‘It’d be great to hear an Australian utility announce a strategic plan for EVs’


It would be great to hear an Australian utility announce a strategic plan for EVs along the lines of what is being done by DTE Energy in Michigan or PG&E in California says Kristian Handberg, Project Manager – Low Emission Vehicles, at the Australian Department of Transport.  “I’d give it maybe another 2 to 3 years, but maybe I’ll be proven wrong” says Kristian who was speaking in the run-up to the upcoming Smart Utilities Australia and New Zealand conference and exhibition in Sydney from 8-10 November.

Kristian Handberg will give an update on the Victoria Electric Vehicle Trial and share his insight and experience at the event during which Australia and New Zealand’s top utility professionals will particularly focus on e-mobility and smart grid developments and feature real life practical insights based on recent trial results and lessons learnt from the region and abroad.

Victoria Government EV Trial
With regards to the Victoria Governments Electric Vehicle (EV) Trial, he says the Victoria Government Trial has effectively doubled the EV population on Victorian roads:  “that said, the total Victorian EV population would be less than 100 vehicles, making them rare birds indeed.”  He continues:  “indirectly the Vic Govt Trial is making EVs a viable option for Victorian motorists. Over 600 Victorians have had the opportunity to sample EV technology first-hand through the test drive events we’ve run.  According to our driver surveys, the number of people who would drive an EV as their regular car rose from 44 to 70 per cent as a result of their test drive experience.”

EV trail on track
Kristian Handberg says the Trial is on track in terms of vehicle and charging infrastructure delivery into households and fleets.  He explains:  “the delivery of public charging infrastructure is slightly behind where we thought we’d be by now, but identifying the issues that have delayed the rollout are in themselves part of what the Trial all about.  As a result of these learnings potential solutions have been identified that are being tested for the benefit of future market development.  And with a large number of strongly-engaged project participants from across the emerging EV market, the Trial is exceeding expectations in terms of addressing market barriers and coordination issues.”

Victorian Trail significant as a market model
How does the Victorian initiative rate in comparison to similar projects internationally?   According to Handberg the Victoria Trial is significant but not a stand-out internationally.   He notes:  “By way of example, the big daddy of trials worldwide is being run in the U.S. with around 8000 vehicles taking part.  The Victoria Trial is, however, notable in being a market model rather than proprietary.  In plain English, this means we’ve got multiple providers from each level of the EV market, each delivering their own technology and business model. The benefits of this approach are many – it providers a level playing field for all market participants rather than creating a position of market power at the outset, it avoids conclusions relating to the entire market being drawn from the experiences provided by a single technology or business model, and it allows market coordination issues to be identified and addressed.  It does however create a significant administrative overhead in terms of delivery and complexity, so it’s not without its costs.”

Government support
With regards to government support Kristian Handberg says, “if the industry is to be believed, government support is critical for future EV market success.  With specific reference to the Trial, the Victoria government is playing the role of “honest broker” in the formative stages of the market development.  This allows the market participants to test and refine their business models in a relatively low cost/risk operating environment.  And in taking a coordinated approach with the delivery of policy and technical standards development initiatives, Victoria Government is taking a key role in promoting a safe, efficient rollout of a resilient EV market.”

More speaker highlights at Smart Utilities Australia and New Zealand include:

  • George Maltabarow, Managing Director, Ausgrid, Australia
  • Joerg Lohr, Senior Manager E-Mobility. RWE Effizienz, Germany
  • Patrick Hayes, Engineering Director, Glendale Water and Power, USA
  • Belinda Jones, Manager Retail Operations, Hunter Water Corporation, Australia
  • Inji Choi, Researcher, Kepco, Korea
  • Donny Helm, Director Technology Strategy & Architecture, Oncor Electric Delivery, USA
  • Ari Sargent, CEO, Powershop, Australia
  • Christine Wright, Senior Market Analyst Competitive Markets Division, Public Utility Commission of Texas, USA
  • Thomas R. Brill, Director, Strategic Analysis, Southern California Gas USA Company, San Diego Gas and Electric, USA

Event dates and location:
8 – 10 November 2011, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Sydney, Australia

Event website:  www.smartutilities-ausnz.com