Step on the Biogas
Electric cars have been ubiquitous in the news in 2019, with Australia’s premier news outlets calling 2019 a “watershed year for electric vehicles”. Last month, a new government report was published, forecasting that half the number of cars sold in Australia in 2035 will be electric.
The report, published by the government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economies, looked at the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in 22 countries and found:
- Sales vary between nations but are expected to grow rapidly across the world in coming decades
- The EV share of new car sales in Australia will rise from about 0.34% today to 8% in 2025
- EV sales will leap to 27% of new car sales in 2030 and 50% in 2035 as prices of EV technology fall
- Battery cost is expected to more than halve by 2025 and continue to decline, but battery size and vehicle range would both increase to more than double by mid next decade before peaking, meaning that the outlook is for a fairly constant battery price for EVs out to 2025, before the price starts to decline
- A similar trajectory is expected for other manufacturing related costs
Behyad Jafari, chief executive of industry group the Electric Vehicle Council, commenting on the report, said that the move to EVs in Australia will happen even without government help, commenting, “As this report shows, the destination for Australia is predetermined. The choice is how much value and benefit we capture in getting there…Globally, there is some $US300bn being invested in the EV sector. Surely Australia should be getting a piece of the action.”
Aside from the price of EVs which is declining, the other potential barrier to entry for EVs in Australia is the lack of charging infrastructure in the country. Infrastructure Australia, back in February this year, labelled the expansion of electric vehicle charge infrastructure as a high priority, putting it on a list of 29 ‘High Priority Initiatives’ for Australia.
There is movement on this front; in 2017 the Queensland Government launched ‘The Future is Electric: Queensland’s Electric Vehicle Strategy’, a strategy to help Queensland move to a cleaner, greener EV fleet, and as part of that strategy, Queensland now has an Electric Super Highway, a network of fast charging stations allowing EVs to travel from Coolangatta to Cairns and Brisbane to Toowoomba.
Australian start-up Chargefox secured $15million this year to build Australia’s largest ultra-rapid network and already has five fully operational, ultra-rapid charging stations operating; one at Airport West, two in regional Victoria (Barnawartha and Euroa), one at Toombul shopping centre in Brisbane, and one opened just yesterday in Torquay, Victoria. It is intended that by the end of the year a national network of 22 ultra chargers will be operational forming a network connecting Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide. Additional ultra-rapid charging stations are also being planned for Western Australia and Tasmania.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) also announced at the end of last month, that it is giving $15 million in funding to Evie Networks to help roll out the planned $50 million network of ultra-fast electric vehicle charges along Australia’s highways, to be installed between Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as “destination charging” in Far North Queensland, Tasmania and Perth.
Some critics of EVs say that that the electricity used to power them is only as “green” as its source, which could be from coal-fired power stations or natural gas power plants. Indeed, a recent article in The Australian newspaper (and seized upon with glee by the usual climate change denialists), proclaimed that EVs produce more carbon emissions than their diesel counterparts. This is due to the amount of energy used to manufacture them and to produce electric batteries. However, once the cars are driven, EVs will be about 50 percent more efficient during the course of their lifetime when charged with a mixture of coal-fired and renewable energy. Further, decarbonising energy production by the use of renewable energy also make EVs cleaner over their lives by reducing the CO2 produced to charge them. There are fundamental limitations on how efficient petrol and diesel vehicles can become, whereas low-carbon electricity and increased battery manufacturing efficiency can cut most of the manufacturing emissions and nearly all electricity use emissions from EVs.
One clean energy alternative is the renewable energy sector of biogas power generation. Two years ago, Queensland Urban Utilities introduced a promotional vehicle (the Poo Car), an electric car running on electricity generated by a sewage treatment plant converting sewage sludge into biogas. The biogas powers generators that help power the plant, and the electric cars can be plugged into the plant.
Energy 360, together with its bioenergy and strategic partners, has the technology to do exactly this; treat organic waste streams and landfill gas through anaerobic digestion, to produce biogas for the generation of electricity. Electric vehicles powered by renewable electricity from biogas are therefore running on 100% renewable energy, substantially reducing GHG emissions, as well as reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. With charging infrastructure expanding across the country, EV prices becoming more affordable and in light of the increasing occurrences of climate crisis disasters globally, it’s time to step on the biogas!
 The Guardian Australia, 14 August 2019
 The Driven, 26th August 2019
 Whichcar Australia, April 2019