In the media

Electric Cars

Much is being said by Labor leader Bill Shorten about electric cars. He is driving a campaign in favour of the changeover from fossil fuelled vehicles to electric cars, perhaps because he sees it as delivering green credentials and even as a career defining project.

From my observations it is likely to be premature. This plan has some serious and practical logistic weaknesses that can result in it becoming a spectacular failure. It could be another NBN black hole in which taxpayers money is poured without any real, qualified due diligence understanding of the fault lines on the road ahead.

I have serious doubts that the Opposition Leader has done any homework on this subject. Such a change will require a great deal of physical infrastructure to meet demand for recharging the batteries of those new vehicles and the additional demand that will place on the supply of an already challenged power supply.

It seems to me that much more must be accomplished with battery technology and the home recharging capability to make this futuristic plan viable. Certainly, there is some degree of attraction to driving a silent, non-emission vehicle, but the electricity to recharge batteries must come from somewhere and our current power generating sources are already overloaded.

I recently saw the following commentary on the practical aspects of this subject and the comments of the unknown writer add to my concern.

‘I did some work for the body corporate at the Dock 5 Apartment Building in Docklands in Melbourne to see if we could install a small number of electric charging points for owners to charge their electric vehicles. We had our first three applications. We discovered:

  • Our building has no non- allocated parking spaces ie public ones. This is typical of most apartment buildings so we cannot provide shared outlets.
  • The power supply in the building was designed for the loads in the building with virtually no spare capacity. Only 5 or 6 chargers could be installed in total in a building with 188 apartments!!
  • How do you allocate them as they would add value to any apartment owning one. The shit fight started on day one with about 20 applications received 1st day and many more following.
  • The car park sub-boards cannot carry the extra loads of even one charger and would have to be upgraded on any floors with a charger as would the supply mains to each sub board.
  • The main switch board would then have to be upgraded to add the heavier circuit breakers for the sub mains upgrade and furthermore:
  • When Docklands was designed a limit was put on the number of apartments in each precinct and the mains and transformers in the streets designed accordingly. This means there is no capacity in the Docklands street grid for any significant quantity of car chargers in any building in the area.
  • It gets better. The whole CBD (Hoddle Grid, Docklands)and Southbank is fed by two sub stations. One in Port Melbourne and one in West Melbourne. This was done to have two alternate feeds in case one failed or was down for maintenance. Because of the growth in the city /Docklands and Southbank now neither one is now capable of supplying the full requirement of Melbourne zone at peak usage in mid- summer if the other is out of action. The Port Melbourne 66,000 volt feeder runs on 50 or 60 year old wooden power poles above ground along Dorcas Street South Melbourne. One is pole is located 40 cm from the corner Kerb at the incredibly busy Ferrars/St Dorcas St Intersection and is very vulnerable to being wiped out by a wayward vehicle.
  • The infrastructure expenditure required would dwarf the NBN cost excluding the new power stations required

These advocates of electric vehicles only by 2040 are completely bonkers. It takes 5-8 years to design and build a large coal fired power station like Loy Yang and even longer for a Nuclear one (That’s after you get the political will, permits and legislative changes needed). Wind and solar just cant produce enough. Tidal power might but that’s further away than nuclear

It’s just a greenies dream in the foreseeable future other than in small wealthy countries. It will no doubt ultimately come but not in the next 20 years’.