Electric vehicle chargers will be tested on power poles

A local technology company won a grant to install 50 electric vehicle chargers on street power poles, overcoming one of the key obstacles to widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

The scheme is similar to others that have been implemented in Europe, the United States and Canada in the last three years. London has over 1,000 public streetlight chargers, ranging in capacity from 3kW to 50kW.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), created to fund investment in EV infrastructure, has awarded Intellihub $871,000 to install the 7.4kW chargers, which can add approximately 50km of charge every hour.

The company will install electric vehicle chargers on power poles in nine local government areas in New South Wales, directly connected to the overhead power supply.

The nine local councils participating in the scheme are Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick, Lake Macquarie, Ryde, Singleton, Parramatta, Northern Beaches and Inner West.

The charging posts will serve electric vehicle owners who live in apartments, townhouses and terraces that do not have off-street parking. It is estimated that one in four Australian households do not have off-street parking.

Access to home charging is seen as vital to EV adoption because studies abroad show that roughly 80 percent of owners prefer to charge at home. The remaining shoppers use fast chargers for work, malls, and highways.

Intellihub claims there is a potential for 190,000 chargers to be attached to power poles across the country. It is estimated that a street charger could serve up to 10 homes.

Origin Energy will supply green power for the chargers.

The test will also look at the ability of vehicles to absorb excess solar energy during the day, removing stress on the grid during peak hours.

They can also take electricity from vehicles and feed it back into the grid when needed.

If the trial is successful, Intellihub says it will look to release more chargers commercially.

Intellihub CEO Wes Ballantine said the new technology was an “affordable, safe and practical option” to accommodate the influx of new electric vehicles in the coming years.

“Up to 10 per cent of new car sales in Australia are expected to be electric vehicles by 2025. That equates to an additional 120,000 new electric vehicles on our local streets each year. Many of these car owners are likely unable to charge their electric vehicles from home,” he said.

“Power poles line most of our public streets and that presents an opportunity for the electric vehicle charging market,” he said.

As part of the trial, rechargers will be placed in a variety of locations, including streets with high-density housing, commercial areas, sports fields and hospitals.

It will likely be at least six months before the chargers are operational and the trial period will last 12-18 months after that.

During that period, different prices will be applied in an attempt to gauge public interest in the technology.

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