8 July 2022

Electrifying away from gas, better EV infrastructure: next steps on ACT carbon-neutral journey

| Lottie Twyford
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Electric Vehicle (EV) charging only carpark

The ACT Government has been told to improve EV parking and charging infrastructure if it’s going to meet its renewable targets. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The ACT will have to improve incentives, parking and charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and start work on a plan to electrify hot water systems as part of its transition to renewable energy.

They are some of the recommendations put forward by the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on the Environment Climate Change and Biodiversity.

The Territory government has set a 2045 target of net-zero emissions. In 2020, it announced it had reached its first aim of 100 per cent renewable energy – sourced through contracts with large-scale generators around the country.

The latest report highlighted that more work needs to be done, especially around gas heating and water.

The ACT Government wants to have 60,000 households disconnected from gas by 2025. By 2045, it wants gas gone.

Shane Rattenbury

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury and Chief Minister Andrew Barr agreed in their Labor-Greens 2020 Parliamentary and Governing Agreement to phase out gas by 2045. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Based on the ACT having 150,000 household gas connections, phasing out fossil gas by 2045 would require 6,000 disconnections a year or, if the target is 90,000 households being disconnected by 2030, then 9000 disconnections would be needed annually.

But the current scheme to phase these out is not working quickly enough.

In 2018-19, the government’s current energy efficiency improvement scheme delivered 770 replacements of gas appliances with heat pumps, which increased to around 2560 replacements in 2019-20.

Forward projections to 2025 prepared for Evoenergy suggest that under current policy settings, gas connections are predicted to drop by just over 3000 a year, only half of what is necessary to achieve the targets.

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According to the report, home heating and water heating make up the greatest energy use in the ACT and are dominated by inefficient and older gas appliances.

One of the reasons proposed for the scheme’s underperformance to date is that there isn’t any market competition for replacing gas heaters and hot water systems with electric ones and that the scheme doesn’t have any performance measures or targets.

The government has therefore been told to take action on both of these measures.

The committee recommended the ACT Government consider developing a plan covering the financial, social, business and industry transition of fully electrifying our hot water systems in the ACT.

It was also called on to examine how gasfitters could be retrained to support this move away from gas.

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But gaps in the government’s renewables strategy were not just identified in the area of gas alone.

The transport sector accounts for 64 per cent of emissions in the ACT.

The committee said that decarbonising this sector must be a priority for the ACT Government.

Its report acknowledged the most significant barrier to accessing EVs is the cost. Even with registration waived and a stamp duty exemption, the cheapest new EV vehicle still costs over $46,000.

There is also no market for second-hand vehicles in the Territory and the charging and parking infrastructure is not up to scratch.

Therefore, the government was told to explore targets to increase charging infrastructure and establish other incentives that may help EV uptake such as negative registration fees, transit lane access, and preferred parking arrangements for private EVs.

A government committee inquiry is underway to learn more about why Canberrans are not making the switch to EVs.

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We just got more diesel busses and thrashed the bus network.
The energy grid is going to be unreliable. At least with gas we won’t freeze to death in the dead of winter

thefionahamer11:58 pm 11 Jul 22

Untimed regular plug outlets for slow car and e-bike charging would be a great addition. Currently any slow chargers (for me the type 2 chargers are slow) cut off after half an hour to encourage vehicles to get out of the way of the next person. The Evie fast chargers in Civic and outside the Abode hotel spend unacceptable amounts of time broken. ANU seems to have no policy on charging infrastructure whatever.

HiddenDragon7:55 pm 11 Jul 22

An ACT government which is fretting about the slow movement away from household gas use should look in the mirror.

It really isn’t that long since the same nagging, nudging, proselytizing government was pushing Canberrans towards household gas use, most particularly for water heating, and away from the “evils” of electric – even though grid-scale renewable generation was then in clear prospect. Some of the sceptics and laggards may well remember that push and, aside from issues of cost and disruption of replacing existing gas appliances, could be forgiven for wondering what future fad/obsession will possess the ACT government and its climate bureaucracy and cut across the choices which households are now being asked to make.

As to EVs, by all means install extra charging stations, but beyond that leave it to the market and technological breakthroughs to get purchase prices down and stop wasting (borrowed) public money looking for ways to get a few more affluent people into EVs in Canberra. Throttling back on revenue gouging by the ACT government would also help some to afford an EV – but that’s never going to happen.

If I was to get an EV, I’d get this technology:

Capital Retro8:39 pm 11 Jul 22

Isn’t that a hybrid like the Toyota Prius?

Tom Worthington3:55 pm 11 Jul 22

Perhaps more emphasis should be placed on telling householders they can save on the supply charge when they disconnect gas. In my case, as I only have gas for solar boosted hot water, the the supply charge makes up most of the bill.

One way to boost EVs, would be free low rate charging in the middle of the day in public car parks. On a sunny day in the middle of the day there will be surplus solar power. Public car parks could be equipped with simple charging points (no electronics or meter, just a cable with a plug) offering free charging when the sun is shining.

What’s specifically is wrong with using gas?

Its more efficient to use an air source heat pump with around 300% efficiency using gas than just burning the gas to heat the air.
Instead if you burnt the gas in a generator (60% efficient) then assume 10% losses for the power grid. Gives you total efficiency of around 162%.
Compared to 90% for your typical gas heater.

Capital Retro4:02 pm 11 Jul 22

The Greens simply state that using gas contributes to the “climate crisis”.

The cold water we will get through our showers will give us a warm feeling that we are saving the planet.

The environment is better served by driving an existing, well serviced vehicle until it completely dies then by buying a new electric vehicle. Mine’s just passed 20 years of age. The manufacturing costs are never included in these sort of forecasts, which are particularly high for EVs given all the rare earth metals needed for the batteries.

Agreed. I have said it before. Much better for the environment to retrofit existing vehicles with a hybrid drive system or a full EV converson. LPG is cleaner than petrol and diesel and yet is seems to be aggressively phased out.

Well said The Silver.
Our car is 23 yo and still running well. Whether the EV fans accept it or not, the truth is there is significant carbon cost in mining, manufacturing and shipping

Well said.
The EV fans don’t acknowledge the carbon cost in mining, manufacturing and shipping for new cars, they only look at the carbon running cost, post-purchase.
Our car is 23 y.o. and it still runs. Frankly, the Government can talk all it likes about transport being a major carbon contributor and it’s incentives etc, but the undeniable truth is that EVs are not affordable for many people and even if they were cheaper, the waiting time for a new vehicle (of any type) is almost “forever”.
Personally, I think the current EVs will end up being worthless when solid state batteries become the norm.

It seems fairly non-contentious not to change unnecessarily. The question is what you buy when you do.

Capital Retro9:03 am 12 Jul 22

The same applies to instant gas HWS.

Quite so, CR. It probably applies to your old saucepans too.
“Necessity” may also be affected by economic incentives and costs, current and future.

Capital Retro8:46 am 11 Jul 22

I don’t know what sort of research they have done about expensive heat pump HWS systems in Canberra but everyone one I know who has tried one (including myself) has been very disappointed.

For a start, they don’t like the low temperatures in Canberra and unless they are sited with an open northerly aspect they will not function satisfactorily.

They also need their sacrificial anodes replaced at least every 3 years and this means they have to have enough free vertical space to lift them out and have them replaced by a serviceman at considerable cost.

If the anodes are not replaced the water turns to a “jelly-like” substance and the whole system has to be replaced.

At the end of the day there is nothing more reliable, efficient and cost effective as the instant gas HWS that are in most of the homes using gas in Canberra.

Once again, the cost of virtue signaling has no boundaries.

How many heat pump HWS are installed in Canberra, CR? They seem to work perfectly well. Like any heat pump, they prefer a non-southerly siting, which is on a par wth saying it was best not to mount a TV antenna pointing away from the transmitter.

Heard of stainless steel tanks, or an impressed-current anode? Even without, it is inspection that is recommended 3-yearly with actual lifetime longer, especially with Canberra’s soft water. Your blanket claim is, of course, wrong.

I have tried all the HWS, and will take reliable, economical heat pump any day. Ideally solar powered by day, with an off-peak boost at night if desired (before the cold of dawn), no smell, no worries about heat exhaust, no need to pay daily for unnecessary gas supply; just efficiency.

Once again, you set out to cost people improvement by trying to spread your own lack of knowledge as a gospel.

phydeaux… there you go again – facts, facts, facts…. please stop with this logical avenue…. CR is just trying to spruke his Google ability – shame on you.

The one drawback on HPWHs is that take a relatively long time to heat a volume of water to the preset temperature. In order to avoid falling behind on the demand, particularly at peak times, most HPWHs are equipped to provide traditional electric-resistance water-heating as well – do this in off-peak…. hey presto….

Sorry CR – facts, facts, facts……

Capital Retro3:59 pm 11 Jul 22

Putting aside my adverse real experiences and your euphoric dreams with heat pump HWS, a recent survey found that Australians made the following choices when buying/replacing their HWS:

Electric: 44%

Gas: 37%

Solar: 11%

Heat Pump: 7%

As usual, the Green-washed ACT Government is choosing the least popular and (most expensive) idealistic solution to a non-problem.

So what? They are also still buying more ICE vehicles than electric. That will change (difficult word?), and solar too is a sound option.

You neglected that I too mentioned real experience. Far more importantly my factual corrections are undeniable.

Capital Retro5:36 pm 11 Jul 22

So, you still have a heat pump HWS with a stainless steel tank, and an impressed-current anode?

Never confuse facts with narratives, by the way.

Don’t confuse independent technological solutions. Of course I stilll have it.

Are you saying you prefer stories to facts?

Capital Retro9:16 am 12 Jul 22

I assume you are referring to the Hydrotherm brand which is very expensive. It is also unsuitable for the Canberra climate as its min temp. operation is -5°C and max temp. operation 45°C which sort of makes you a hypocrite because -5 is factually common in Canberra and +45 will be every second day according to you and your warmist colleages.


Your research has been quite inadequate.

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