Driving towards greener roads with electric cars

Australia has the highest rate of solar uptake globally. Why then, when it comes to electric vehicles, are we lagging?

Energy
8 min read
In the early 2000s an energy revolution sparked to life with thousands of Australians installing solar panels. Will the same happen for electric cars?

In Australia, there is certainly no lack of interest when it comes to greener energy options. As of 31 January 2022, we have the highest uptake of solar globally, with 30%, or over three million, Aussie homes with solar panels installed. So why are we lagging when it comes to making the switch to electric vehicles (EVs)? 

In 2021, just 1.6% of cars sold in Australia were electric. For comparison, in the same year, electric vehicles made up 65% of Norway’s car saleswhich is leading the world in EV adoption.  

Given our solar uptake, there’s an opportunity for EVs to be integrated into the future Aussie smart home. The question is, how do we make it happen? 

What’s pumping the brakes on EV uptake? 

Electric cars boast a range of benefits for Aussies. When coupled with the decarbonisation of the electricity grid, EVs can help reduce emissions in the transport sector and support Australia’s economy-wide net zero targets in the Paris Agreement – all while replacing oil imports with Australian sunshine. However, there’re still a few barriers holding us up 

Affordability and choice

For the average consumer, the barriers to purchasing an EV continue to be about affordability and choice. EVs are still unaffordable for many Aussies, costing around $50,000 more than EVs in the rest of the world.  

Plus, our choices are fairly limited. At the start of 2021, there were 14 EV models on the market in Australia. AGL EV subscribers can currently choose from one of seven electric car models. Because Australia is a right-hand driving nation with low demand, we’re at the back of the international queue for newer cheaper options.  

Not all hope is lost though…

As more people start buying EVs, encouraged by things like government subsidies, we’ll be offered more choices by manufacturers.

This is why AGL has advocated for policy that focuses on this issue.  

AGL also has an electric vehicle subscription service available in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. This gives drivers like you the chance to experience life behind the wheel of an EV without the commitment of owning one. It’s a great way to try before you buy.  

Range anxiety

Many drivers are still concerned about the lack of charging stations around Australia. It can be hard enough to figure out where you’re going and staying – no one wants to be stranded with a dead battery.  

We need major investment to get them developed so EV owners can travel without “range anxiety” – the fear of your EV running out of juice (i.e. battery) and nowhere to charge it. As we increase the number of charging stations and their funding, AGL can integrate apps into the network that help drivers locate charging stations.  

Whilst already a priority, building this network needs to come with a coordinated, extensive approach that puts drivers first. AGL doesn’t want drivers to need five different apps to manage multiple charging networks.  

Grid demand

More EVs do propose a technical challenge for the grid. Too many people charging at one time could prove to be an issue for the existing electrical network.  

Innovation and technology are the answer. For example, EV charging can be integrated into the AGL Virtual Power Plant (VPP)

The VPP puts the power in your hands by allowing you to play an active role in grid sustainability.

Connecting your EV to the AGL VPP redirects any leftover energy in your car battery to the VPP – sharing it to the community and giving the grid an extra boost

In other words, EV-grid integration may help solve other problems in our energy system. And AGL has already started exploring how.  

Why national policy is key

In the early days of solar power, it was more expensive. But the Australian Government policy helped make it more affordable. If we want to see a similar uptake in EVs, our policies have to reflect this.  

That’s why AGL is advocating for a national EV roadmap to establish targets and support initiatives, including the development of infrastructure (such as charging stations) for customers like you.  

What’s on the horizon?

AGL is proud of its initiatives that are already playing a role in this future – like AGL’s electricity plan exclusively for EV drivers and electric vehicle subscription service. Through these and future projects, AGL hopes to continue fulfilling its commitments as an Australian signatory to the EV100, promising to make our fleets across corporate and generation sites electric by 2030. 

It’s time to drive towards a decarbonised transport sector. And with the right support, this greener future is possible.  

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