Senate warns Australia will be left behind in EV uptake


A Senate report has warned that Australia could be left behind the rest of the world because the federal government is not doing enough to boost EV uptake. The document puts forward 17 recommendations on how Australia can catch up with other nations and manage the risk of transition from combustion engines.

The recommendations from the Senate Committee on Electric Vehicles include a national EV strategy and targets, a 10-year EV manufacturing roadmap, a national EV target for government vehicle fleets, introducing regulations for battery charging infrastructure, more stringent vehicle emissions standards and bringing a Formula-E Championship race to Australia.

“The Government must abandon its Luddite approach to Australia’s inevitable transition from ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicles to EVs,” said Rex Patrick, South Australian independent Senator and member of the report’s committee.

“The world is embracing EVs and we must too. In relation to EVs it’s not a question of if, it’s simply one of when.”


The report also points to the important role played by on-site solar and batteries that could reduce demand on the grid, and raises questions about additional generating capacity and how EV owners can be incentivized to charge during off-peak periods.

“By 2030–31, AEMO estimates that consumers could have as much as 33,136 MW of solar PV and 4,969 MW of battery storage, as well as the battery capacity of their electric vehicles,” the report notes.

As a result, visibility of distributed energy resources will be crucial for AEMO to manage power system security. To address the issue, energy market policy makers have approved the establishment of a national register of small-scale distributed energy resources to give AEMO and distribution network businesses more data to help in planning and operating the power system as it transforms.

Battery manufacturing

The Senate report also underlines the national EV strategy could fuel Australia’s battery manufacturing industry and stimulate local supply chains. That opportunity has already been recognized by the federal government, which has launched a strategy seeking investment to unlock the nation’s potential in lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

The move came following a number of calls  for Australia to consider its downstream manufacturing capabilities, with the nation’s mineral reserves covering 90% of the elements required in li-ion battery chemistry.

The global case for EVs is getting stronger, as they are seen not only as a cleaner and cheaper means of transportation, but also as a source of battery storage that could step up the integration of intermittent renewables into grids.

Moreover, second-life EV batteries are offering up numerous business cases in the stationary storage arena.

With the right policy…

While Australia’s EV sales figures are weak – according to the latest available figures from the Electric Vehicle Council, Australians bought just 2,284 vehicles in 2017 – drivers are reportedly keen to make the switch, with government backing.

The results of a pool released by The Australia Institute earlier this week showed most Australians want the state and federal governments to implement policies that would encourage EVs adoption.

The pool – conducted among a sample of 1,449 – showed that 79% support the government building an EV charging infrastructure across the country, while 74% support rebates to promote installation of EV charging stations and 73% are for new apartment blocks to be required to host charging stations.

The majority of respondents also expressed support for governments to procure EV fleets (76%), and to provide loans for electric vehicle uptake (55%). Some 66% want the Luxury Car Tax removed from imported EVs.

“Our research makes it clear that Australians are keen for the government to encourage electric vehicle uptake through a range of policy measures,” Richie Merzian, the climate and energy director at The Australia Institute, said.

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