An electric opportunity: state-government roundtables focus on EV development in Australia

26 July 2010

The Climate Group partnered with Ernst & Young and three Australian State Governments to hold a series of Electric Vehicle (EV) Roundtables this week, looking at accelerating the development and deployment of EVs in Australia.

The three roundtables, which took place in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide from the 19th to the 21st of July, were held in partnership with the Queensland, New South Wales and South Australian State Governments respectively. The events focused on the benefits and challenges that mass adoption of electric vehicles will present in Australia, and also looked at what the most successful paths for mass-adoption are likely to be.

The events brought State Government representatives together with selected stakeholders who will have a role to play in scaling up the EV market. These included energy market participants along the supply chain, car manufacturers, infrastructure providers, academics, entrepreneurs, local governments, consumer groups, financiers and fleet managers.

The closed door events featured in depth discussions on EV market development including projections of commercial and consumer uptake of EVs; the role of State Government and the private sector; how EVs will interact with the grid; and, the energy implications of a growing EV market. Robin Haycock, a transport specialist with Arup gave an international perspective on EV development, sharing his experience from two years working inside the UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

The Climate Group is holding a series of similar EV events worldwide, with sessions being held in the US, China, and Europe. The events form part of the wider activities of the EV20 Working Group, an international ‘coalition of the willing’, convened by The Climate Group, to rapidly advance the commercial deployment of EVs around the world. Both Queensland and South Australia announced their membership of the EV20 Working Group at The Climate Leaders Summit held alongside COP15 in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Rupert Posner, Australia Director of The Climate Group, co-chaired the events along with Ernst & Young’s Oceana Climate Change Leader, Lorraine Stephenson. He said “The development of a successful market for EVs in Australia will need a range of new commercial partnerships between the companies and sectors who haven’t necessarily worked together in the past. These events have provided an excellent forum for some early engagement, which we will build on as the EV20 program develops.”

In Australia, the EV market has recently seen a spike in attention with the launch of the Mitsubishi i-Miev, with state governments and fleet buyers among the first purchasers of the vehicles.

Australian State Governments are putting an increasing focus on EV technology. In Queensland, The Office of Climate Change recently published an issues paper for public discussion, "An Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Queensland" on key actions that Queensland will need to consider in preparing for EV technologies.  The Queensland Government is consulting on Roadmap actions to develop a comprehensive policy position on electric vehicles over the course of 2010.  The New South Wales Government has established the Electric Vehicle Taskforce to provide advice to the government on developing further EV policy.

The South Australian Government is currently funding electric vehicle research, supporting the demonstration of electric vehicles and recharging infrastructure, and developing its low emission vehicle policy with the assistance of the Premier's Climate Change Council. South Australian Premier Mike Rann, who attended the Adelaide event, spoke of the potential for EVs to reduce emissions, improve air quality and complement the state’s growing network of wind generation as part of a more advanced energy grid.

Global EV development has also received a significant boost through a series of recent announcements: In May the US House and Senate introduced bi-partisan legislation which, if adopted, would electrify half of US cars and trucks by 2030; EU ministers have called for a European standard for EVs and supported the European Commission’s recent strategy for clean and energy-efficient vehicles; China has also announced a new EV pilot program that is to run across five cities: Shanghai, Changchun, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Hefei, where subsidies of up to ¥60,000 ($8,783) will be available for EV buyers.

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