ARENA announces $16.5M for electric vehicle fast charging infrastructure

    The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced today that new funding will be available to support electric vehicle charging projects.

    The first tranche of funding from the $71.9 million Future Fuels Fund is worth $16.5 million and will be focused on public fast charging projects that expand the network and reduce black spots. ARENA defines fast charging stations as being publicly accessible and able to charge at a rate of 50kW or above.

    The funding will be targeted to capital cities, as well as large regional centres including Newcastle, Wollongong, the NSW Central Coast, Geelong, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

    ARENA is running an information session for potential applicants on Feb 23rd.

    Applicants are being encouraged to maximise the coverage of their charging stations across the geographic areas. In building out charging infrastructure it would be inviting to build fewer locations, however this priotisation on distribution means we’re likely to see 2 chargers at site, rather than a bank of 6.

    While it’s not clear how many chargers or charging locations could be supported with $16.5 Million, fast chargers plus the required charging infrastructure, grid connections, approvals etc doesn’t come cheap, at tens of thousands of dollars each.

    Once the chargers are in, commercial operators can decide what or if to charge. On average, EV owners typically pay somewhere between 30-40c per kWh, with a typical 20-80% charge adding hundreds of km of range, for around $20.

    Additional funding rounds will be launched in future to support business fleets to transition to BEVs and explore opportunities with hydrogen and biofuels.

    Personally I’m not sure why we continue to pursue this strategy, electric vehicles, supplied by green energy sources is a winning combination. Large vehicles like buses and trucks are also turning electric, leaving little room for a competing fuel source like hydrogen.

    It is great to see the Government finally acknowledge the availability of charging infrastructure close to work, home and holiday destinations is a key barrier to EV uptake for the public and fleets.

    Applications for EV fast charging grants are open now and will close on Tuesday 6 April 2021.

    The funding was allocated as part of the 20/21 Federal Budget, with Minister for Energy and Emission Reduction Angus Taylor announcing the Future Fuels Package in September as part of the Australian Government’s First Low Emissions Technology Statement.

    In early February, Minster Taylor released the Future Fuel Strategy: Discussion Paper outlining the Government’s vision to “empower consumer choice, stimulate industry development and reduce emissions in the road transport sector”.

    “Through this initial round, we are addressing one of the barriers to roll out of new vehicle technologies by significantly increasing the number of fast charging stations available to consumers across Australia, and reducing charging blackspots in both metropolitan and larger regional centres.

    This funding by the Australian Government will stimulate the fast charging market and drive private sector investment, and will build on our considerable body of work in this sector,”

    ARENA CEO Darren Miller

    ARENA has already provided $29.7 million in support for BEV charging projects, including the Chargefox and Evie ultra fast intercity charging networks.

    ARENA funding is also supporting managed and smart charging trials run by ActewAGLAGLJemena, and Origin, as well as JOLT Charge’s roll out of free public charging stations in Adelaide.

    EV Adoption in Australia

    Recent industry research found that Australian EV sales grew by 200% in 2020, but still accounted for just 0.6% of all new car sales.

    The research also found that 56% of those surveyed would consider buying an EV for their next car and 82 per cent identified publicly accessible fast charging as important.

    For more information head to ARENA.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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