Fast Charging Installations — Ampol Is Learning

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Ampol in Australia is committed to improving fast charging services for electric vehicles at over 120 of its service stations over the next twelve months. One of these chargers is just a couple of kilometres from my home. I have visited it, but not used it, as I charge at home. The aim of the ARENA co-funded program is to address “blackspots” where chargers are scarce. As the report notes, EV charging is in its infancy down under, and so there are many of these.

So far, 5 have been installed and Ampol is now reflecting on lessons learnt from the experience.

Powering fast charging
Plenty of solar on the roof at AMPOL Carseldine Qld. Photo courtesy of Springers.

As the chargers are being co-funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), Ampol has had to follow guidelines written by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries in 2017. What a difference 5 years make in the EV world. In 2017, there were many Nissan LEAFs on the road in Australia and not many Teslas (just a sprinkling of S and X vehicles). So, to be fair, guidelines were written that mandated each high-speed charger would have two plugs, one for CHAdeMO and one for CCS.

Thankfully, other government-funded programs are not so prescriptive. Ampol wants to support EV adoption (and a healthy profit from better use of its assets) and so is seeking to increase the availability of CCS charging. Perhaps there will be a market for adapters?

Fast forward to 2022 and the age of the Model 3 and Model Y and what do we find? Most of the EVs on the road are Teslas and others that need CCS. The report finds that the 5 chargers installed so far are being used twice as much as expected. Their predictions obviously did not expect the rapid rise of EV sales. But one side of the charger is being underused — guess which one. Less than 5% of charges have been through CHAdeMO. Ampol have an under-utilised asset.

However, the chargers need to be used 5 times more than they currently are for them to be profitable. Thus, government support is still needed for the rollout.

Ampol highlights the difficulties of installing electrical infrastructure around the hazards of a petrol station — issues like trenching, available power supply, and maintaining services to fossil fuel vehicles during construction. They state that it is difficult to “forecast capital expenditure” for installation, with some sites requiring significant augmentation. I guess you don’t know till you know you don’t know.

Hopefully, the next 120 installations will be easier.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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