Australia could be world leader in solar-powered electric vehicles | RenewEconomy

Australia could be world leader in solar-powered electric vehicles

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Major utility says Australia could be world leader in uptake of solar-powered electric vehicles. Using the high penetration of rooftop solar, it recommends a series of initiatives to increase volumes and drive down prices. Brown coal generators are also in its sights.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The shift from petrol cars to electric vehicles appears to be more than a consumer-driven, Tesla-inspired phenomenon. The big utilities are also getting on board.

Origin Energy, one of country’s big three utilities, says Australia could a market leader in solar-powered electric vehicles, given the right incentives and policies that could encourage the uptake of renewable energy and force the closure of the most polluting brown coal power stations.

“With an already high penetration of residential solar PV systems in Queensland and South Australia and the emergence of home battery technologies, there is an exciting opportunity for Australia to be a market leader in electric vehicles powered by solar energy,” the company says in a submission to the Climate Change Authority.

Nearly one quarter of Australian homes are equipped with rooftop solar, and Australia is seen as the likely first “mass-market” for battery storage – because of that high solar penetration and because of the country’s high electricity prices, courtesy of its high-cost grid.

solarEVmacCastleAnecdotal evidence suggests that many of the early adopters of electric vehicles are already charging their EVs with their own rooftop solar, and utilities are already switching controlled loads for electric hot water systems back to the day-time from overnight to take advantage of excess solar power.

Utilities say EVs can fill the same function, and the uptake of battery storage could help shift that solar-charging into the evening. And by using rooftop solar, it addresses criticism that EVs don’t really reduce emissions in a coal-intensive grid.

Origin says the potential for EVs is significant, but the take-up so far in Australia has been small, with less than 1,000 vehicles sold up to the end of 2014, although those numbers have since been boosted by the enthusiasm for the upmarket Tesla Model S, and more recently the huge interest in the yet-to-be delivered Model 3.

Origin suggests a range of policies that would help increase demand, such as support for fleet purchases, infrastructure such as charge points, and reductions for stamp duty and registration, along with preferential parking and traffic lanes treatment.

It also suggests electric vehicle sales can be coupled with GreenPower or similar products so that they are immediately powered by fully renewable electricity generation.

Origin also points to the opportunities for Australian industry to become more involved in the manufacture and support of electric vehicle components and the charging infrastructure.

The points made by Origin follow from similar proposals made by the Electricity Supply Council, and buy a consortium of utilities, network operators, advocacy and research groups, and city councils last week.

Australia currently has no standards on its vehicle emissions, and while the Australian government is talking about introducing such policies, it is now being urged to be highly ambitious by a number of industry groups.

Transport emissions account for around 17 per cent of Australia’s total emissions, and are growing rapidly. The report by the pro-EV consortium last week suggested that Victoria is the only state where the emissions would rise with widespread uptake of EVs, because of its brown coal generators.

Across the National Electricity Market, EVs would actually reduce emissions, and particularly so in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Origin and others are now pushing the major parties to follow international examples and impose restrictions on brown coal generators.

“Standards are currently being implemented in North America with the US basing theirs on emissions intensity and Canada on the age of its generators,” Origin said in its submission.

“Either policy could be applied in Australia. In comparison to a carbon tax or emission trading scheme, standards are simple to communicate to the public and their results are more tangible.”

Alternatively, Origin says a proposal to fund the exit of brown coal generators proposed by ANU academics is worth pursuing. Although it does not favour payments to generators, it would support funding for communities for structural adjustment.

Another option is morphing the Coalition’s Direct Action scheme into something that is actually useful. This could be done by transforming the Safeguards Mechanism from something that protects the current level of emissions by large polluters into a mechanism that can force significant reductions.

Origin says it is supportive of a shift to an “emissions intensive” safeguards mechanism that would effectively set a bar on emissions and require heavily polluting facilities such as brown coal generators to buy permits from cleaner generators.

A policy brief released by the Grattan Institute released on Monday explores this further, saying that the safeguards mechanism could be a tool that could see the two major parties find agreement on climate policies – something that has not been achieved since John Howard supported emissions trading in the 2007 election.

Grattan says the safeguard mechanism needs to be set – virtually immediately – at a level that corresponds with Australia’s medium and long term emissions reduction targets. It, too, talks of an “emissions intensive” category for individual power generators, rather than an “overall” baseline for the sector.

But it wants the government to go further and reduce baselines to zero. “Businesses covered by the scheme will then have to hold permits for all their emissions. This final step, which should be taken within a decade, creates the structure to deliver tougher future targets at low cost.”

Grattan argues that this represents a sensible compromise to the toxic politics that has dominated the climate change arena for the best part of a decade.

“Our roadmap allows a Coalition Government to modify its Safeguard Mechanism so that it no longer merely prevents emissions from going up, but drives them down in line with agreed targets,” it says. “The roadmap enables the Coalition to do this via steps that are consistent with its political constraints.”

It notes Labor remains committed to emissions trading as its centrepiece for a policy that will meet an ambitious, but yet undetermined target and also deliver 50 per cent renewable energy. “The roadmap shows how a future Labor government could take the Coalition’s policy framework and move to its preferred emissions trading model.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  1. mike111ryan 4 years ago

    Australia will NEVER be a leader in solar powered cars. Our domestic population is too small and we are too far away from prospective customers.

    • solarguy 4 years ago

      Mike that doesn’t make sense. Other nations sell their cars and trucks to us, so do you really think, that they think, we are too far away from them. Clearly they don’t.
      Australian industry can and has sold cars to foreign markets, now that GM and FORD are leaving we have the chance to build cars, trucks and buses by companies that are wholly Australian owned, were the profits aren’t bled off overseas.

      • rick 4 years ago

        solarguy yes all it will really take is a positive attitude to achieve so shot all liberals oh I really ment to send them packing at the next election and we will have a chance at a renewable future.

        • solarguy 4 years ago

          Shoot old boy, in the future tense.

      • david H 4 years ago

        Great idea – if we can actually make cars at a profit.

        • solarguy 4 years ago

          Why do you think we couldn’t?

          • david H 4 years ago

            Probably because I don’t see any manufacturer doing it now when they already have established facilities.

    • nakedChimp 4 years ago

      Yeah, the window of opportunity for that one closed 10 years ago.
      To get a company like Tesla up and running you need an industrial and talent base on-shore and incentivize them to get going.
      Didn’t and doesn’t happen here, as this country seems to be run as a raw material mining colony.

      Good job @ all involved!

    • Barri Mundee 4 years ago

      Maybe not a local large scale EV manufacturer but a solid customer for EV’s built OS.

  2. MrMauricio 4 years ago

    This cannot be the same Origin that wanted the RET reduced and preferably abolished.Credibility ZERO!!!

    • solarguy 4 years ago

      They will say anything to keep their Lib mates in power. No cred for sure!

  3. Carl Raymond S 4 years ago

    The term “solar-powered electric vehicle” in one breath is likely to mislead those who don’t really understand how much energy a panel captures, and how much energy a car uses. There are people who think it’s possible to cover an EV with panels and produce a car that drives forever without charging. Solar, yes. EVs, yes. Combined in one product – not really worth the few percent of additional range on a sunny day. If you’re relying on sunshine to reach destination, you’ve under-charged.

    The photo here does explain all, but the headline still shows up in searches.

    • Quiet Rush 4 years ago

      If we step away from the starting premise that mobility is always about car use and drop down a size or three in form factor, then the solutions already exist at the level of electric bikes – its just that we live in a country where cycling is undervalued and infrastructure poorly developed. We’ve been playing with the concept for several years now, riding and racing in formats where we’re running solely on Solar generated power eg But yes, solar generation capacity for the form size + battery power demands of a car is a serious mismatch at this stage. That’s why we work at the scale of bikes as a more nimble solution, able to be deployed in areas where the infrastructure is just lousy eg

      • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

        Thanks QR. what would your site indicate a good ebike consumption rate is in wh/km ?

        • Brian Bartlett 4 years ago

          My ebikes consistently use 10Wh/km. That’s a range of models from folding styles to full size. And after 18000km of use in 6 years they are very reliable.

          • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

            Only 1/40th the consumption of a large-ish car. There’s an efficiency !

      • wideEyedPupil 4 years ago

        Big Tick for EBs! There’s a new one on crowdfunding sites every few months. The cost of them is really falling while the range will grow as lithium battery and possibly other graphene hybrid technologies advance and mature. EBs don’t have the need for a high power output which EVs do thanks to our own two legs and the much lighter weight vehicle mean acceleration from a standing start can be done without any battery load at all. This should mean batteries optimised for weight and energy load over power output.

      • Ian 4 years ago

        EBikes have great consumption rates compared to much heavier cars, but can you say the ball park cost per KWH of battery storage and the expected cruising speed of an ebike? What are the primary applications you would envision for this mode of transportation? Shopping, commuting, leisure? Obviously other forms of vehicles would be more practical in certain circumstances such as push bikes for exercise and leisure , or cars for transporting children and groceries, or for longer commutes on freeways in foul weather. I love the idea of a nifty ebike but where and when would I use it?

        • Mitch 4 years ago

          I commute to work on an EB now. Used to drive my 3.2L diesel back and forth every day. I live in a hilly area and the 15kms to get to work was just a bit too hard on a regular bike. E-bike is great though, takes me 30mins, I get exercise and fresh air and have found I enjoy work more now. There are good bikeways for the majority of my commute so I’m lucky I guess. I have no idea how much CO2 or energy that saves though

    • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

      Perovskites may show some promise. 20% efficient and go on like paint. Provided you can seal out the water and oxygen. Refuel by parking the car in the sun …. can’t wait for it.

      • Mike Dill 4 years ago

        Great until your paint is scratched.

      • Ian 4 years ago

        Dammit Carl, I think you are right, people do think you can plaster a car with solar panels and expect it to run without regard to charge times. We are in Brain-storming mode when it comes to FF transport alternatives, so seemingly crazy ideas may prove worthwhile. For instance an electric RV might have solar on its roof, flexible solar on its awnings and perhaps rollout solar to supplement and have enough storage after a leisurely stop of a few days to make it to the next camp site, run the aircon, fridge and the electric bikes or ATV’s. Solar panels conforming to the shape of the car could supplement the car’s battery for air conditioning perhaps. Would this be worthwhile though?

        How about a simple calculation to see how useful solar covering a car might be. There is about 8 m2 of horizontal surface area to play with which would produce about 1KW peak at best. The leaf does 21KWH/100km so an hour of sitting in the sun might allow the vehicle to travel 4.7 km. The cost of pasting flexible solar all over the car would be about $4000 per KW, but $4000 would buy 4 to 10 KWH of batteries. 10 KWH will get you 50 km down the road. Might as well leave solar to stationary sites and spend the money on batteries.

    • Graham Albert 4 years ago

      Good, lightweight and cheap batteries are what will link solar panels and EVs on a vehicle and make it eventually possibly. Check out World Solar Challenge, (Tesla Category) held in Australia.

      • Carl Raymond S 4 years ago

        That’s the fallacy I’m trying to intercept. Solar panels can only capture the energy which lands upon them. Good solar panels are 24% efficient. Even if that doubled, you still need to charge, and when you do charge, you need to put in enough to reach destination, so the question becomes – why put PVs on an EV? Two great technologies which for practical reasons don’t belong on the same product.

        Not knocking the solar challenge – it’s a great place to hone engineering skills, but those cars can/will never be used for commuting.

        What they should consider doing is allowing each team X square meters of roll out PV and one street registered vehicle, then race those vehicles across Australia. Part of the strategy would be working out the optimum times to drive or charge.

        • Graham Albert 4 years ago

          It all depends on the length of your commute. With good high capacity , light-weight batteries you are able to trickle charge during the day enough to cover your commute.

          Analogous to trying to take a shower with the water that drips from a faucet. Can’t do it in real time. But with a good bucket, at the end of the day, you may have collected enough.

          The WSC team from the Netherlands vehicle is road certified (Stella Lux). The vehicle is much lighter than a commercial vehicle- granted. But on real, Australian Highway conditions they were able to go very long distances without recharging from the grid.

          May not be there yet, but directionally I think it’s correct. Also, I don’t think Tesla would be spending precious start up money to sponsor the competition or have its name associated with it if the idea was bogus.

          Time will tell….

          • Viv 4 years ago

            A key reason Tesla sponsors the event is to get inside running on the recruitment of the best & brightest auto, electronic and software engineering graduates from across the world. The WSC is a high tech recruiters paradise. You’d be surprised how big an HR team Tesla (as well as other leading International auto tech companies) send to Darwin/Adelaide.

    • Viv 4 years ago

      The ability to travel large distances at highway speeds on purely solar power has already been proven by the biannual World Solar Challenge from Darwin to Adelaide. This now includes the Cruiser 2 seat class.

      I recognise that there is a massive difference between 1-2 skinny people travelling uncomfortably around in an ultra low and light weight solar car prototype vs sticking a few solar cells on top of a tonne of steel and plastic and loading up the family and their gear – but nevertheless it has been proven that a purely solar car can get you across the continent at the open road speed limit.

      • Carl Raymond S 4 years ago

        Whilst you have a handle on reality Viv, I’m afraid that many don’t – they think that because technology is super-marvellous, it’s going to produce a better PV that renders the need to charge EVs obsolete. They don’t understand that the energy landing on a square meter of surface is capped by the sun’s irradiance. I’ve even seen people get angry and label it a conspiracy – a heinous plot to keep the energy companies thriving.

    • Ian 4 years ago

      Carl you have pointed out something that may play into the hands of those who would detract from EV and renewable power generation. What would you suggest as a suitable shorthand for this whole concept of using renewables generated electricity to power transportation through the use of battery storage electric vehicles? Solar powered electric vehicle sounds good to me, or maybe just solar vehicle.

      • Carl Raymond S 4 years ago

        It may be supportive of RE in that it can respond to demand management, but an EV can no more be labeled a solar vehicle than a coal vehicle. It’s an electric vehicle. That’s the the about electricity. It’s source agnostic.

        • Ian 4 years ago

          Alright, already. An electric vehicle is generally considered a battery powered vehicle, and the electricity can come from any source. You say people may think that solar powered electric vehicles implies vehicles independent of an external source of supply and you may be right. But how would you shorten or name the concept of powering transportation, namely electric vehicles with renewables ,predominantly solar? What headline would you use if you wrote the article? just curious, that’s all.

          • Carl Raymond S 4 years ago

            “Solar power plus electric cars – our ticket to fossil freedom”

  4. john 4 years ago

    Yes Australia is blessed with huge natural solar wind wave energy availability they just need an Innovative government program to make this happen.
    I am supremely confident that the new outlook from the”” innovative government”” now in place will totally make use of the resources to ensure a good utilization of the resources given free are going to be put in place.
    All those supermarkets are going to be covered in panels to supply power because of the “”innovative government”” innervation to ensure it is not just siting there doing nothing.

    Yes i know absolutely nothing like this will happen:
    [how about they put in place regulations to stop any use of PV that works],
    that is the situation.

    Pathetic no other word for it.

  5. Phil 4 years ago

    Using solar panels to charge EV’s will be MOSTLY limited by 4 factors.
    Apart from these options your pretty much reliant on the grid.
    And will the grid be affordable and reliable ?
    Compared to fossil fuels probably the same in Australia.

    The factors ……………

    1) Kilometers the EV travels per day / week and weekends

    2) Where the EV is parked MOSTLY and for how long (with current battery technology) when the sun is shining

    3) Availability of suitably positioned and unshaded roof area for your own personal solar panels

    4) Affordability of battery storage to time shift the Sun Shining period (or Off Peak on Grid period) from during the day to your EV through the night.

    The reality is OFF GRID charging of EV’s will not really be viable for MOST consumers unless they have the free standing housing AND battery storage becomes so cheap you can use one battery at home charging through the day to recharge the EV through the night. Or the kilometers travelled is low . Such as with a typical second family car.

    I also think many will not believe how large a solar panel array and/or battery bank is needed to recharge an EV that travels 300km’s in a day in a business use situation. 20kw of solar panels and 80kw of batteries would not be too unrealistic to get through winter and cloudy days.

    In Australia it costs up to 40 cents per Kwh including daily access fees for poles and wires and smart meters , so on Grid that is $32.00 a day to recharge the EV doing 300km a day. It should be less using off peak through the night , but if all are charging at the same time , off peak may become the NEW PEAK . Yet another way to charge more

    My 2.4 litre petrol Mitsubishi outlander 4WD uses 8.2 litres per 100km on average city and country running . Based on current fuel costs of an average of $1.20 per litre that’s $29.52 to travel 300km. This excludes any maintenance or Co2 emission benefits of an EV.

    Not as exciting a vehicle as a Tesla but you can see how the on grid costs are the killer for EV’s in Australia

    I believe company parked cars , second cars and airport parked cars are a huge opportunity for anytime off grid or daytime solar powered recharging however. Those horrible rooftop sunbaked and storm hail smashed parking spots become just as good as the ones lower down undercover when solar panels create a new rooftop !

    Off grid autonomy is ideally where it needs to go and if that happens it means companies like Origin Energy get no income . I am certain they will lobby to make it more difficult for people to off grid charge EV’s at all costs

    Otherwise today you can pay a lot more and get FREE tesla charging

    • Chris Baker 4 years ago

      Hi Phil,
      You’re doing some cherry picking in using the highest kwhr costs and comparing to current petrol costs. To be fair shouldn’t you use the same basis for costs comparison? I suggest a typical kwhr cost is more like 25c/kwhr and the energy required for a 300km trip would be more like 60 kwhr/300km, using the Leaf “fuel” economy. That would make it $15.00 electricity cost for a 300km trip. You mention offpeak rates should be cheaper – well they are, and so the real cost today is probably about half of this again, well south of $10. It may be that offpeak charges could increase in the future if night becomes the new peak, but it equally, petrol costs my go right back up again. I often see it quoted in reneweconomy that solar is now at grid parity and we know its heading downwards unrelentingly. So we know it’ll get better than what we have today. If you argued that the capital costs of an electric vehicle are not viable for most consumers then that would have some merit. But to suggest charging costs are too high doesn’t make any sense.

      • Phil 4 years ago

        The Leaf doesn’t have the load carrying capability of the Outlander which is about 700kg and quite long and large luggage loads and 1600kg towing.The Tesla S is a closer fit to my model

        Those energy costs are quite close to normal for Regional NSW 3 PHASE connectivity of $1.60 inc per day access inc gst per phase. 3 phase is mandatory for most consumers over 80 amps single phase = approx 20 kilowatts. Including the house and car loadings on grid 30 kilowatts plus is what they will rate your poles and wires feed at requiring 3 phase. So there is an additonal $3.20 per day whether you charge or not as you need 2 more phases . That’s not including any install of additional copper to your home or switchboard upgrades either

        Might be cheaper in Capital cities . I’m not sure . Why not respond with some actuals where you live ?

        Petrol costs should remain low for some time now as demand keeps dropping . Unfortunately the electricity prices keep rising beyond inflation

        • Chris Baker 4 years ago

          Hi Phil,
          I live in Samford, (Brisbane) and have a Click Energy account which charges 26.4c/kwhr peak and 14.8c offpeak. The Tesla S has a similar energy consumption and maybe would need a bit more, say 66 kwhr would be a reasonable equivalent for your 300km trip. 66kwhr at the offpeak rate would be $9.76. If we need to recharge 66kwhr overnight, say 6pm to 6am that would need a 6kw capacity for the service, which would be fine for single phase. Even at double this it would be ok according to your information. The average australian car travels 13800km per year, which is only 37 km per day. 300km days must be quite rare amongst Australian car users, and in our family I can think of only a few occasions when any car exceeded 300km/day this year. I guess most families, or households would have more than one vehicle and so it should be easy to have at least one electric car and never have any range anxiety.

          • Mike Dill 4 years ago

            My wife has the ‘range anxiety’ issue. We talked about it, and I suggested that we can rent a SUV for the annual vacation and the trip to see the relatives. The cost works out to be close to what I save by not buying petrol for the year.

          • Phil 4 years ago

            Chris check with your electrician on the electricity Demand if you go for an EV

            They base demand on the total load and then have a formula to determine the sub mains capacity – the cable size from the power lines on the street into your home.

            The provider will also have input on this and whether it’s single , dual or 3 phase depends on many factors but at the end of the day they need to balance the load across the 3 phases from the street

            It also gets back to your charger , Tesla require 3 phase for their fast charger
            A slow charger may not be suitable for many

            Based on origin Energy Qld standing offer pricing the daily supply charge ( per phase ) is $1.28 a day inc gst. So that extra $2.56 per day for your 2 phases on top of the house existing single phase ( assuming thats the case) equals another 8.5 cents per kw if you use 30kwh per day just for your EV. And that does not include the addition of sub mains costs , which are substantial and even more so if undergound.

            It all adds up i’m afraid. Yet another reason to go off grid with an EV if you can.

        • Steve 4 years ago

          Phil I drive my BMW i3 to work most days. It is a 40 km round trip.

          It is currently averaging about 12.5 kWH per 100 klms. In winter and peak summer it is about 15 KWH per 100 kms.

          Overnight charging is 12.5 cents per kWH or thereabouts. Electricity cost is thus $5 to$6 dollars for 300 klms. Or put another way 75 cents round trip for fuel (and $4.00 for tolls) on my commute. Access charges are irrelevant as I need grid access for the lights, tv and other conveniences of life. This car doesn’t have the range of a petrol car but as it is the second car for our family we have never needed the extra range.

          Fuel wise it is incredibly cheap and efficient. It is also the most zippy car I have ever driven, reverse parks itself and half drives itself in peak hour traffic.

          It works so well for me.

          • Phil 4 years ago

            Australia has not had electricity prices like that since about the year 1999

            26 Cents a Kwh the normal rate here , with perhaps closer to half that with off peak charging. But they charge you for the off peak connection with a daily supply cost for that meter as well as your house meter daily supply cost

            Some have smart meters and pay an additional smart meter rental of up to $250 per year. They also get charged up to 40 cents a kwh in peak periods . Quite normal in Victoria Australia.

            With fixed supply and meter charges like that , and consuming say 30kwh per day for house and car , it adds another 6-7 cents per kwh when added to the energy cost.

            My 100% off grid solar cost is 23 cents per Kwh to sustain it forever including financing and replacements. And it is infinitely scalable up to any size till i run out of room for solar panels at that price.

          • Steve 4 years ago


            With respect mate I know how much my electricity costs. I’m in Sydney with Origin.


            11.44 cents per kWH inclusive of GST. Daily access charge is 7 cents per day higher than a standard unmetered charge. I don’t pay a charge for my meter – it is the dumbest smart meter ever.

            So for me the cost of my commute is about 65 cents electricity. In addition I choose to pay for Green power, even though half my electricity use is after 10:00 pm at night so the coal would be burned if I used the electricity or not.

          • Phil 4 years ago

            Yes regional NSW pays a lot more than that. And they tell you Regional living is fabulous – so make the move !

            Sydney is not too bad at all.

            Here are the Essential Energy prices , click on link at end

            It’s a monopoly so there is no other choice – except for what i did , go 100% off grid for 23 cents per kwh with no access fees and it’s fully funded

            If you look at the daily supply charge it’s $1.44 a day , nearly double Sydney Metro , or CBD even

            I guess the distance means more costs for poles and wires

            We do more Km’s here , but we have more real estate so off Grid EV makes a lot more sense.

            FYI the controlled load ( nightime off peak ) is restricted to permanently wired in devices so i’m not sure if EV chargers are allowed . If they are it’s great value , but for how long.

            I have not seen this question fully answered – Do the electricity suppliers class an EV charger as a controlled tariff load ?

            You still have to pay the $1.44 per day for your household supply charge and any controlled fees on top of that

            That’s why i went off grid as that $1.44 buys me 6.26 kwh of off grid solar with 99.9999% uptime reliability . The Grid cant get near that in Regional NSW


    • Richard Mason 4 years ago

      Hi buy a phev outlander 8 l hwy 6 to 7 city
      ev mode 10 kWh range 40 km + or-
      3 liters 100k cost off peak
      using excess solar day time1 liter
      100 cost

      • Phil 4 years ago

        Great idea but unfortunately my minimum ICE round trips are 160km to 250km and then 900 – 1100kms , and sometimes towing 1000kg.

        EV’s not there yet for me due cost only – A Tesla model X would be just perfect.But i think they are $120k in Australia .And the extra battery weight with trips this long are an issue with Hybrids.

        I have an E Bike for my short trips

        • Steve 4 years ago

          Yep looks like EV’s work for some but not others at present.

  6. Mike Jubow 4 years ago

    I am not really up to date on the practicalities of electric cars, but with the distances I have to drive when I want to visit rellies or just go see some friends, I have to travel much more than 500 km. If I have to park up at that point for 6 or 8 hours and pay for a motel unit, I am not saving anything going electric. It seems that to recharge, there is a lump of time involved, but, if we used the flow batteries, wouldn’t we only need a filling station to drain the electrolyte and pump in charged electrolyte?

    That way, within less than half an hour we would be on the road again. Or is there a practical reason why this could not be done. What ever we do, it will have to be standardised and are solid batteries the only answer?

    • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

      I’m no expert myself but it seems the flow battery cathode, anode and electrolyte travel together. Almost seems like a job for battery swap out like Better Place.

      • Mike Jubow 4 years ago

        I don’t think that sounds right. How do you get the power out of the battery without a fixed cathode and anode electrode? I would have thought the electrodes would pick up the particular ion/anion they were suited to.

      • solarguy 4 years ago

        Just need to swap electrolyte.

      • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

        This RE piece discussed more but it appears all the comments including those about electrolyte charging were removed.

        • Giles 4 years ago

          Not sure what happened there. But those comments are now visible again.

      • Viv 4 years ago

        You do realise that BetterPlace went belly up leaving a whole lot of useless blue and light grey charging stations scattered across the globe.

    • Diego Matter 4 years ago

      Superchargers will get you back on the road in 30mins. Have a beer or savour a latte in that time and eat something!

    • Viv 4 years ago

      Or you could have an EV for your urban commuting (and quite likely for your performance driving when you want to go for a thrash) and you could take advantage of share car (eg GoGet) for the occasions that you need to visit the relatives in the country.

  7. rick 4 years ago

    Phil going off grid (solar) with battery back up is the answer, a system of at least 5KW to give the battery a full day to recharge in even on a poor solar day (overcast to heavy overcast) now it is possible have the system that is installed to be designed to fit the purpose, the design of any solar system is the most important part of any install with non interrupted sunlight. Yes all design items that need to be addressed to have any solar system operate at its maximum potential. Yes a good designer is needed not just something thrown up in the sun, Poor performance results and solar gets the blame for not working so if your solar is not performing then bad design is probably at fault along with cheap crap components. Price of solar gear can be very important so if you are buying solar gear check warranty, don’t just buy on price, country of origin design of the gear, company that manufactured it how long they have been in business do they a location, office where you can go to see the gear before you buy. Ask to see data sheets on all the gear you buy and compare these with other gear from other manufacturers of apparently similar gear. As the buyer be a fool I mean aware or was that wear. because you will be the one to wear bad gear. With little recourse as a lot of boggy dealers just disappear with your money. Many solar installers have gone bust and disappeared . I worked for a pyramid seller unknowingly until I saw he was taking peoples money doing a little work then disappearing. I was not impressed so I walked away from it.

  8. rick 4 years ago

    mike from what you are saying you need a hybrid vehicle (electric with petrol or diesel motor as a back up to the electric motor. Such as the Prius or similar vehicle take a wander around the internet and you can find alterative to your problem of a longer distance EV car it just takes a bit of looking and you might find it not all EV are short range like you think . Like the bus that drove from Sydney to Melbourne on one charge so just that proves your assumptions wrong.

    • Mike Jubow 4 years ago

      G’day Rick, no, I do not ‘need’ a hybrid. I was writing from the perspective of what we should do for the future. It is fine, mostly, to use a battery EV for the city people where there could be a charging point where they park their car at work or at home to get them to work or shopping the next day, but, not everyone has the same circumstance. Even those in the cities will occasionally want to drive more than the distance their batteries can take them.

      Those in regional centres, country people and commercial travellers of all kinds will need either a rapid charge point, battery exchange or something like a electrolyte exchange system that is something like refuelling your petrol or diesel vehicle.

      Another simple way is to use compressed or liquid hydrogen and have filling stations just as we presently have with liquid hydrocarbon fuels now. The point of my questions are, we have to have a standard refuelling system for the future. Whether it is hydrogen, battery exchange ( which seems clunky to me) or flow batteries where we only have to exchange the electrolyte, it needs to be common place in the future.

      If we buy a Li battery car and the standard becomes something else, we are immediately left with a “stranded asset” with no resale value. So, the question is, will we create a standard soon or go the way of Beta video recorders?

      • Mike Dill 4 years ago

        The filling station of the future is a supercharger.

      • wideEyedPupil 4 years ago

        Tesla has a bunch of patents on dual battery software for managing load and consumption and power source switching. Perhaps metal air batteries as range extenders to be only used on rare occasions is what they have in mind?

  9. Ian 4 years ago

    How much of Origin’s spruiking is genuine or just words remains to be seen but transportation is a fantastic new market for their product. $ 40 billion a year in fact, when you consider Australia’s liquid fuel bill. Why not recruit the electricity incumbants for the move to EV? If people like Origin were smart, they would be setting up charging stations all over and using their considerable lobbying force to get government to subsidise the uptake of electric vehicles. There are many other changes to electricity generation,storage and transmission that need to be introduced, but on EV, both sides of the energy divide can agree.

    There must be a %age premium of cost of an EV over an ICE in the small to midsized range that people would be prepared to pay. Picking a number from the air I would say 20 %. The Nissan Leaf is roughly the same size as a Nissan Pulsar which costs roughly $20000, so the leaf should not cost more than $24000. Perhaps Origin and other lobbying groups can help get EV, prices to that range, after all they are the Shoulder Angels that drive governments electricity policy.

    • Mike Dill 4 years ago

      Right now, the ‘engine’ (battery and motor) for an EV costs about 2x that of an ICE. I fully expect that difference to be ZERO by 2025. It will then make no sense to buy an ICE.

      • Robin_Harrison 4 years ago

        15 years ago 15ah of useful energy cost me $440 and needed replacing every 12-18 months. Now 15.5ah costs me $400, is a quarter of the weight and one battery I have is in its 4th year. With the massively increased use and R&D we’re seeing, that improvement rate will probably rise. Your 2025 forecast may be quite conservative. Hope so, everyone deserves to experience the EV grin.

      • Ian 4 years ago

        Hurry the day when EV competes directly with ICE, 2025 is too long for the climate to wait. Incentives may sweeten the deal for many people to get that EV grin (as Robin says). Our mates at Origin and the other electricity incumbents may be useful allies in lobbying government to initiate incentives, after all they stand to gain from the increased electricity sales.

        I might be going out on a limb here, but the promise of cheap batteries, as enticing as this is, may infact be suppressing other forms of energy storage and transport electrification. Pumped hydro and public transport, like high speed trains and metro systems are taking backstage to batteries on the energy catwalk.

        • Mike Dill 4 years ago

          Since pumped hydro is about ten times cheaper than Li-ion batteries, I cannot see where batteries will take any of the ‘share’ if there is a good site for the pumped hydro.
          I do see your point though, as efficiency is MUCH more cost effective than storage, but Insulation and sealing are not nearly as sexy.

          • Viv 4 years ago

            A bit hard to run your car on pumped hydro!

            What about the proposed Ammonia economy? Using surplus renewable electricity to produce hydrogen to then convert it to liquid ammonia for easy distribution. An ICE (with some modification) will burn ammonia for carbon free motoring.

          • Mike Dill 4 years ago

            Pumped hydro is just another format for energy storage. Like everything else in the way of energy, the output can be turned into electricity.

            I do like NH3 instead of H2, and there may well be good applications, but for most of my usage the batteries in my car will be enough.

          • Ian 4 years ago

            Hydrogen sulphide might be another choice, there would be the added advantage of having the whole road to yourself, no one else would want to come anywhere near your vehicle.

            Pumped storage hydro can be linked to high speed trains, light rail, metro systems , trams and other forms of public transport. These forms of transport do not need onboard storage they are linked to the grid using (generally) overhead wires.

            China and Japan have done exactly this, a network of high speed trains and metro systems. China has a huge hydro battery in the form of the 3 gorges dam, and they have, and are, adding tremendous amounts of solar and wind capacity.

          • Mike Dill 4 years ago

            Trains are already diesel-electric. Two or three rail freight cars full of charged storage would put a train most of the way across the continent. Swap the cars out and pick up another set while the first set is being charged.

            Not economic right now, but extremely possible in the near future.

  10. rick 4 years ago

    Mike a wander into the unknown is full of wrong turns it is the way any technology progresses 3 wrong turns 2 steps backward 1 step forward this the way we stumble into the final out come which is just 1 more step. Batteries still have a log way to go at the moment there are many competing types all have merits and are horses for courses. So I doubt you will see 1 absolute hero of a battery but probably 4 or 5 that become dominant in applications that vary in use. So when it come s to EV battery I’m not sure and more importantly still learning the fun part.

  11. rick 4 years ago

    Ian with electricity suppliers making a move into solar selling it and now making noises about EV, battery back up ,then they must be getting very scared sitting under all those flashing neon signs spelling doom to their empire where they have had no threats until the rise of solar and the renewable revolution that is running at them like a truck to run them over.

    • Mike Dill 4 years ago

      The issue is that solar and storage kills the peak pricing, which is where they make their money.

  12. Vincent Lopez 4 years ago

    I get the feeling that our government would like us to run our cars on coal instead of the sun.

    • Mike Dill 4 years ago

      Sad but true. Go Solar and beat the utilities.

  13. Petra Liverani 4 years ago

    I know it doesn’t drive very far but it’s still useful and cute …

  14. Phil 4 years ago

    Looking at the hard economics of On Grid Electricity recharging of EV’S the carbon cost is negligible yet renewable energy costs are very high in Australia.

    Lignite Coal used to produce 1,000 Kw of electricity would produce 1 Tonne of Co2. Some assumptions made on efficiency here. So lets add distribution and other losses and say it’s 1.5 Tonnes.

    My Source is

    The cost of sinking that Co2 produced as a carbon credit would be well under $10 Aus.So that’s an additional cost for an EV of just 1 cent per Kwh using the offset method

    And according to Origin Energy the 100% renewable option for power is an additional 5.61 cents per kwh inc gst using the renewable method. If your using off peak power to recharge your EV that’s a big increase in per kwh costs.

  15. rick 4 years ago

    Phil when the FIT ends 31.12.16 all electrical suppler will have to payout is $0.05 the same cost to them as what they pay for electricity from the manufacturers of electricity where it be coal hydro wind PV, so as you can see the cost of renewable power to supply Co will be next to nothing or the same as they pay for the normal stuff as they look at it. The current premium return I get now on my investment in solar PV will go thanks to all you cranky Liberals that carried on about it. But now what we all have to do is to go off grid solar ( take the load off the poor energy suppliers ) go battery back up use the grid as a back up for when there is a non solar period (heavy overcast) there will always be a need for the grid any way I have paid for it through my taxes all my working life as it was built with tax payer money so I have no qualms about using my resource as I see fit. The grid is just a highway for electricity to drive around on to get from here to there ( where they make it to where I use it) So do not feel bad about using it there will be a mad scramble at the end of the year as people try jump ship on this retailer or that. It will be a mess and take a while to sort out too. But renewables are the only future we have if we do not expect to be smothered by the buy products of coal oil burning.

    • Dispassionate 4 years ago

      The current premium return I get now on my investment in solar PV will go thanks to all you cranky Liberals that carried on about it.”

      Yeah how very unfair to not allow you continue to receive economic gain from others without reciprocating any benefits to society.

      Problems with a few of your thought processes there rick. The grid is not something that is paid for once and because that pole has been there for the last 15 years it must be all paid for. And if enough people go off grid what do you think will happen? They all come to their senses and reduce the prices?
      My guess is that at some point the governments of the day will either apply water type charges upon each site that the electricity runs past, so you get to pay either way. OR they will subsidise/payout the losses via the budget and we will get to pay indirectly through taxes, so we still get to pay for it.

  16. rick 4 years ago

    Naked chimp look if we are forever Negative then we may all just stay in bed pull the covers up over our heads and pretend that the rest of the world outside of your bed is not happening. this the problem with Australia that we have been told too many times we cant do it. Well I wont accept it get off your fat arse start thinking for your self and you can accomplish just about any bloody thing. So get your act together people any thing is achievable just have to give it a try and ask for help if you need it, know one knows every thing wish I did. yes that means every one.

    • wideEyedPupil 4 years ago

      it’s not that we are told we can do it. Countless technologies get invented here and then due to lack of government support across the valley of death and a shark like and parasitic venture capital scene compared to other countries technologies head overseas for commercialisation funding. The SolarPV technology used in most Chinese PV panels being the most notable example.

      At the same time John Howard was whinging on our national behalf that we aren’t like America in turning our strong science sector to entrepreneurship of consumer goods, his government was rejecting applications to help the PV tech across the valley of death so the “Sun King” took it to China and became an overnight billionaire. Oh well, Howard knows best I suppose.

      • Dispassionate 4 years ago

        Too much reliance upon government! The governments role should not be to be in the market and pick winners, it should be in the background doing the boring things that allow new tech etc get out there. As to where these tech get developed isn’t as big an issue.

  17. wideEyedPupil 4 years ago

    “This final step, which should be taken within a decade, creates the structure to deliver tougher future targets at low cost.

    Grattan argues that this represents a sensible compromise to the toxic politics that has dominated the climate change arena for the best part of a decade.”

    Well the climate in all its magnificence and wisdom does not negotiate with humans. If we do right by it, it bestows great treasures on us and all the other species and ecosystems. If we are bad, good parenting principles aside, we are harshly punished at some point in the future. Cause and effect. Logical consequences.

    Anything less that an ambition to reduce emissions within a decade is delusional, and as the highest per capita emitter historically and a very rich country*, Australia has an obligation and duty to be the first country to get to zero emissions, Potsdam Institute put the date of 2020 on it around fifteen years ago. Therefore our energy generation sector should be the first to get it’s emissions to zero, along with ag sector which can see very rapid transformative emissions reduction due to the fact that a large part of emissions are from methane and other shorter lived gases which are much more potent GHGs. Globally if anthropogenic methane emissions were halved. it would buy us the equivalent of 15 years of CO2 emissions from FF and so on at the current consumption rate to get the RE house built.

    * concentrated wealth of course in the hands of a few who are happily destroying civilisation with a time bomb set to go off later this century

  18. rick 4 years ago

    Wide eyed the thing with batteries is they can be put in parallel to increase the usefulness as per current drawn from it, this a matter of use that is required for then you make the control and supply suit the need. all in the design the most important part of any build, Solar , EV, etc all in the design. VERY important or it will not work as expected.

  19. rick 4 years ago

    Barry the biggest problem we have is a negative attitude to doing any thing, lose that attitude and anything is possible. so get out from under the covers of your bed and look at a way to do what ever you think is too hard, it might become able to become some thing positive.

  20. Axl D 4 years ago

    For innovative and disruptive thinking, we need to think of the EV in relation to other potential and actual trends – driverless cars, ultra-light cars, increasing ride-sharing, etc. Current EV’s and hybrids are designed to be not dissimilar from their ICE rivals – 5 adults and a boot inside a steel cage, typically used an hour a day by one or two people. But if you were to sit down to design from scratch a vehicle for a young, urban, car-sharing clientele, the product would be much different, especially for a driverless scenario – 1 or 2 adults in a carbon fibre cocoon (airbags have made the steel cage obsolete). The boot, in a driverless world, could be a separate vehicle used on an as needed basis. The owner will be a fleet manager, whose procurement criteria would be vastly different from the private purchaser – just look how current taxi companies favour hybrids today. And when they want to go off-track for one or two weekends per year, they would hire the appropriate vehicle for that time only.

    • Ian 4 years ago

      South Africa has used a type of vehicle sharing for many years, the minibus. These are driver owned often and numerous in number. They travel on many different routes and pick up and drop passengers constantly. The cost to the individual is minimal and the frequency of these ‘taxis ‘ passing any given place is such that waiting times are in the minutes, surely a transportation method to study and adapt to our cities.

      • Axl D 4 years ago

        And to think that system has been working well even without smartphones.

  21. rick 4 years ago

    Carl yes the irradance on a solar panel does dictate the out put but the early solar panels were only about 11-12 % now we are looking at 22-24% quite an increase. Now if we continue to improve solar panels and the associated MPPT controller then we can expect the out put to continue to rise. The solar panel has also grown in size Number of watts and the number of cells built into a panel. So once again technology improves there fore better output from larger panels. But make them too big and you have problems with handling to put up on a roof. yes they can be fitted to a vehicle but it takes a different type of panel different construction. Like what you see on the solar racers is a flexable panel bent to shape to fit the body of the solar car for aerodynamics of the car. Not a standard flat solar panel for the roof of your house. many different types and materials.

  22. john 4 years ago

    Without a doubt the huge wasted roof areas of every shopping center has to be used to both power the commercial area and the users of the center.
    Put panels all over both the center and the extensive car parking areas and put chargers there not hard to do.
    At the same time put in battery back up to meet the demand for the hours between 5 and 7 at least.
    Australia is blessed with great natural resources there is absolutely no reason not to utilize this other than myopic vision.
    The country is going to go to Electric Vehicles, because it has been shown that the country is one of the fastest to take up new Technology, so just watch the transition.

  23. rick 4 years ago

    Ian flexable solar is not that expensive as you state but it is not as efficient as flat panel solar, now many different types of solar panels are around and as with any thing you have to chose the right type to suit the purpose at hand. Solar panels are becoming more efficient and this will increase in time, as with any thing it is the will to do it that is the motivating factor . Now we just have to want it and if we all push in the right direction guess what it can happen. think those positive thoughts and only deal with positive people. Negative ones are not worth the air they breathe. Or time wasted to talk them around. So think for yourself and not the crap that poured on you at times.

    • Ian 4 years ago

      rick, why would you want a car covered in solar panels, just so that you can power the vehicle solely from its own panels? Is there even enough sunshine falling on a car’s surface such that 100% efficient panels can drive a tonne of vehicle up hills and at motorway speeds?

  24. rick 4 years ago

    Dispassionate Don’t know what was not answered let me know and I will try to answer it. It is always interesting to see what there people need to know.

  25. rick 4 years ago

    Dispassionate It is always the poor dumb taxpayer that pays in the end as it is an endless bucket of money spent by someone else. Now you need to look to how the electrical grid came about and yes it was built over many years with tax payer money yes my taxes, don’t think that it wasn’t, do you think it magically appeared. tax payers over many many decades look at the snowy mountains scheme and all the electricity grid cables that come out of it then all the coal powered power stations that grew up to provide for the increasing demand for power, look around the country and you will see a chain of Cables the grid , power plants coal fired and if you think us poor dumb tax payers did not pay taxes for it then you must be living on another planet. Recently the supply authority of all kinds have had massive investment in the grid and associated transmission gear and you know why it is, because it was allowed to be run down because ongoing maintenance was not do manly over the last 30 years, You know why it was because accountants were put in charge and they have no understanding of what maintaining a system, is what is needed and most importantly did not care. All they wanted was their bounus as they had saved money. False in the long run as every thing wears out. EG how far can you drive your car if you never lift the bonnet it goes for ever until it brakes down. NO further forward motion. they are type of fools in charge of all our services just look at the qualifications of those in charge. And you will be scared. that is why I preferred electricity is off grid self generated with battery back up yes it costs me but I am happy to look after myself. Now for all you who think that power authorities will be able to charge me just because their grid cables run past my house out in the street with no connection to my house have some thing to think about. NO way will I pay if I am not connected.

    • Dispassionate 4 years ago

      I didn’t say your taxes didn’t go into paying for the grid, I was saying the grid isn’t paid off once, by that I mean it is a continual process that will require continued input as you elude to in this post.
      As far as they can’t make you I am pretty sure I heard that sort of statement from people about water…and yet!
      If this style of cost recovery occurs you will pay, you won’t have a choice just like the rest of us, one way or another we will pay.

  26. rick 4 years ago

    Dispassionate the FIT figures were form Origin as I asked them that is what they will pay 1.1.17 ($0.05) and the cost to Origin of electricity ($0.05/KW) their price to buy. Now average world FIT was something I heard along time Ago not shore what the source was now sorry. It was some sort of comparison but too long ago now.

  27. rick 4 years ago

    Ian flexiable solar panels can be used to extend the range of a battery EV, at the moment people seem to be range scared ( how far a battery powered vehicle can go). Battery technology will improve this in the future and as EV mature the size type and scope of what they can do will get better .Low weight materials will help with range yes evolution of the EV

  28. Votey McVoteface 4 years ago

    Combine solar/electric car with this invention – Petrol based fuel cell for range extension & we could transition current declining car industry to a localised Hi Tech one that could export to sunny growth nations like South Africa, Brazil, India, Southern US.

Comments are closed.

Get up to 3 quotes from pre-vetted solar (and battery) installers.