The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced an initial $16.5 million in grants from the Federal Government’s $71.9 million Future Fuels Fund, for the installation of EV chargers around the country.
The grants are open to organisations to install DC rapid chargers (50kW and above) in each capital city, and eastern-state regional centres including Newcastle, Wollongong, NSW Central Coast, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Geelong.
Each regional location is expected to receive at least four rapid-charging stations, with recipients encouraged to spread the chargers around their geographic areas to maximise coverage.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the Future Fuels Package, announced by Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor in September 2020, is aimed to help businesses and communities take advantage of opportunities offered by alternative fuel technologies.
“Through this initial round, we are addressing one of the barriers to roll-out of new vehicle technologies by significantly increasing the number of fast-charging stations available to consumers across Australia, and reducing charging blackspots in both metropolitan and regional centres," Miller said.
“As electric vehicles continue to become more competitive, it is important we have the recharging infrastructure in place to give motorists confidence they can choose an EV and recharge it conveniently and cost-effectively."
Subsequent funding rounds, kicking off later this year, will focus on supporting business fleets to transition to BEVs and to explore opportunities with hydrogen and biofuels.
Applications for the initial round are now open and will close on Tuesday, April 6 2021. Interested applicants, including businesses and local government, should review the Future Fuels Round 1 Guidelines at the ARENA funding page.
Earlier this month, the Energy Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack released a discussion paper to inform the development of the Future Fuels Strategy, which outlines the Government’s vision to empower consumer choice, stimulate industry development and reduce emissions in the road transport sector.
EV advocates have welcomed some of the paper's initiatives, such as incentives for business to adopt BEVs for their fleets.
However, it was generally felt the strategy didn't go far enough to encourage private BEV uptake in Australia, with the EV Council describing it as “yet another flaccid, do-nothing document that will prevent Australians getting access to the world’s best electric vehicles”.