3 years ago

            NSW is a net importer see AER and has been every year for 20 years, of course it occasionally exports to Victoria but it imports a lot more. Quite often you can see SA exporting 500 MW to Victoria and Victoria exporting even more to NSW, that’s how the power gets from Hornsdale to the ACT

          • itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

            Most of NSW’s imports are from coal fired Queensland and from lignite fired Victoria. However, as I pointed out there are frequent spells when the only possible sources of power for Canberra do not include Hornsdale, because the current is flowing in the opposite direction into South Australia. Even when South Australia exports, those exports do not flow all across Victoria to NSW except in very rare circumstances. They are consumed almost entirely in the state of Victoria. Look at the grid, and the locations of generation and demand.

          • Cooma Doug 3 years ago

            You are full of wierd ideas. I think you understand a few things about physics. So ill give you a concept from your own thinking.
            Electrons in copper conductors move at about 2.5 cm per hour.
            The electron leaving SA as you describe will take several thousand years to get to parliament house.
            We are dealing with market signals which travel at the speed of light.

        • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

          So, if you owed me $10 but then we remembered that you paid for our $30 lunch and I just gave you $20, would you agree that the flow of cash was from me to you so it is not possible for $10 to have flowed from you to me and I should insist that you still owe me $10?

          • itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

            We both ate lunch provided by the chef at the restaurant. That is the real flow of goods.

    • Steve159 3 years ago

      I think it is preferable that politicians waste money, rather than you wasting screen space here.

      And btw, the smart money says ITDOESADDUP (seen any investors rushing to build a coal-fired power station lately? Nope).

    • Joe 3 years ago

      As the rest of the world is moving to EV’s it shows that ITDOESADDUP. Wanting to stay with ICE….itdoesntaddup…unless you a Trolli.

      • itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

        What is the percentage of EVs in the global vehicle fleet?

  2. Ray Miller 3 years ago

    Great news and long overdue policy. With Australia strategic fuel reserves running at a small number of days I would think our national security is very exposed to any number of threats to our fuel supply line so we need to convert our transport sector as quickly as possible.
    The article made no specific mention of long distant trucking? This should be at least included as an objective which can be implemented when the new trucks are available.

    How about including the humble lawnmower and brush-cutters as well? Due to the lack of emission control on these devices they are a major health hazard to the users and anyone nearby. As a recent convert, there is no going back to old tech, I was very skeptical being in an up to 3 metre rainfall area but the new devices do the job and for about 1kWh from my solar system. What’s not to like.

    This all begs the question of our electricity infrastructure eluded to; we will need some serious engineering in the design, scale-ability, management and resource matching to make this all work at high penetrations. From some of the NEM presentations just a few short months ago I fear that the take up rate of EV’s is grossly underestimated.

    • Rod 3 years ago

      There was a Federal bill that went through a couple of Months back banning the importation of 2 stroke lawnmowers and brushcutters etc. I think 4 stroke is still OK but it seems battery versions are becoming more popular and affordable. There is probably a grace period.

      • MaxG 3 years ago

        I switched to battery powered tools (Makita 2 x 18V) — never looked back… thinking of modifying the sit on to go electric (not 2x18V though)

        • Rod 3 years ago

          I’m sure there will be people like me who:
          a) are sick of tools that won’t start when you use them once in a blue moon and
          b) can’t stand the stinking unhealthy fumes.
          The high torque of electric motors is also well suited to ride on mowers I would think.

          • Ian 3 years ago

            I daw a demonstration of all electric mowing and landscaping gear by a contractor last week…. He leaves all his old petrol gear in the shed now.
            All the electric gear works better, smells better, doesn’t vibrate joints, starts first time every time and is lighter.
            And he has had nothing repaired for the 8 months since swapping over, instead of something at the mechanics nearly every week
            He said many blokes remain unconvinced because the electric gear is too quiet!

        • PLDD 3 years ago

          You will need a long extension cord…!

          • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

            For those uneducated among us, there are these new fangled things call batteries. I have recently replaced my mower, line trimmer, leaf blower, chainsaw & drill/screwdriver, all using Ryobi One+ 18 volt Li-Ion batteries. All will be powered by solar in a few weeks. In the meantime, whenever I go to Bunnings, I always check out what the latest gadget Ryobi has released. Currently 60+ different tools.
            No, I don’t work for Ryobi (or Bunnings).
            Replacing the lawnmower is what started it all. The large self propelled 5.5hp beast was too heavy (for 2 people) to take up a flight of stairs from the garage to the lawn area (we have just moved to a new house). The replacement is so light my wife can lift it with one hand, and carry it up the stairs. (I can too, but she likes mowing). It is also much quieter, easy to push (does not need to be self propelled), has no smell or dangerous fumes, requires near zero maintenance, only has one moving part, and does not need a petrol can to be stored in the garage. On the down side, there is a small (not zero %) chance that the Li-Ion batteries (I have 3) MAY catch fire one day, but they are not left on trickle charge to minimize the risk.

          • PLDD 3 years ago

            Well Greg, it’s was meant as a bit of a joke. I also have all electric tools powered by solar. I tend to use mains powered for bigger items like lawn mowers rather than batteries because they are far cheaper. Much to the consternation of my neighbors I even use an electric chain saw.

            When I lived in the UK electric garden tools were the standard (petrol powered was far more expensive) and I think we just get used to using corded tools safely.

            It was disappointing to see Flymo stop distributing their mower in Australia. They were incredibly lightweight, inexpensive and very good for uneven or sloped lawns. Given the number of petrol mowers in Bunnings I assume it was indicative of market receptiveness.

    • Rod 3 years ago
      I couldn’t find the actual bill but this describes the situation.

  3. Brunel 3 years ago

    I hope plug in hybrids are allowed – they have an all electric range of 30-80 km and can obviously go deep into rural NSW with the petrol engine.

    Also, other cities (such as Kathmandu and Delhi) need electric buses more desperately than Canberra. Should the ACT be hogging the limited supply of electric buses when Canberra is not that polluted?

    • Viv 3 years ago

      You would have thought that zero emissions means either full BEV or FCEV using green hydrogen otherwise they are just low emission vehicles.

      You’d have to wonder whether Treasury in the ACT has crunched the numbers on this ambitious policy announcement because it is going to be very expensive to implement.

      • Brunel 3 years ago

        The Mitsubishi Outlander with a 12 kWh battery is a zero CO2 car when going to school and back.

        The Volt can be driven daily for 6 months without using a drop of petrol.

        Superchargers are not everywhere. Hybrids are an affordable way to have zero CO2 motoring when going to the shops and back.

        • Steve Woots 3 years ago

          so why would you lug the Volt’s heavy ICE around for 6 months? Not needing something for 6 months is pretty good proof that you *don’t* need it.

          • Brunel 3 years ago

            The battery in the Jaguar i-Pace is 600 kg. A petrol engine weighs 120 kg.

            Hybrids are a great solution till a 350 kW charging network is developed. No, not every public servant has a garage with electricity.

            They are also a great solution till batteries become lighter. At $100/kWh, a 90 kWh battery is $9k!

          • Ian 3 years ago

            You sort of have a point there, regarding plugin hybrids, but these are not the ideal in a carbon constrained world. You’d think any incentives for EV would be for pure EV, since that is the ideal. Perhaps disincentives could exclude plugins since on short commutes very little fuel is needed.

          • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

            Neither our short-range pure battery electric car nor our plug-in series hybrid uses any petrol for our urban trips. Petrol has been useful three times this year so far for longer trips out of town.

          • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

            The alternative to the Volt’s ICE is lugging about a larger battery of similar weight yet not needing that much larger battery capacity nearly all the time. We have two cars in our household, a Volt and an iMiEV. Neither uses any petrol for any of our local trips. For a longer trip out of town, we take the Volt.

        • Ian 3 years ago

          Child on bicycle uses no electricity to get to school and back.

          • Brunel 3 years ago

            Need cycleways though. Some old residential roads are so wide, you could easily fit a cycleway on it.

      • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

        Actually, the policy got up because it doesn’t cost very much.

    • Steve Woots 3 years ago

      your evidence that e-buses are limited in supply?

      • Brunel 3 years ago

        The Model 3 backlog.

    • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

      It’s not just about local pollution. An electric bus running all day in Canberra will keep more fossil fuel in the ground and less CO2 in the air than an electric bus doing the same somewhere else with a dirtier electricity grid. We are on our way to 100% renewable very soon.

      • Brunel 3 years ago

        Canberra is getting a tram line. Trams run on electricity.

        The guy who masterplanned Canberra probably left space for more tram lines to be built.

        The electricity grid in polluted 3rd world cities is not 100% coal powered. And there are basically no coal power stations in Beijing and Delhi. I still think Canberra should not hog the very limited supply of electric buses.

        • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

          The more we buy electric buses, the more people who make buses will make them electric rather than diesel. Thank the people who bought PV panels in the early days for your cheap PV now.

          • Brunel 3 years ago

            An assembly line worker could afford to buy a Ford Model T with about 4 months of salary.

            Governments were too corrupted to spend money on public transport that could be used by those who do not have a driving licence (kids, elderly, poor) or have had their licence suspended.

            Melbourne held onto its trams, other cities (SYD, ADL) got rid of them and are now putting them back in.

            Amsterdam and Copenhagen get around on bicycles – which do not wear out the road at all. To boot, it keeps the population from becoming obese.

            Now, lithium ion batteries are fitted to bicycles and skateboards to enable injured people to travel. Just need to build cycleways.

    • Sam Smith 3 years ago

      Supply of electric buses isn’t really limited at all.

      There are over 100,000 electric buses already in China. China is aiming to have all buses electric by 2025. I’m not sure why I can’t paste links in, but do a quick search on electric buses in China.

      The ACT has a fleet of just under 500 buses.

      While there is a backlog of Tesla cars coming to Australia, that doesn’t affect the production of BYD in China.

    • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

      Yes, includes anything with a plug.

  4. Les Johnston 3 years ago

    The integration of EVs into the electricity network as storage components of up to 60kW makes for a more diverse electricity network. I am sure the electrons will spin their heads off no knowing which way to go!

  5. Ian 3 years ago

    Good on the ACT to take decarbonisation further. Each change in the right direction gives encouragement to take further steps forward towards 100% renewables.

    V2G and other trials an excellent idea. They could trial EV subsidies, perhaps a kind of shared ownership of the EV battery pack.

    As an idea, the battery pack component of the vehicle is paid for by subsidiser in exchange for control of the battery while it is plugged in to charge and discharge as needed by the grid, with enough residual charge left for most normal travel.

  6. evan franklin 3 years ago

    This announcement of the ACT Government’s plans to transition Canberra to an electric vehicle city is really welcome news. Hooray!

    Giles, I suspect what one or two of your readers might be trying to point out (though not very clearly and seemingly not without getting caught up in rather pointless debates, in this case, about transmission system power flows) is that increasing electric vehicle load can only really give the best result from an emissions perspective if renewable generation is also increased to match. If we assume that all of the ACT’s currently contracted renewable generation is fully dispatched when it as able to be (which, as far as I am aware, is still certainly true) then any marginal load in the ACT (addition of electric vehicles for example) will effectively come at an emissions intensity factor equivalent to that of the NSW NEM regional reference node, which unfortunately is still quite high.

    Of course the ACT Government will be only too aware of that and surely will be making plans to suit. This plan to start transitioning the ACT to an EV territory in fact paves the way very nicely for the ACT to re-double its commitment to renewable energy, and build even more wind and solar!

    • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

      All they need to now then is TAX all ICE vehicles in the whole Territory, not just the CBD. Set up toll gates at all entrances (to the ACT) on all major roads. Free for EV’s, and taxed to the hilt for everyone else. That might ruffle a few feathers though 😉

  7. Le Clair 3 years ago

    Supercapacitors my friends. Saw a company just last week now selling supercapacitors as an alternative to chemical batteries. WOW! So safe they can be transported by ‘plane with no special treatment, they can charge fully (and discharge) in minutes. 100% capacity usable, tested to 1 million charge/discharge cycles (that’s nearly 3,000 yeas) with zero degradation. Steel, paper and graphene – no disposal or recycling problems for your offspring (in 30 generations time). Best of all, cheaper than any alternate chemical storage solution.

    • Chris Jones 3 years ago

      They are lithium titanate cells, not supercapacitors. The ACCC will come down on them like a ton of feathers if they keep calling their storage product something that it isn’t.

    • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

      Please supply a link…

  8. Keninoz_1 2 years ago

    Great initiative. Too bad their big brothers on the hill don’t show some leadership on such an important issue.

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