Electric vehicles offer a range of benefits to consumers, and yet the uptake of these vehicles in Australia remains stubbornly low. In recognition of this, the Queensland Government implemented Queensland’s Electric Vehicle Strategy to help encourage the uptake of EVs across the state. A key element of this strategy is the creation of Queensland’s Electric Super Highway, the world’s longest electric super highway in a single state.

The Queensland Electric Super Highway (QESH) will feature 31 fast-charging sites, allowing Queenslanders and tourists to travel from Coolangatta to Cairns, and from Brisbane to Toowoomba in a low or zero emissions vehicle.

The fast chargers are installed in convenient, safe locations close to major highways where there are existing amenities, such as cafes, restaurants and shops.

The sites were identified to allow motorists to easily charge their electric vehicle (EV) and enjoy a short break during their journey, allowing them to prepare for a safe onwards journey.

Phase 2 of the Queensland Electric Super Highway added 13 more fast-charging sites, and it is due for completion before the end of 2020.

The new fast-charging site locations are at Ayr, Cardwell, Forest Glen, Gin Gin, Gunalda (Curra), Gympie, Innisfail, Ipswich, Mt Larcom, North Lakes, Port Douglas, Proserpine and Springwood.

These new sites continue to provide further reassurance for EV drivers that there is appropriate charging infrastructure in place and provide an incentive for future EV users.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said “Since we were elected in 2015, the Palaszczuk Government has been committed to supporting more Queenslanders to use electric vehicles.

“Queensland was the first state in Australia to release an electric vehicle strategy. “A key action from that strategy was building the QESH, which began operating in early 2018 and eventually included 18 charging sites.

“We made those charging stations free to use for the first 12 months to encourage people to try electric vehicles, and since that time we’ve also seen more affordable EV models come into the market.

“The QESH is still more affordable per charge than any other network in the country too. “Queensland has the largest state-controlled road network in Australia, and the journey between Brisbane and Cairns is almost 1,700km.

“Motorists who may be thinking about making the switch to an EV need to have confidence that the charging infrastructure they need are easily found in regional areas, not just busy urban centres.

“The rollout of these new sites, which will be sponsored by RACQ under a new partnership with the State Government, means EV drivers are good to go and explore Queensland this summer.”

Mr Bailey said the $2.5 million investment in 13 more charging stations was well advanced, with civil works completed at most sites. RACQ Head of Public Policy Rebecca Michael said the Club was proud to support ultra-low emission technology and vehicles.

“We’ve seen EV sales in Australia grow by 200 per cent in the past year and EV technology is only going to continue to rise in popularity, which is why we’re so keen to support this initiative and provide Queensland drivers with more options for travel,” Dr Michael said.

“We know ‘range anxiety’ can be a real concern for drivers afraid they can’t get from their desired location on one charge.

Having a comprehensive and connected charging network across our state will give motorists confidence to switch to low emission vehicles.”

The QESH charging stations use green energy either through direct green energy credits or offsets, making them a carbon-neutral and pollutant-free transport option.

More renewables (such as solar and wind) are being added to Queensland’s energy generation mix, which means the energy used to charge EVs will become more green and sustainable.

An EV fully recharged by solar can save 2.7 to 3.8 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually when compared to a fossil fuel vehicle (driving 15,000km per year).

The QESH has been built to help increase the number of public fast-charging stations available for electric vehicles.

In the past, there was a lack of public charging infrastructure which may have discouraged consumers from buying an EV, and contributed to perceived range anxiety – a common misconception that EVs are impractical due to range constraints.

The actual reality is that most people charge their EVs at home, and we know from overseas markets that most users do not use a whole charge in a typical day.

This means the widespread adoption of EVs will cause a cultural shift in the way we think about our own mobility needs – a shift from visiting the petrol station regularly to charging overnight or when the vehicle is not in use.

Queensland’s EV strategy

The QESH is part of the Queensland Government’s broader EV strategy, The Future is Electric: Queensland’s Electric Vehicle Strategy, which outlines the state’s roadmap to a more sustainable, lower fossil fuel future for its roads.

The strategy outlines 16 cost-effective initiatives that the Queensland Government will implement to encourage consumers and support the uptake of these vehicles.

The initiatives will help empower the community, facilitate the transition to EV through charging infrastructure, support cost-effective programs to promote the uptake of EVs, and prepare for further future actions that may be required.

The 16 initiatives have been classified into four groups: empowering consumers, enabling charging infrastructure, exploring cost-effective programs to support the uptake of EVs, and envisaging what future government action may be required to ensure Queenslanders benefit from this transition.

Under the empower banner, to provide Queenslanders with opportunities to investigate and experience EV technology and other related innovations, the Queensland Government will:

» Facilitate knowledge sharing and community engagement through the establishment of the Queensland Electric Vehicle Council

» Bridge the information gap by providing Queenslanders with information that supports informed technology choices and provide opportunities for the community to experience this innovative technology

» Empower local EV technology innovations

Through the enable initiative, to assist in overcoming the barrier of limited EV charging infrastructure, and prepare Queensland for the upcoming transition towards EVs, the Queensland Government will initiate:

» The Queensland Electric Super Highway network
» Regional EV infrastructure
» Workplace EV charging trial
» A national discussion on EVs

Under the explore theme, the Queensland Government has developed six programs to investigate and explore further ways in which it can support a transition to EVs, including:

» Transitioning government vehicle fleets
» Drive Electric Queensland
» Integrating EVs with public transport hubs
» Improving Queensland climate resilience using EVs
» Electrical infrastructure analysis of government buildings
» Feasibility of electric heavy vehicles

And under the envisage platform, the Queensland Government has developed three exploratory projects to envisage what future government actions may be required to ensure Queenslanders gain the maximum benefit from EVs.

These are:
» Reuse and recycling of EV batteries
» Future mobility trends – shared/autonomous vehicles
» Electric public transport vehicles

What next?

The Queensland Government developed the QESH and its EV strategy in order to kick-start a conversation with Queenslanders about how to successfully navigate the transition to EVs to reap the benefits of this innovative technology.

The Queensland Electric Vehicle Council has been involved with the implementation of many of these programs, and will be consulting with industry partners and local communities to ensure Queensland keeps pace with global developments in the EV market.

The Queensland Government will continue work with the Queensland Electric Vehicle Council to explore other initiatives to support a transition towards EVs.

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