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ARENA pledges heavy EV focus in fleets project

Light commercial vehicles in frame for charging infrastructure


The electric vehicles focus (EVs) of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is on lighter side presently but the agency assures ATN heavier commercial vehicles are on the agenda.

ARENA has provided $469,380 in funding to Evenergi to help businesses and consumers to make informed choices about EVs, and help electricity networks to plan for the potential impact of EVs.

ARENA announced funding for Australian EV services start-up Evenergi in February in a joint initiative called Charge Together.

With ARENA’s support, Evenergi has now launched an initiative aimed at vehicle fleets called the Charge Together Fleets program, developed in partnership with the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC). 

This includes a free online platform, BetterFleet, to assist businesses to develop a detailed business case for switching to EVs.

“Fleet managers will be able to develop procurement plans that include economic and environmental assessments of vehicles and charging infrastructure in minutes,” ARENA explains.

“Fleets make up more than half of all new vehicles sold annually in Australia and this platform will significantly reduce the time and cost required for fleets to make procurement decisions.”

More than 100 Australian fleets – including NRMA, Charles Sturt University and Ausgrid – have so far signed up to the Charge Together Fleets program.

Charge Together Fleets will also provide Australian organisations interested in transitioning to EVs with a knowledge base, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, a national procurement initiative, and a webinar series.

In acknowledging the light vehicle direction, an ARENA spokesperson insists that this will change.

“At the moment we are looking only at light commercial vehicles, however we are absolutely looking at heavy vehicles as part of the project,” the spokesperson tells ATN.
“We have a process right now of evaluating them as we will need to display them in the tool in a different way and people will have different and more bespoke needs.
“The ARENA funding, our own budget and that of the other partners have only partially been expended.

“The project continues until next February and the idea now is to gain feedback from users on the most important features to now incorporate – we have a long list already however this is certainly this is high on our list.

“As a business, we are also already doing a lot of this work for companies such as DHL and several local government agencies which is helping us collect this data also. 

Next year, Evenergi will launch an online platform and smartphone app for private consumers which will allow them to find the most suitable EV, arrange a test drive and set up home charging infrastructure.

Read how Daimler has handed over two eCascadias to US customers, here

Evenergi is also developing an Australia-wide planning tool for electricity distributors to plan for and manage the potential impact of EVs on the electricity system.

This forecasting framework aims to take into account current EV electricity capacity, network constraints, travel data, future charging infrastructure, local renewable generation, and capacity management options.

The planning tool will be launched in early 2020 with Ausgrid as the first user. It will enable energy networks to better plan for EVs on their network, ultimately improving grid reliability. 

“Charge Together Fleets is a free, practical way for fleet managers and businesses to make commercial decisions about the future of their fleet and how they can best transition to EVs with minimal impact on their operations,” ARENA CEO Darren Miller emphasises.

“Taken together, Evenergi’s online platforms will help businesses, consumers, and electricity networks make informed decisions about switching to electric vehicles and managing the potential impact,” he said. 

Last year, ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) published a report which predicted the uptake of EVs would increase significantly over the next decade.

The report said EVs would reach price parity with petrol cars by the early to mid-2020s when looking at upfront cost, and sooner than this on a total cost of ownership basis. A lack of fast charging infrastructure was identified as a barrier to the uptake of EVs.

ARENA has also committed $21 million in funding to Chargefox and Evie Networks, providing two ultra-rapid EV charging networks along major interstate highways around Australia.

“This is about offering Australian businesses, councils and organisations real choice. BetterFleet will reduce the cost of planning a migration by tens of thousands of dollars in many cases and managers should be able to clearly understand the options they have and proceed from that basis,” Evenergi CEO Dan Hilson says.

“On current projections, we anticipate this program will help deliver tens of thousands of EVs on to Australian roads over the next five years. In the future, it will also help businesses to acquire charging infrastructure.”

The $1.05 million project has also received support from the NSW and South Australian governments, Ausgrid, and NRMA.

More information can be found here.


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