Coal power baron says electric vehicles an inevitability
Electric vehicle-driving, coal power baron Trevor St Baker is throwing millions of dollars into EV charging infrastructure, saying the private sector had to step in to push the industry forward.
The debate over the future of electric vehicles in Australia has become one of the main battlegrounds ahead of a federal election, as both sides of politics fight over the impact of electric vehicles on the country.
Coal power plant owner Trevor St Baker is backing a boom in electric vehicles, investing in charging infrastructure running from Adelaide to Cairns.
Federal Labor has pledged to make half of all new cars sold electric by 2030, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the target forced a shift to electric vehicles the public did not want.
Mr St Baker said EVs were inevitable and the private sector could take the lead if the government did not.
"It's not a question of uptake for electric vehicles, EVs are happening," Mr St Baker said.
Mr St Baker is the chairman of EV battery chargers Evie Networks and Tritium – which built half of Norway's public fast-chargers. He said he has driven an electric vehicle for eight years.
He is also one of the owners of the Vales Point coal-fired power station on Lake Macquarie, in NSW.
Mr St Baker said charging infrastructure is the linchpin for EV's growth.
"All people need is the infrastructure, if they see it at service stations or elsewhere, they'll take it up," he said.
"We've invested about $50 million in charging infrastructure from Adelaide to Cairns. We're taking a risk but we're investing on the basis there will be one million more EVs, and they all need infrastructure."
Building electric vehicle charging infrastructure has been listed as a priority for the Australian government but a lack of support at a federal level had hampered the sector's growth.
Infrastructure Australia called for a government-backed, country-wide roll out of electric vehicle fast chargers, while a recent Senate inquiry found Australia needed more regulations around charging infrastructure to support its development.
There are currently only around 1000 public EV fast-chargers; there are about 2000 EV fast-chargers in Norway alone.
On Tuesday, ultra-rapid EV charger maker Chargefox launched a new public fast-charger in Victoria.
“The new charging station is a significant milestone, enabling electric vehicle drivers to travel from Melbourne to Victoria’s high country, or to the NSW Riverina Murray region without any long charging stops,” Chargefox chief executive Marty Andrews said.
“We’re helping Australia transform from being a global laggard in transport innovation to having only the third ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging network in the world.”
It plans to build another 20 stations.
Service stations Caltex and BP have also begun investigating the potential of electric vehicle chargers at their petrol stations.
As most EVs would rely on connecting to the grid for power, grid operators are also laying the groundwork for integrating electric vehicles.
Energy Queensland is a key partner in Queensland's Electric Super Highway initiative, which aims to build electric vehicle charging stations from Far North Queensland down to the New South Wales border.
In Canberra, energy distribution network Evoenergy is working with the ACT government on its transition to zero emissions vehicles plan, which is part of the state’s wider aim to be carbon neutral by 2020.
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