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Olympic Games Supercharge Tactical Plan For EV Uptake In Australia

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Brisbane, Queensland, has won the bid for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic games. These games are the first required to be “climate positive.” In their latest Network Electric Vehicles Tactical Plan, Energex, which operates the electricity distribution network in and around Brisbane, and Ergon Energy Network, which operates the network in regional Queensland, detail their plan to “guide and enable our customers’ EV charging priorities related to affordability, convenience, safety, the environment and other factors.” The full plan can be downloaded here.

I have written previously about the need to protect the grid when you charge your EV. This article is an update. Please be aware that I am not an electrician. I am simply seeking to make our readers more aware of the nuances around the transition from ICE to electric. This article will contain some editorial content.

The plan points out the rapid growth in EV uptake: “Since June 2020, the number of EVs (including electric motorcycles, plug-in hybrid and battery passenger cars and trucks, and electric buses) in Queensland has increased from around 3,900 to more than 23,000 in April 2023. Passenger EVs took a 4.7% market share of new passenger car registrations in Queensland across the 2022 calendar year. Globally, ‘electric cars’ achieved a sales market share of almost 13% in the same period.”

The reasons for not buying an EV have shifted from price and charging availability to supply issues. Demand is high. “Research with aspiring EV buyers and people more generally, including our own Queensland Household Energy Survey, revealed that the appetite to consider buying an EV is increasing notably.”

Energex and Ergon Network predict that the number of EVs on Queensland roads will almost double over the 12 months covered by the plan to almost 50,000 by March 2024. This will be aided by the Queensland government rebate of AU$6000 per vehicle, generous stamp duty concessions, and registration discounts. The Queensland government has set a target of 50% of new passenger vehicle sales being zero-emission vehicles by 2030, rising to 100% by 2036.

Tactical Plan

Source: Ergon Energy Network and Energex “Network Electric Vehicles Tactical Plan,” page 6, published May 2023.

Energex and Ergon Network’s Network Electric Vehicles Tactical Plan lists 13 target activities. From the original tactical plan published in October 2020, three tactics have been completed: the EV Data Repository, the EV SmartCharge Queensland program, and EV Customer Experience Journey Mapping. Six new ones have been added.

I will attempt to introduce our readers to the tactics which I find most relevant. I am not addressing all of the tactics. Though, I appreciate the way these tactics were justified and explained.

Tactic 1: Implement mechanisms to identify EV charging clusters and analyse charging profiles

“Why? There is no legislation to compel a customer, or their agent, to lodge an application for an EV charger — or EV Supply Equipment (EVSE) — installation with their Distributed Network Service Provider. Clusters of EVs could remain invisible to us until a distribution transformer fails or quality of supply issues arise due to EV charging. Analysis of the demand and other impacts of EV clusters on individual transformers will inform many teams in our business.” Data on charging clusters and patterns can be used to forecast future demand.

Tactic 2: Enhance network monitoring in areas of high EV penetration and integrate insights into strategic network planning

“Why? Coincident EV charging will at some stage and in some areas create adverse network impacts. It is important that we proactively establish EV-related network demand, voltage and other monitoring to detect those impacts and inform proactive responses before expensive network upgrades are required.

“As the timing of EV charging is more flexible, if we identify areas of high EV penetration early, we can take steps to mitigate the need for network upgrades. Identify if a transformer monitor is installed on those transformers with highest EV penetrations, and if not, prioritise monitor installations. Monitors record the impact EV charging and other loads are having on the local network.”

Monitoring and analysis of the transformer load will indicate the need “to shift EV-related demand out of peak demand periods and ideally into minimum demand periods,” thus avoiding peak time overload and costly grid upgrades.

Tactic 4: Explore and articulate the challenges of EV charging in fringe-of-grid and isolated communities

“Why? The charging of EVs, including heavy transport, present specific challenges to fringe-of-grid and isolated networks due to those networks’ inherent electrical limitations.” Queensland is a state of almost 2 million square km, with many rural communities that are not on the densely populated coastline.

At present, “[t]here are limited numbers of EVs registered or charging in Ergon Energy Network’s 33 isolated communities and fringe-of-grid communities. The temporary or permanent addition of even small numbers of EVs could impact these types of networks.”

Tactic 5: Evolve public charging station network connection processes

“Why? Public charging station developers’ expectations and regulated DNSP connection processes may not always align, creating frustration and longer-than-expected timeframes for those customers.”

Tactic 6: Understand and respond to the charging needs of EV customer groups

Energex and Ergon Network would like to learn more about charging habits of EV drivers “to better inform our efforts to influence charging away from the traditional peak periods and into the middle of the day… While not all charging will be ‘smart’ in the foreseeable future, without a suitable degree of smart charging, it will be more difficult to influence EV owners to charge outside peak periods, especially at times of critical peak demand.”

Tactic 8: Support the electrification of fleets, from motorcycles to buses

Energex and Ergon Network plan to advise fleet operators who wish to start “their transition to electrified transport about the network connection requirements, timeframes and other issues that could influence the nature of their new connection.”

Tactic 12: Support existing and future network tariffs relevant to EV owners

“Many aspiring and current EV owners are under-informed about tariff options, as a critical element of the home charging arrangement. Business customers and Charge Point Operators are also often under-informed about network tariffs and network connection processes.”

Tactic 13: Engage with EV salespeople, EVSE installers and owners about EV charging options.

“Why? Many new EV owners, and salespeople, are generally poorly informed about charging options and network connection aspects. EV salespeople and EVSE installers can have significant influence on home and other EV charging arrangement decisions at times when aspiring and current EV buyers are most receptive.”

I have mused about who would educate the general public about EVs. Carmakers, even those that are selling EVs on our TV screens, don’t seem to be willing. In that some buyers’ first contact with the EV sales process will be a car dealer, I commend Energex and Ergon Network for taking this initiative.

Energex and Ergon Network’s tactical plan sees the transition to electric vehicles as inevitable. The main discussion points seem to be when we will reach nearly 100% (like Norway) and what impact that will have on our electricity supply chain. Although I expect that 2027 will be the year that EVs dominate the global market, there will be many ICE vehicles on the road for the next two decades.

Energex and Ergon Network conclude: “The key purpose of this plan is to articulate and integrate our highest-priority, no-regret actions over the next one to two years to ensure we have a structured and agreed path to prepare for the impact, and opportunities, of EV charging.” ‘Nuff said.

Featured image created by DALL·E

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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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