In 2012, CitySmart and its partner ERM Power set up Brisbane’s first public electric vehicle (EV) charging station. Here’s a quick look at the current state of play for EV’s both locally and globally.

Global snapshot

The International Energy Agency’s Energy Efficiency Market Report 2016 found that electric vehicle sales globally jumped sharply in 2015, up 70% from 2014. There are now more than a million EVs on the road. It was estimated that EVs sold in 2015 saved more than 33 million barrels of oil consumption over their lifetimes, although this is still a small portion of current oil demand (0.01%).

The report named China as the largest EV market in 2015, with more sales than the United States for the first time. The largest EV shares in the total vehicle stock are in Norway (23%) and the Netherlands (10%).

Electric vehicle sales globally jumped sharply in 2015, up 70% from 2014.

King George Square charging station

The King George Square free EV charging station in Brisbane’s CBD was established in 2012 line with Brisbane City Council’s commitment to achieving a clean, green city as part of its 2026 Living in Brisbane Vision. Drivers can park at King George Square parking station for half price and then charge their vehicles for free with 100% Green Power renewable electricity provided by CitySmart partner ERM Power.

The station has seen a steady increase in usage since its launch.

“Over the last 4 years, the number of recharges has grown by 75% on average every year,” says CitySmart CEO Neil Horrocks “We’re currently seeing four new users a month utilising the facility. The charging station now forms part of a wider refuelling network of charging stations around the Brisbane area”.

At March 2016, 3487 highway-capable plug-in electric cars were registered in Australia according to Wikipedia. More recent data from Queensland Transport (February 2017) shows a total of 325 pure electric passenger cars are currently registered in Queensland, a figure that does not include the many registered hybrid cars which are “plugin hybrid” models.

Brisbane City Council’s free EV charging station in the Brisbane CBD.

Next stop: regional Queensland

Among the barriers to further uptake of EV’s is the length of time a vehicle can last in between charges, particularly outside the cities. For urban drivers it’s relatively simple to charge at home or at work without worrying about running out of power. Longer distance driving is a different matter.

With this challenge in mind, Ergon Energy (now Energy Queensland) has recently mapped a network for a planned installation of superfast EV charging stations from Toowoomba to Cairns. The first of these stations was launched in Noosa in August 2016, installed by the Brisbane-based electrical engineering company Tritium. The new generation superfast chargers can fully charge an electric car such as a Tesla in 20 to 30 minutes with enough power to drive 250 kilometres.

Tritium director Paul Sernia told the Brisbane Times he believes a suitable grid of super-fast electric car chargers will quickly be put in place in south-east Queensland. “I think within three to five years will you have significant infrastructure in place,” he said.

Tritium brings global expertise to the project, having already installed EV charging stations around the world in countries like Norway, Switzerland and Germany.

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