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Scoping study for 'Renewables Highway' announced

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Electricity Networks Association today announced an initiative that could see New Zealand become one of the first countries in the world to have a complete network of charging locations for plug-in electric vehicles - covering the length of the country.

Chief Executive Graeme Peters said the ENA Board was excited about the potential of a ‘Renewables Highway’, providing charging infrastructure to support the uptake of plug-in electronic vehicles (EV) in New Zealand. "There’s now a lot of recognition that New Zealand is ‘EV-Ready’. We have an electricity supply that’s 80 percent renewable due to our abundance of hydro, geothermal and wind generation - accessing fuel that’s clean and home grown and at the equivalent of 30 cents per litre makes sense. New Zealand also has a high proportion of off-street parking, meaning most cars can be charged at home or at work, even from a standard three-pin plug." The ENA has formed a working group with other partners to undertake a scoping study to look at a co-ordinated approach to accessible public charging infrastructure. The study is expected to be completed by the end of July. The working group comprises representatives from lines companies along with Contact Energy, Mighty River Power and Drive Electric. Mr Peters said the group intends to also work closely with government agencies, such as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), and seek alignment with any wider government policy development in this area.

"The ‘Renewables Highway’ would potentially see a network of charging locations at key stopping points and tourism locations along State Highway 1, expanding to regional routes over time. This backbone could then encourage further charging infrastructure by other businesses including airports, retailers, supermarkets, tourist destinations and other places where people park their vehicles. "Though there is a relatively small number of EVs in New Zealand currently, the technology is advancing quickly and we expect demand will pick up strongly as the benefits of EVs become evident and behaviours change. EVs release no carbon emissions, save motorists’ money, increase our use of renewable energy, and reduce New Zealand’s reliance on peak oil. Some electricity distribution companies and energy-related businesses and are already actively involved in growing the availability of EV charging stations in convenient locations."

The ENA, the industry association which represents New Zealand’s 29 electricity distribution businesses, welcomes participation from other partners who wish to join the project, such as major tourism operators, local and regional councils, electricity generators, or others with an interest and the capability to participate in a rollout of the ‘Renewables Highway’.

Interested parties should contact the Electricity Networks Association.

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