What is holding back EV charging stations in Canberra?

James Coleman 8 September 2021 106
Electric vehicles at charging station

ACT is home to the highest number of electric vehicles per capita in Australia. Photo: File.

There have been plenty of promises and a lot of money thrown around, but electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the ACT still remain few and far between.

Since 2018, the ACT Government has committed more than $500,000 to getting public charging stations up and running, but the PlugShare app reveals there are currently only 31 in the ACT, two of which are undergoing repairs.

In May 2021, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced that 50 charging stations would be rolled out across Canberra within 12 months, expecting that number to climb into the hundreds during the next five years.

“The planning code is also in the process of being amended to require EV charging points in new multi-apartment builds,” he said.

“We could ultimately seek to mandate that every petrol station has EV charging points.”

The ACT might only account for four per cent of the nation’s EVs, but we have the highest number of EVs per capita in Australia. The number of EVs currently registered passed the 1000 mark in July thanks to a Tesla Model 3.

The numbers work out at approximately 32 EVs to one charger.

Owners standing next to electric vehicles

The first and 1000th registered electric vehicles in the ACT, and their proud owners. Photo: ACT Government.

In June 2021, ActewAGL partnered with national EV charging network provider Evie Networks to drive “a larger, more reliable and accessible charging experience for the ACT”.

Evie Networks CEO Chris Mills said that rolling out publicly available charging stations is a lengthy process involving many steps and red tape.

“As to why there aren’t more publicly available chargers in operation, that is typically explained by the low number of EVs on the road,” he said.

Mr Mills said Evie is taking a “build it and they will come” strategy and hopes to remove range anxiety by building a network of chargers in advance of demand.

READ ALSO: Network deal to boost number of EV fast chargers across the ACT

Managing director of Detlev’s Electrical Services, Grae Munro, says that with the ever-increasing range in new EVs, combined with dropping costs, the tipping point is fast approaching where EV costs will align with those powered by the traditional internal combustion engine.

He said feedback from industry experts and customers includes the drawbacks of limited accessibility to charging stations in public places, shopping centres and office buildings; and limited understanding of charging times and associated costs.

“With the products already available, there is a full range of both smart and simplified charging options for new and existing residential and commercial buildings,” said Mr Munro.

“A simple switchboard upgrade or extra circuit may be all it takes to install an EV charger in your home.”

Model 3 Tesla electric vehicle

Teslas account for more than 400 of all EVs in the ACT. Photo: James Coleman.

The ACT currently uses about 2,900,000 megawatt hours of electricity in our homes and workplaces each year. Estimates suggest we will consume nearly double that when EVs are the main form of transport.

If it is a matter of overloading the grid, Mr Munro said there are things individual households can do to help ease the load.

“We are working with some really cool emerging EV technology,” he said. “Automation allows us to provide our customers with the choice of where they draw their energy from – whether that be solar, battery or generator – and at the same time reducing their cost.”

Other load management systems aim to lessen the effects of a power outage, or avoid charging during times of peak demand.

The ACT Government is also trialling ‘Vehicle 2 Grid’ systems that enable power to be fed both into and out of an EV’s battery pack.

Watch this space.

Contact Detlev’s Electrical Services for more information on EV charging options for your home or business.

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106 Responses to What is holding back EV charging stations in Canberra?
Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:19 pm 16 Sep 21

The headline in the first link it totally misleading. The proposed legislation says it will be a requirement for every new home to have a charge point, where there is an associated car parking space.

This could be an external household 240V power point – I have them at the front and rear of my house.

But that story came from England where they import kiln dried wood chips from the USA and burn them in old coal fired power stations to produce UN endorsed “renewable electricity” so they excel in virtue signaling.

whatwik whatwik 4:00 pm 16 Sep 21
Ian McLeod Ian McLeod 9:29 am 15 Sep 21

Total non-event. I'm sure the same complaints were made about horseless carriages initially too. So what, progress happens, we'll survive. And unlike horseless carriages, EVs can use existing power supplies so there's no "crisis" beyond the crisis of whingeing from the usual corners.

I have an EV and charging overnight is totally fine, as is everyone else I know who has one. Fast chargers are really only needed for heavy use or long trips, and even then most just charge up on the cheap from home before they leave.

And eventually this will mean reduced transports costs right across the community as EVs become the norm. Imported fuel prices will only go up.

As for grid load, price signalling will fix that. Another total non-issue. EVs already pay more for faster charging and pay less for slower off-peak charging - which for most is fine. The savings can be substantial.

It's also interesting seeing all the usual complainers up in arms about any and all change and fighting any attempt to reduce our $40 billion annual foreign oil dependence - which is apparently "good for Australia" and how it's apparently "unpatriotic" to use our own energy instead of imported oil. Just to make a point 🤦

BTW - big thanks to Zed for letting Canberra know about the great EV incentives so I went and got one. Yay.

So now I support Aussie energy producers, I don't get why some people fight the national interest and champion foreign oil? 🤷‍♂️

Ian McLeod Ian McLeod 9:00 am 15 Sep 21

And when horseless carriages came out people bemoaned the lack of fuel pumps compared to reliable horses. So what.

Progress happens. It’s early days, a total non-issue.

Especially when overnight home charging is fine for most, and more will install home chargers.

As for grid load – price signalling will fix that. So again, a total non-issue, and eventually reduce transport costs right across the community as the EV market grows.

As for all these people complaining about EVs, it’s just the usual people complaining just to complain, which is ironic because they are complaining about reducing our $40b oil import bill, which is apparently “good for us”? So complain about using our own energy while cheering for imported oil? Go figure .

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:32 am 15 Sep 21

    A battery is a “fuel pump” too and EVs have been around at least 20 years but still have problems with getting their “fuel pumps” right.

    Meanwhile, there is nothing like the reliability of an ICE powered vehicle.

    What is the value of EV and solar batteries we are now importing? Let’s suggest the battery in a new EV costs $16K and lasts 8 years – that’s the equivalent of $2k’s worth of petrol a year for an ICE powered vehicle which is about average consumption and a new motor is not required at the end of 8 years.

    Not only is the battery science incomplete but the economics for an EV don’t stack up either.

    chewy14 chewy14 12:40 pm 15 Sep 21

    Capital Retro,
    We’ve been through this.

    An ICE vehicle has significantly more mechanical equipment than an EV.

    So whilst an EV might need its batteries replaced, the maintenance activities required to keep that ICE vehicle “reliable” is much, much higher. Fluids, wires, , belts, spark plugs etc.

    Hardly surprising that you’d forget all those extra costs though, economics is clearly not a strong suit for you.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:59 pm 15 Sep 21

    Economics to you is probably all theory (like climate change) so at the end of the day so let’s focus on facts solely and to that end I have an ICE powered vehicle that has travelled 320K kilometers over 20 years and the only replaced items in the engine (apart from consumables) are a new set of spark plugs. Other items that have been replaced on the vehicle have been generally necessitated through wear and tear.

    I read somewhere that a headlight replacement on a Tesla is several thousand dollars so the contingent repair/replacement cost liability in having one of these EVs is substantial without factoring in the massive cost and disposing of several batteries that would be required over 20 years.

    No doubt you will try and tell me I have only told half the story so over to you.

    chewy14 chewy14 7:00 pm 15 Sep 21

    Capital Retro,
    Thank you for admitting that you have had to replace things on your ICE vehicle due to wear and tear along with the significant amount of consumables that also would have gone into maintaining your vehicle.

    Most of which are not required on an EV.

    Although if you actually wanted to compare a modern day Tesla to a comparable ICE vehicle, it wouldn’t be your car, it would be a brand new high performance vehicle.

    If you want to argue that cars built 20 years ago were far simpler, had much lower performance, lower safety and less accessories I would agree with you.

    But that doesn’t really reflect a comparison in 2021.

    Horses were also far simpler than cars when the ICE vehicle was invented.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:28 pm 15 Sep 21

    Wow! Teslas don’t wear away tyres and wiper blades? No wonder everyone is after one.

    By the way, who needs a high performance vehicle in a city like Canberra that will soon be 40 kph everywhere?

    chewy14 chewy14 11:22 pm 15 Sep 21

    Capital Retro,
    No they don’t have timing belts, spark plugs, wiring or consumables etc. like your ICE vehicle.

    Or are you saying you have some sort of mythical car that runs on hope and dreams?

    As for high performance vehicles, I don’t own one so don’t really care. If you want a fair comparison though perhaps you should ask those who do?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:12 am 16 Sep 21

    But they do have batteries which are very expensive to replace/dispose of or did you conveniently forget that?

    My car is real and already has the runs on the board. Rather than a myth, it’s a legend.

    It’s the EV’s that are running on hopes and dreams – hopes that the battery won’t go flat and dreams that the taxpayers will build their owners a recharger on every corner.

    chewy14 chewy14 11:27 am 16 Sep 21

    They have batteries which are constantly coming down in price and are recyclable.

    Almost everything else is more expensive to operate and maintain on an ICE vehicle.

    Making EVs more economic every year compared to ICE vehicles, which is why their proliferation in the market is increasing rapidly.

    And it’s pretty ironic when you talk about needing rechargers built, considering the amount of petrol stations that exist for that exact purpose for ICE vehicles.

    They must have magically appeared by themselves too.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:40 pm 17 Sep 21

    Can you nominate one petrol/service station that was subsidised by the taxpayer?

    chewy14 chewy14 10:46 pm 17 Sep 21

    Yes I can.

    All of them.

Sol Sol 8:45 am 15 Sep 21

Get Zed on to another EV whinge campaign. Every time the Canberra Libs whinge about EVs their sales seem to jump.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:19 pm 14 Sep 21

This new concept could obviate the need for more EV charging stations and at the same time solve Canberra’s housing problems:


bj_ACT bj_ACT 10:39 am 14 Sep 21

A friend seriously looked into setting up a EV charging site in the Light Industrial part of Phillip not far from car yards. The commercial rates were going to be $90,000 a year for less than 3,000sqm of space. It was not going to be profitable business with those kind of tax levels.

He ended up with the space and location that he needed in Sydney for a third of the annual commercial rates as Canberra. He couldn’t believe the Phillip Industrial zone paid rates like an inner city multi story business office. I suddenly realised why the Phillip business owners have been crying foul about rates over the last few years.

    chewy14 chewy14 2:05 pm 14 Sep 21

    “I suddenly realised why the Phillip business owners have been crying foul about rates”.

    Because their land is worth millions and millions of dollars?

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 5:11 pm 14 Sep 21

    The land might be worth millions but the business the people run from that land isn’t necessarily worth millions.

    This will be the interesting transition from locations like Phillip that were originally cheap locations and setup to support plumbers, upholstery, picture framers, sewing shops etc to locations that are suddenly operating on higher per square meter land value and taxed accordingly.

    Chewy I know you’re a purist for valuing and taxing land at its highest and best use value, (and I get the theory) but the ‘economic’ focused model the ACT Government use for annual rates and taxes obviously doesn’t factor in the ‘social or environmental’ value of the land. There’s probably non financial value to Canberrans in having an EV charging station, a mental support centre or a repair shop for home appliances etc in Phillip.

    The ACT Government skirts around this issue by inconsistently giving social and environmental grants to select businesses and organisations that operate from high value and such as in Civic.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:26 pm 14 Sep 21

    You caught him out – he was only telling half the story.

    chewy14 chewy14 7:02 pm 14 Sep 21

    “The land might be worth millions but the business the people run from that land isn’t necessarily worth millions”

    Yes, it’s almost like the land might be better used for other forms of commercial pursuits than what the current businesses are doing.

    Change is often difficult in these types of situations but luckily the landholders have made huge windfall gains that should lessen their pain.

    Although I will actually partially agree with you that the current ACT Planning arrangements does make it harder for some of these businesses to utilise their land to the full extent. Hopefully greater flexibility along with greater certainty is provided in future planning changes.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 7:16 pm 14 Sep 21

    Wow Chewy. some common ground between us on an aspect of land and urban planning. We need to declare a public holiday to celebrate. 😉

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:08 pm 16 Sep 21

    When is the wedding?

Raymond Evans Raymond Evans 6:46 pm 13 Sep 21

Whos going to pay for it 🤔

    Ian McLeod Ian McLeod 9:18 am 15 Sep 21

    Raymond Evans you, personally, all your income confiscated to support this socialist madness. You should burn some coal in outrage.

Charles Godworth Charles Godworth 1:19 pm 13 Sep 21

You would have thought the greens-labor government would be doing more. Considering they are already giving free rego to the select few who can afford these cars

    Ian McLeod Ian McLeod 9:19 am 15 Sep 21

    Why? You may not yet be aware, but most homes come with a power point. Not all, but most.

    Charles Godworth Charles Godworth 9:23 am 15 Sep 21

    Not a 3 phase power circuit though. Otherwise the draw will trip the circuit board. BTW, you got a tesla yet?

Jason McIntosh Jason McIntosh 11:27 am 13 Sep 21

Imagine the cost of retrofitting all the thousands of new apartment car parks with high powered chargers

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:26 am 13 Sep 21

Ben Garden, GM may not go 100% EV if they can’t eliminate all the after sales problems which are costing them billions of dollars.


    JS9 JS9 2:43 pm 13 Sep 21

    While there is a clear issue with the batteries, the most significant issue of all has nothing to do with batteries at all

    “It wasn’t really a problem last week since GM had already stopped production due to the chip shortage.”

    And the chip shortage impacts on cars of all types, not just EVs.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:45 pm 13 Sep 21

    There have been at least 3 recalls on GM’s EVs. Why defend the indefensible?

    JS9 JS9 10:40 am 14 Sep 21

    Just because you specialise in telling half the story CR, others don’t.

    The key factor in the decision to stop product is the chip shortage, not the issues with the batteries. I never said that wasn’t a factor either – but paint the whole story, not a convenient slither of it please.

Jim Bob Jim Bob 11:33 pm 12 Sep 21

Probably because it’s a small province so home charging is sufficient for most people.

    Ben Garden Ben Garden 5:51 am 13 Sep 21

    Jim Bob this. Only time supercharging is needed is interstate trips

    Ian McLeod Ian McLeod 9:35 am 15 Sep 21

    Jim Bob 2KWh / hr is fine for most, considering that it's around 10-20KWh / 100kms so overnight charging is fine (around 12KWh or 80KMs overnight, fine for around town).

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:22 pm 12 Sep 21

No one seems to care about the question outlined in the headline of this article and as the pro EV comments seem to be dominated by the usual people it is reasonable to conclude there is no lack of EV charging stations at all which is great news for ratepayers.

Jay Asper Jay Asper 2:57 pm 12 Sep 21

I’m guessing most of these EVs charge at home? Would be good to have more around parking lots and shopping centres though

    Ben Garden Ben Garden 5:50 am 13 Sep 21

    Jay Asper precisely. With how small the ACT is for daily driving unless you live in apartment without charging, overnight home charging with a full battery each morning is the go

Oscar Mike Oscar Mike 11:33 am 12 Sep 21

It’s funny how people have been wooed into thinking that EV is better for the environment, because they don’t see the transmissions they think there are no transmissions.

    Jack Dawson Jack Dawson 4:10 pm 12 Sep 21

    It would be easier to take nay sayers seriously of they came from some sort of position of strength. Such as having sufficient vocabulary to use the correct word. Emissions.

    JS9 JS9 2:30 pm 13 Sep 21

    Jack – I sense the beginnings of a new conspiracy theory. EVs don’t have emissions, they have transmissions…. of Covid. All makes sense now 😛

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:17 am 14 Sep 21

    The “transmission” reference could apply to the EMR generated within an EV being transferred to driver and passengers.

    Before you all tell me to put my tin hat on, consider this:

    With batteries and power cables in EVs and hybrids often located close to the driver and passengers, some direct exposure to electromagnetic fields is inevitable. Also, from the electronic devices of the driver and passengers, all this is combined and added to the artificial emissions that arrive from the outside of the vehicle in the area where the vehicle roams, it becomes a substantial amount of fields inside the vehicle, still being worse when this exposure is extremely prolonged, as happens with drivers who spend hours a day behind the wheel.

    Sol Sol 8:48 am 15 Sep 21

    Avoid all electricity and live in a cave then. Newsflash – light is also an EM wave, so avoid the sun too.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:13 am 16 Sep 21

    I’ll put my tin hat on then.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:56 am 12 Sep 21

Fact check:
The EVC claims Australians bought 7248 electric cars in the first six months of 2021. Figures published by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show 2188 were sold by established brands ranging from Mazda to Mercedes, which means Tesla delivered about 5031 cars to customers.23 Aug 2021

Stephen Ning Stephen Ning 12:39 am 12 Sep 21

Probably because most people can charge at home.

Jody Maree Harrison Jody Maree Harrison 10:34 pm 11 Sep 21

Charge it home .

Chris Endrey Chris Endrey 5:38 pm 11 Sep 21

Imagine if there were 31 petrol stations per 1000 cars

    Marco Spaccavento Marco Spaccavento 6:33 pm 11 Sep 21

    Chris Endrey But also imagine if everyone had a petrol pump at home, like EV owners effectively have.

    Lynnette Dickinson Lynnette Dickinson 8:22 am 12 Sep 21

    Marco Spaccavento assuming of course that all EV owners live in houses, which many do not.

    Kevin Hingston Kevin Hingston 8:34 am 12 Sep 21

    Chris Endrey imagine if petrol stations required more than three minutes car contact.

    Or imagine if EV stations had to be refilled with electricity weekly.

    Kevin Hingston Kevin Hingston 8:41 am 12 Sep 21

    Chris Endrey bowsers per*

    Chris Endrey Chris Endrey 11:40 am 12 Sep 21

    Kevin Hingston good points, but given 1 in every 40 cars can be currently charging at a public facility in the ACT, I’m going to save my concern for the crises we do have.

    Kevin Hingston Kevin Hingston 12:45 pm 12 Sep 21

    Sure but don’t do it through odious comparisons.

    Bobby Ramsey Bobby Ramsey 12:50 pm 12 Sep 21

    Chris Endrey or do you mean 31 petrol pumps per 1000 cars?

    Chris Endrey Chris Endrey 1:07 pm 12 Sep 21

    Kevin Hingston I’m sorry you found it odious, I will refrain from commenting in the future

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