The COP26 climate summit produced consensus in one area: polluting internal combustion engine vehicles should be replaced as quickly as possible with environmentally friendly electric vehicles.
I have no problem with this – my Tesla has already given me more than two years of cheap, trouble-free motoring. And Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a policy to partner with industry to fund 50,000 EV charging stations in households, as part of his Future Fuels strategy.
Unfortunately, while electric vehicles (EVs) will reduce emissions in the long term, in the short term they increase them because manufacturing their batteries uses a lot of energy.
A mid-sized EV with a range of 135km produces about 15 per cent more emissions than an equivalent combustion engine car; a large EV with a 400km range produces almost 70 per cent more.
The next problem is generating the electricity to power EVs on our roads.
EVs are only zero emission if they are powered with electricity from renewables. In the meantime, our coal-fired power stations continue.
That’s the big picture; now let’s drill down a bit.
EVs have three major problems: they are expensive; they have a relatively short range; and Australia is short of high-speed charging stations.
Expense is likely to continue to be a problem, as governments fail to offer significant financial incentives for making the switch.
Range and shortage of high-speed charging stations are related issues. For city drivers sticking with short trips they are not a problem. You can charge your car from a power outlet at home.
The problem arises when you want to make longer trips. There are only about 3000 public charging points in Australia.
Not all EV chargers are equal. The one I have in my garage, which cost about $1500 and requires three-phase power, has a charge rate of about 100km per hour.
Public charging stations vary – the best I have encountered charged about 200km in an hour: if your vehicle has a top range of 400km, that’s a wait of at least two hours to continue your trip.
One overlooked issue is also how EV charging points will be supplied to people living in apartment complexes.
Chargers would have to be in the building’s car park; will special meters need to be installed to record power use? And when EVs are the norm, who will pay the cost in older buildings to have them installed?
It has the potential to impact apartment valuations. Buyers will look for EV facilities already in a building. If it doesn’t have it, would sellers have to discount the apartment price in expectation of future costs to bring the building up to speed?
Food for thought as we continue to pay record-high property prices.
Perhaps some of the government’s household charging stations funding could be used to support developers to solve some of these problems.
Extracted from The Sydney Morning Herald