WA planning one of world’s longest continuous electric car networks under climate policy

Key points:

  • It is hoped the network will see an uptick in electric cars on WA roads
  • Labor also plans to buy a $100 million battery to help stabilise the power grid
  • But conservationists say the policies will not control carbon pollution

Western Australia plans to build one of the longest continuous electric vehicle networks in the world and has committed $100 million to a previously-mooted battery to stabilise the power network.

They are part of a suite of measures worth $300 million the WA Government has announced as part of its climate policy, with the “aspirational” aim of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

But the Conservation Council of WA said the policy failed the key test on cutting pollution, because it did not set legislated targets to reduce greenhouse gasses.

To encourage people to buy electric cars, the Government will spend $21 million building Australia’s longest electric vehicle fast-charging network.

“You’ll be able to drive from Esperance to Perth, out to Kalgoorlie if you want, or north to Kununurra,” Innovation and ICT Minister Dave Kelly said.

There are currently 1,500 electric vehicles in WA, equating to 1 per cent of all vehicles in the state.

“It is estimated that the cost of electric vehicles will actually meet the costs of conventional vehicles sometime in the next five to 10 years, so it’s actually very soon,” Mr Kelly said.

“But you’ve got to make sure the infrastructure is ready.”

The State Government has also committed to buying 25 per cent electric vehicles for the state fleet when possible, a move that will involve installing EV charging stations in government buildings.

Mega-battery to ‘stabilise’ grid

The Government has committed more than $100 million to a 100 megawatt battery in Kwinana, with the battery set to equal the size of 22 tennis courts.

It will be designed to store excess solar energy and stabilise the power network.

“It will ensure that for up to two hours up to 160,000 households can be powered if needed,” Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said.

A contract to build the battery is due to be awarded by May 2021, and the Government estimates the battery could be built and working by September 2022.

The climate strategy also includes $15 million for carbon farming to store carbon in the environment, and a total of $28 million towards a hydrogen fund and hydrogen projects.

Premier Mark McGowan said because hydrogen could be produced using sea water and solar energy, it could provide an endless source of renewable base load power, which countries like Japan and South Korea were very interested in.

“This will mean Western Australia can continue this development pathway to create potentially one of biggest industries in the world in coming years and make sure that we have base load power that is produced in a renewable way and is reliable at all times of the day and night,” he said.

Mr Dawson said he was confident WA did not need to legislate for net zero emissions because the Government was working well with industry, adding companies such as FMG and Woodside were already on board.

“They are on the same trajectory,” Mr Dawson said.

Critics say Paris Agreement ‘undermined’

The Conservation Council dismissed those claims by Mr Dawson, saying there was no plan to cut growing emissions from WA’s biggest polluters in the gas industry.

“WA is the only state in Australia with rising carbon pollution and this policy offers no concrete plan or targets to get this pollution under control,” the council’s director Piers Verstegen said.

“This undermines efforts under the Paris Agreement and could put the nail in the coffin even for Australia’s modest national emissions reduction targets.”

The Conservation Council welcomed the electric vehicle and hydrogen announcements but said they were very modest compared to other states.

It noted the New South Wales Government had announced a $32 billion plan for renewable energy and batteries.

“The policy released today must be built upon with much more work and detail before it can be considered a credible approach to this issue form our State Government,” Mr Verstegen said.

Extracted from ABC

Scroll to Top