The need for solar energy will increase as electric cars become more common.
The need for solar energy will increase as electric cars become more common.

Solar energy to power electric car revolution

A SHIFT to rooftop solar, battery storage and electric vehicles could save households up to $5000 a year.

Bronson Norrish super charging his electric car. Picture: Sarah Matray
Bronson Norrish super charging his electric car. Picture: Sarah Matray

But a leading expert warns that Australia is badly unprepared for an electric car revolution which will use up 20 per cent of the nation's power supply.

Infrastructure Australia executive director of policy and research Peter Colacino will tell the Queensland Infrastructure Summit tomorrow: "Australia is at a tipping point where it is no longer a question of if, but when major disruptions will impact the electricity and transport sectors."

The two sectors were each undergoing the biggest changes in 100 years and converging in an unprecedented manner, with the consumer right at the heart of it, he told The Courier-Mail.

The take-up of EVs is expected to accelerate from 2025 when they will cost about the same as traditional combustion engine cars.

"Each of these electric vehicles will draw the same amount of energy as a house," Mr Colacino said. "The difference is we build about 5,000 houses a month, but sell 100,000 cars."

Half the country's vehicle fleet is expected to be electric between 2035 and 2045 and close to 100 per cent by the middle of the century, requiring 20 per cent of the national electricity supply to power them.

Almost 30,000 public fast chargers will be required by 2040 - each drawing the same energy as 80 airconditioning units.

Without good planning, the shift to an EV fleet would put pressure on the grid, requiring expensive additional infrastructure with significant costs to consumers and taxpayers.

However, a co-ordinated approach to renewable generation, smart meters and two-way energy flow electric vehicles could provide more than enough extra energy supply.

The need for solar energy will increase as electric cars become more common.
The need for solar energy will increase as electric cars become more common.

The CSIRO estimates rooftop solar could generate up to 45 per cent of total consumer energy requirements by 2045.

With the right reforms, Mr Colacino said, EVs could become part of the solution, acting as batteries for excess off-peak electricity while parked at night, or capturing solar power themselves, and feeding back into the network to help meet peak demand.

A combination of rooftop solar and lower running costs from electric vehicles, compared to current cars, could save households between $2000 and $5000 a year - up to three times the average power bill.

Previous research by consultants PwC has put the potential economic benefits from rapid EV take-up at up to $3 billion a year. The annual cost from about 1000 annual deaths linked to noxious fuel emissions is about $1.7 billion.

Mr Colacino said Infrastructure Australia planed to release further research over the next few months on EVs and the need for co-ordination between the energy and transport sectors.

The Infrastructure Association of Queensland summit is at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre tomorrow.



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