ARENA tips $25 million funding package to drive EV uptake


Australian petroleum major Ampol is one of five companies set to share in a $24.55 million funding package after the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced on Friday it will partially fund the rollout of more than 400 privately operated electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging stations across the nation.

ARENA said the funding package, part of the Federal Government’s Future Fuels Fund, will catalyse a total investment value of $79.9 million and deliver a seven-fold increase in the number of fast-charging EV stations in Australia’s most populated cities and regions.

Charging stations will be built across eight geographic regions covering 14 of Australia’s most populous cities. In addition to networks in the capital cities in every state and territory, regional centres including Geelong, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Sunshine Coast will each receive a minimum of eight new fast-charging stations to drive the uptake of EVs in regional locations.

Australia has been slow to embrace EVs with data provided by industry body the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) revealing key barriers include vehicle prices, model availability, and the distance over which they can travel on a single charge.

The lack of access to charging stations is another major roadblock with more than 50% of motorists citing it as a key barrier to the adoption of EVs.

EVC chief executive Behyad Jafari has previously said establishing a comprehensive network of fast-charging stations will be critical to the uptake of EVs in Australia.

ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said the latest funding package will significantly expand Australia’s fast-charging network and remove barriers to the uptake of EVs.

“As the costs of electric vehicles come down, more consumers and fleet users are looking to go electric. Expanding the fast-charging network will make it easier than ever to drive an EV in Australia,” he said.

Ampol will install new EV chargers at 121 sites.

Image: Ampol

Ampol is one of five applicants to receive funding. Other successful applicants are Evie Networks, Engie, Chargefox, and Electric Highways Tasmania.

Together, the five applicants will deliver 403 new fast-charging stations, each capable of charging at least two vehicles concurrently at 50 kW or above.

Ampol received $7.05 million from ARENA in the first round of funding and managing director Matt Halliday said it will allow the petrol retailer to deliver fast-charging bays at 121 sites across its network. The rollout, to be co-funded with $7m from the oil company itself, will begin in the second half of 2021.

“Today’s announcement highlights the key role our existing network, skills and infrastructure will play in delivering EV charging to Australian consumers,” Halliday said.

“Ampol’s national retail network, along Australia’s major highways and close to existing high-traffic roads, closely matches our country’s population and is strategically located to help minimise range anxiety for EV users.

“We remain confident in our ability to evolve our retail network to support battery electric vehicle adoption.”

Evie Networks will install 158 chargers after securing $8.85 million in funding.

Image: Evie Networks

Evie Networks, which earlier this month announced a partnership with Puma Energy to rollout ultra-fast EV charging stations at selected truck stop locations in Queensland, will deliver 158 public fast-charging stations across eight regions after securing $8.85 million in funding.

The Australian arm of French renewables giant Engie will install 103 charging stations across four regions after receiving $6.85 million while Sydney-based Chargefox will deliver 16 EV charging stations after being allocated $1.4 million.

Electric Highways Tasmania was awarded $400,000 to install five charging stations in the island state.

The Future Fuels Fund is a $71.9 million initiative announced in the 2020-21 Federal Budget to remove barriers to the uptake of new vehicle technologies.

The initial allocation for round one of funding was $16.5 million, but Miller said it was increased to $24.55 million “based on the high merit of applicants”.

“The proposals we received were of such high quality, we were compelled to increase the funding,” he said.

“We’re delighted to be able to support more than 400 charging stations across the country.”


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