EV Chargers Across Australia in 12 Years - an exercise in wishful thinking

Discussion about EV/Battery charging infrastructure, Electric highways etc.
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philupandgo
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EV Chargers Across Australia in 12 Years - an exercise in wishful thinking

Post by philupandgo »

Consumer interest in EVs is rising quickly and available options are pressing more people’s buttons. In Australia, some percentage of car buyers appear to be holding on to older cars in the hope of cheaper and more practical EVs becoming available.

For prospective EV buyers the initial cost is only half of their concern. There is also driving range. We are told by EV owners, that range anxiety is for those who don’t have one; that such fears subside as we transition into a new groove of the road tripping lifestyle. As a week old owner of a soon-to-be average range EV, I certainly hope that will be true. There are already enough interstate charging options to take me anywhere I need to go, with family from Adelaide to Brisbane.

(Tl;dr, links to the maps are at the end)

But there are other places I haven’t been to yet; Cape York, Darwin and much of the south west. Others have already done the big tour, all the way around Australia, in an EV; but it remains a daunting undertaking, depending on the friendliness of locals. And what about all the in-between places, and the remote places. If Australia is transitioning away from ICE to EV and maybe fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) how are all the people who live in remote places going to fare. Tankers currently deliver diesel and petrol to remote places. Maybe one day hydrogen FCEV propulsion will mature enough to support a similar infrastructure. But the rush is not in that direction. Battery EV may well see out ICE well before FCEV can take over, much to the chagrin of Toyota, Hyundai and others who are investing heavily in that technology. There is potential for oil based fuel to become too expensive for the outback before it is possible to drive an EV that far.

Fortunately, the charging infrastructure roll out is underway and at an increasing pace, as recently posted here by @Chuq. Corporate investment, ideological sponsorship, and government assistance is changing the landscape rapidly, much as it did a hundred years ago during the previous road transportation revolution. This is great news. In 2019, 44 new fast charging sites were constructed, about 30 of which were in entirely new places, extending the national reach of EVs. In 2020 there might be 60-70 new sites with possibly another 30 of them being in new places.

Another good fortune is standardisation. CCS2 seems to be the new standard type of charger (until something else comes along). Tesla was out the gate early with a fast and broadish network of chargers based around a modified Type 2 design, with all other EV manufacturers quick to ignore it at risk of paying royalties to a competitor. There are now a few companies rolling out high performance CCS2; including Tesla.

50kw seems to be the new minimum acceptable capability for mid-trip charging, with up to 350kw expected to become common. With the exception of NRMA, each company is largely building out the same locations already supported by others. Competition is great where there is a large market; capital cities and the south-east coast. But beyond those places there are communities that will be less well served unless they happen to line up with where city slickers want to go, such as the string of chargers up the Queensland coast to Cairns.

Brass Tacks

I made a map. Actually, Google made the map. I just identified places to put charging infrastructure. Obviously it is not practical at this stage to identify all the places that need a charger. The map instead identifies all the places where city slickers want to go and how many chargers would be needed to get there. This represents the greater benefit, bringing the EV to the most people who collectively travel the most kilometres. And from this backbone, remote communities can be served with perhaps simpler infrastructure.

Remote communities are the people who individually travel the longest distances, but incur the smallest environmental impact in doing so. As usual the greater benefit out-weighs the greater need. It is reasonable then for the more populace regions to help install infrastructure further afield. There would be little point in supporting this transition if we forever have to hang on to an ICE vehicle to go camping, or to service a pump on the other side of a cattle station.

The map shows a 12 year time-line (my previous map required 20 years, but the roll-out is happening faster than expected) to fill out all the major routes across Australia; almost all the orange roads on a Google map plus a good few tracks that remain unmarked until zoomed in but which also lead to iconic places. The map follows the greater benefit to the most people but forms a network from which the greater need can be addressed.

Assumptions had to be made that might prove unnecessary in reality. The EV clubs generally agree that chargers are needed every 300km. Most new EVs are expected to cater to such range. Even now however, this density is being surpassed, but away from fertile regions there is less natural incentive. As battery technology improves, it is more likely that vehicle range will actually stay much the same so that cars can instead become cheaper. So 300km intervals.

Not all roads are created equal. Google kindly estimates travel time for any plotted route. An assumption was made that intervals should be reduced where travel time is longer. If 300km can normally be travelled in three hours then a road that takes as long to travel a third as far might be three times as difficult for the vehicle. Probably not, so I relented a bit. People more knowledgeable can advise. Intervals are also limited to travel times of about 3 hours 45 minutes (3:45). There may be a couple of outliers in either distance or time, but not by much.

The map includes locations that in 2019 do not support all EVs. Click on a location to see the type of chargers available. Expect competitors to support the same or a nearby location in short order; or do some research on the potential for buying an adapter. If a particular charger location is known by a different region name then that is stated in brackets for that company. In a previous verson of this article i matched nearby locations to places that fitted my 300km spacing. Now the map shows all towns where a charger actually exists, though not accurate to the street.

The first few years to now are found in the first tab and includes all the charger locations already available (Shown with blue markers). The second tab shows locations that are currently planned by one or other organisation. Locations that are not announced but which I thought should be built next show up in the later tabs (grey markers). While many more chargers will be built, each year notes about 30 new locations across the country. If this pace does not hold true, the suggested roll-out will be adjusted accordingly.

When clicking on a location, a field called Comment may be included in the pop-up window. For the first few years this identifies the announced chargers that are or will be built nearby. In later years, it states the likely build difficulty; <nothing> (easyish), Limited infrastructure (harder to build), ZERO infrastructure (difficult to build and visit). The last few of the 12 years reduce the roll-out pace simply because every program has to have a wind down plan. But the reality is that roll-out never ends; rather it evolves. At some point FCEV infrastructure will also roll out.

The Perth to Esperance Electric Highway project (as reported on TheDriven.io), which anticipates 200km spacing of charger sites will be incorporated when planned sites and timelines become clearer. Be sure to add your support to this worthwhile consumer initiated project by visiting Chuffed.org.

The URL field exists because Google needs to associate locations with something in their database. This might have been chosen because of better pictures or in remote places it might just be the closest thing, Occasionally the one URL was used for two or three marked locations. The Lat, Long field is where the marker was really placed, again this might have been chosen for the sake of pictures (if you ask Google to take you there). In some cases a location was chosen because of available infrastructure, but in others it was chosen to reduce the number of sites along a route. But over time all viable locations will gain their own charging capability.

Google only allows a time-line to be shown in nine steps so to fit 12 years (plus the 20teens) required the time-line to be split in half. The first link shows annual increments from now to 2026, and the second shows the remaining years through 2031. After the first of these maps Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales list no new sites, but again the reality will be different. And all states and territories are interconnected except WA to NT. The description at the top of these two maps includes a link to the following map. The third map instead shows all locations colour coded by build difficulty. Build difficulty is almost moot given that solar farms are already being included with some existing sites even with ready access to electricity.

Teenies-2026

2026-2031

Build Difficulty

December 2019 - Original publication
January 2020 - Adapted to acknowledge all actual town locations for existing chargers rather than sticking to the original 300km grid locations that may not be supported. In particular, this now explicitly lists all of the RACWA locations. Also provided links to the Perth to Esperance project. Maps also updated with recent additions.
April 2020 - Adapted maps to merge all existing locations on one tab and all planned locations on the next. Maps continue to be updated regularly to remain current.
This document and the maps will continue to evolve.
Last edited by philupandgo on Fri, 17 Apr 2020, 19:20, edited 3 times in total.

philupandgo
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Re: EV Chargers Across Australia in 12 Years - an exercise in wishful thinking

Post by philupandgo »

This article and maps have been adapted to acknowledge all actual town locations for existing chargers rather than sticking to the original 300km grid locations that now may not be supported. In particular, it now explicitly lists all of the RACWA locations. Also provided links to the Perth to Esperance project. Maps also updated with recent additions. This document and the maps will continue to evolve as reality takes hold. Changed text is in green so don't bother reading it all a second time.

Will
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Re: EV Chargers Across Australia in 12 Years - an exercise in wishful thinking

Post by Will »

It's a step in the right direction and totally doable in 12 years if they don't plan on putting them dotted all over the outback.

All they will be doing is installing most of them in places where the infrastructure is already there in place and in some locations where they can easily run the electric cables from the existing powerlines across short distances to add more.

philupandgo
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Re: EV Chargers Across Australia in 12 Years - an exercise in wishful thinking

Post by philupandgo »

Will, i agree that EVs will play a lesser role in the outback. It is more likely to be supported by hydrogen, given that Australia in particular is gearing up to play a big role in the hydrogen economy. We already have our first ship to transport the stuff to Japan.

Seeing you commented (which will cause everyone to curiously click on the post again), i took the opportunity to update the document (the green bits). Maps no longer reference past years, although all the pins for existing charger locations do.

I am pondering adjusting spacings to account for population density given that that is already happening along major highways and also considering availability of extra long range off-road vehicles such as the Rivian R1T and Tesla Cybertruck that will likely dominate many outback routes. Oddly, this may make my map a bit more like that produced by Michael Fink.

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