Rollout of electric vehicle chargers for rural Australia hits a snag

The expansion of the electric-car charging network in regional Australia has hit a road block – the energy grid can't handle it yet.

The rollout of electric vehicle charging stations in regional parts of Australia has encountered a new hurdle. In many area the energy grid can't handle the extra demand that would be placed on it by the surge in use of electric-car chargers.

In a report by ABC News, Carly Irving-Dolan – chief executive of the National Roads and Motorists Association's (NRMA) 'Energy division – said many energy grids in regional areas need to be upgraded because they are not ready for the spike in demand.

“Fundamentally, the main barrier is the constraint on the grid,” Ms Irving-Dolan told ABC News.

“You’ll have places with low or very little power, that could only power a few houses and a roadhouse (petrol station).

“In other parts, for example, where we’re going to be building [these chargers] there is actually no power there at all.”

The NRMA has previously announced plans to expand its electric-car charger network in regional and remote areas, such as along the Stuart and Eyre Highways in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

In April 2023, the NRMA announced it was jointly funding – along with the Federal Government – a $78.6 million investment towards 117 charging stations across rural and regional Australian areas.

The shared investment into electric vehicle charging infrastructure aims to connect regional communities “through a network of fast chargers while also providing certainty to local electric vehicle owners and those visiting on holidays,” the NRMA said in its original media statement.

There are already electric car chargers spread throughout the 2700km Stuart Highway – but these chargers are only seen in populated areas such as Darwin and Alice Springs.

The NRMA and the Federal government are yet to announce a deadline for when this rural electric vehicle charging network will be completed.

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