By Florian Popp
Western Australia turned up in droves to join the global transition to electric transport on November 4th at the second annual “iDriveWA: Towards Zero Emissions Conference and Exhibition” at the Driver Risk Management center near the Perth Airport in Western Australia.
Western Australia (WA) may have a reputation for being a bit sluggish when it comes to getting on board with the EV transition, but this perception is far from reality.
Yes, WA’s isolation, huge road and electricity networks, large-scale resources and agricultural sectors, and off-road culture present real challenges. But WA boasts the first electric fast charging highway in the country, built in 2015 by the RAC. It has amongst the highest rooftop solar penetration in the world. And is about to build the longest EV fast-charging network in the country, reaching from Esperance in the state’s south to Kununurra in the north, a staggering distance of around 4000 km (2485 miles). To put that in comparison, that would get you from London to Iraq or east to west across the continental USA.
The Western Australian government sponsored the event, building on many initiatives such as Horizon Power’s world-leading microgrid trials, Western Power’s rollout of standalone power systems, and Synergy’s big battery, to ensure WA transitions smoothly to renewable energy, to power the accelerating electrification of transport sustainability.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Business Events Perth, West Australian Local Government Association, and industry associations AFMA, MTAWA, and NECA joined industry exhibitors and vehicle suppliers to help educate hundreds of visitors about critical topics such as industry training and education, finance, fleet management, net zero planning, and of course, the cars and supporting energy systems.
Over 1200 attendees registered for this year’s event, and more than 500 individual test drives were taken by visitors, in a wide range of electric cars, bikes, scooters, and even some Mine Spec 4×4’s and Mini Buses. Some were lucky enough to get joy rides in the TOCEVA Racing world-first Targa Class–winning Tesla Model 3 Performance.
The conference itself was a melting pot of thought leadership, including presentations from the Electric Vehicle Council of Australia, Caterpillar, Volvo, ABB, and state and federal government presenters. It featured a live cross to Scotland’s COP26 Australia Pavilion by local energy business Hydrogen West.
Councilor Dan Bull from Bayswater, WA’s first council to secure a 100% renewable energy Power Purchasing Agreement with electricity retailer Synergy, participated in “A Conversation With Dundee,” which aims to be Europe’s leading city in the electric vehicle transition.
Capped with a personal presentation by Fully Charged’s Robert Llewellyn (the world’s most viewed online electric vehicle show), to inspire WA to continue to build the momentum, the iDriveWA: Towards Zero Emissions Expo looks set to grow along with demand for electric vehicles over the coming years. It’s possible interest in electric vehicles may one day be as strong as the popular 4WD & Adventure show, particularly as we see more brands and vehicles coming to Australia on the back of net zero commitments and despite torturously slow federal policy, recently ridiculed internationally for comments such as “EVs will ruin the weekend.”
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