13 May 2022

Planning report says EV charging in all new ACT developments a must

| James Coleman
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EV being charged

Safe and practical EV charging isn’t accessible to everyone. Photo: James Coleman.

In 2012, there were 10. In 2021, more than 1300 people had taken the plunge and bought and registered an electric vehicle (EV) in the ACT.

It’s clear local EV sales are exploding, which begs the question: where – and how – are we going to charge them all?

The ACT Government has already allocated $1.3 million of grant funding to install an additional 50 publicly accessible chargers across the capital. The government is waiting on detailed proposals from the shortlisted charging station companies before the money is dished out to the winner in late June.

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In the meantime, the ACT Government also wants to know what it would take to fit charging infrastructure in new developments and retrofit existing buildings.

A report by Australian consulting firm Urbis – conducted as part of information gathering for the government’s ‘Planning System Review and Reform Project’ and released in January this year – looks into this, and what it would take for the ACT to be truly ‘EV-ready’.

Report cover

The report was released in January this year as part of the ACT Government’s planning review. Image: Screenshot.

What’s the problem?

By 2030, EVs will likely own 30 per cent of the Australian new car market. And according to another market study, virtually all new passenger vehicles sold in Australia will be EVs by 2040.

Savings on running costs are a key reason buyers are making the switch, and Urbis suggests EVs will make even more financial sense as time goes on.

But while more public charging stations at service stations and shops are a must, most owners will simply plug it in when they get home. The current outlook for the ACT puts this number at 70 per cent of owners, while other studies have suggested it could be up to 90 per cent.

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Approximately 33 per cent of all dwellings in the ACT are either part of a multi-unit complex or semi-detached, and as the population continues to grow, this number will also grow.

Put the two together, and that’s a lot of people who will need a charging point in their private car spaces.

What’s the solution?

Urbis suggests changes to planning codes to bring the ACT in line with two global policy trends.

First, all parking spaces in new multi-unit residential developments should be fitted with the necessary infrastructure for slow charging; and second, 10 to 20 per cent of parking spaces in new commercial developments should have fast-charging infrastructure.

No matter the development, main switchboards and all associated wiring would need to meet a minimum electrical capacity.

The generic charging stations are supplied by Jet Charge.

A Chargefox charging point in an underground car park. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Who is going to pay?

The report notes that building managers and owners’ corporations are reluctant to invest in charging infrastructure due to the expense and blames the lack of government incentives.

The ACT Government currently offers a $15,000 interest-free loan to help cover the cost of buying an EV and fitting charging facilities, but this doesn’t extend beyond individual households.

Installation costs in a new development range between $1700 and $2500 per apartment. It’s even more expensive for retrofitting, which ranges from $2500 up to $8000 per apartment.

However, having a charging point in the car space does promise a return on investment. Capital value per square metre is estimated to increase by anywhere between $250 to $4500, while rent could be increased by $10 to $130.

When will we see it?

The ACT Government says the recommendations in the Urbis report will be considered as part of the ACT Planning System Review and Reform Project.

It has been 15 years since the last major review of the Territory Plan, and the government says it’s time for a new plan that reflects the importance of adapting to climate change, delivering important infrastructure for a growing population and providing greater housing choice and accessibility.

“Outcomes of this process and its integration into the new Territory Plan will be provided through community and industry consultation in 2022.”

Watch this space.

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Government also has to consider upgrades to local substations to handle additional loads in conjunction with existing buildings being retrofitted with charging stations. So while you might be ready to start retrofitting a building will the Government be ready to upgrade their infrastructure as well?

Capital Retro6:20 pm 15 May 22

“It’s clear local EV sales are exploding”…………..

So are their batteries.

Capital Retro5:17 pm 14 May 22

It should also be noted that when wind farms started appearing all over the NSW countryside the NSW RFS were not consulted and did not have an action plan to fight an electrical fire 50 metres off the ground.

I believe nothing has changed so when one of these monster windmills over-speeds in a hot north-westerly wind and burning gearbox oil starts spewing out, look out!

I’m sure planners do know the issues as well as the ACT Government.

The problem is that the ACT Government continues to push forward with their policies of more apartments and EVs without disclosing the future implications to property owners and purchasers.

The chances of a fire are small, but the consequences are large, so there is no way around the safety and insurance issues.

It is an issue that the Government needs to address.

Back in my grandparent’s day, garages were detached from the house due to the risk of fires from cars. That risk has since disappeared, but with the move toward EVs, I can also see similar implications arise in standalone private houses. It’s not just an issue for apartment owners.

What on earth makes you think the risk of fires from petrol vehicles has “disappeared”?

There are regular car and petrol station fires around the world, it’s a risk that we accept and manage.

Exactly like with EVs that are no more risky than existing ICE vehicles.

Capital Retro5:11 pm 14 May 22

If a petrol powered car catches fire in an underground car park there is some chance that the sprinkler system will control the spread of the fire.

If an EV catches fire in the same environment there is no chance of controlling the fire.

Capital Retro,
Except as you’ve been shown repeatedly that is blatantly false.

Hi Chewy14,
Ok, fair point. Fires do still happen, but relative to the number of ICE vehicles on the road and in garages, the incidence is practically zero.

You may be aware of the shipping liner full of prestigious EVs from Germany that sank due to fire. When these things go off, they

To clarify, the exact cause of the fire has not been made public, however, with a cargo including a large number of EVs, presumably packed in like sardines, the consequence of a fire on a ship containing EVs is going to end up bad.


Interesting that kenbehrens tendentiously changes “The cause of the fire is unknown” (in kb’s link) to “exact cause has not been made public”. The fact is nobody knows, so nobody can “make public” anything, exact or general.
Also kb, it has previously and repeatedly been linked that ICE fires exceed hybrid fires exceed EV fires, after accounting for

… relative populations.

That simply isn’t true.

I agree with you that ICE fires are rare.

So are EV fires. As has been linked here repeatedly in the past when CR goes on his anti EV crusades.

EV fires are actually far less likely than ICE vehicle fires but have their own challenges due to the nature of the fire.

All things that are fairly well understood and controlled with safety measures and risk management.

The only people still banging this drum are those who are trying to discredit EVs because of their inherent dislike of them

Scott Anthony12:14 pm 14 May 22

The two main challenges are power supply and fire risk. Some suburbs are maxed out on the power the infrastructure can actually supply the building. Rows of apartments all take large volumes of power now without adding the equivalent of 30% or more to each one, and that presumes there is enough power in the grid to supply..

The fire risks of charging an EV are significant and will see massive increases in body corporate insurance. Unlike petrol diesel fires, an EV fire supplies it’s own oxygen, burns extremely hot, produces thick toxic smoke and is nearly impossible to put out. It leaves a toxic residue that must be removed with specialist equipment. The risk to tenants and the building itself will send insurance costs sky-rocketing up. There will be fires asmore and more EVs come onto the market.

Yes, the exothermic reaction of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries that produce their own oxygen during decomposition is a bit scary.

I understand that solid-state batteries are safer, that said,

It’s a newer technology that isn’t readily available

Capital Retro8:26 am 14 May 22

It appears no comments are accepted on this thread.

Capital Retro7:11 am 14 May 22

The planners should first read this: https://www.agcs.allianz.com/content/dam/onemarketing/agcs/agcs/reports/AGCS-Electric-Vehicles-Risk-Report.pdf

And in particular, this:

“The fire and explosion risks associated with
high voltage batteries could give rise to
claims for property insurers, with the
increased fire risks of handling and storing
batteries. Marine insurers have already
experienced container ship fire losses from
mis-declared cargos of
lithium batteries. Overcharging of batteries or
issues with power connection could spark fires
resulting in residential or commercial property
claims, a particular concern where multiple
vehicles are charged in underground car parks.”

Bahahhaha and here you are again posting the same information as if it means anything other than there is a small risk involved as with any other vehicle.

You think the “planners” don’t know this stuff?

And you don’t think they also know about the currently far more relevant risk of explosions and fires caused by ICE vehicles that once again you conveniently ignore?

Good to see that you still needed 4 comments in a row to get you immoveable position across. Zoya would be proud.

Capital Retro10:35 pm 14 May 22

How come you only responded to one comment?

Bahahhaha, planners didn’t know about this risk when many buildings were built before electric cars existed. You think they looked in a crystal ball.

I am getting a battery for my house and I have to have a ‘bollard’ (the suppliers word) because of the risk.

Capital Retro4:00 pm 15 May 22

I assume that is because the battery is going in your garage? Yes, this has been the rule for years. It makes a garage useless. Hope yours is detached from the house so if/when it catches fire only your garage will be lost.

Because as we’ve already identified you don’t handle processing information that contradicts your pre determined position on any issue.

Although it must make it easy for you to start commenting when you don’t even need to read the article beforehand.

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