If you’ve ever wondered what a fossil-fuel free service station sign would like, the South Australian Liberal government has created a visual prompt to help you.
The prompt, which appeared in a government paper on EV charging infrastructure, dispenses altogether with fossil-based petrol and diesel, imagining a future where all you can pump into your car at a highway servo is green electricity or bio-diesel.
SA Premier Steven Marshall’s government has gone all-in on EVs, and wants them to be the “default” vehicle by 2030, by which time the state aims to reach “net 100 per cent renewables”. As part of this plan, it released a document this week calling for private EV charging companies to bid to help it build out its planned state-wide network of fast and rapid charge points.
The document contained a mocked-up image of the signs on the road outside service stations that advertise the price of petrol and diesel. Instead of the usual prices for unleaded and diesel petrol, this mock-up contained just three prices: peak EV charge price, off-peak charge price, and bio-diesel.
The imagined prices for EV charging – presumably in cents per kilowatt hour – were 65 cents for peak hour charging from 5am to 9am and 5pm to 9pm, and 45 cents for the rest of the time. Bio-diesel, a renewable (though often environmentally dubious) alternative to petro-diesel made from crops like rapeseed, soybeans or other vegetable oils, was advertised at $1.50, presumably per litre.
The SA government was eager to stress that the product mix and prices were purely for “illustrative purposes”. But it gives you a succinct idea of where the SA government sees things are heading.
A key part of the plan is for ultra-rapid charging stations – i.e. 100 kilowatts or more – to be installed at highway service stations across the state.
While the switch from petrol to electric vehicles is obviously going to massively disrupt the existing service station model, the SA government argued there could benefits as well as costs, at least to retailers – though it’s a line of argument that motorists-in-a-hurry might find upersuasive.
Even ultra-rapid charging stations that may take only 10 minutes, will still take longer than filling up a tank of petrol, and the document argues this could have benefits for on-site retailers – a feature it called “shop and charge”.
That’s even more true for slower charge points (i.e. “rapid” rather than “ultra-rapid” chargers that take 40 minutes to an hour) in shopping centre and supermarket car parks.
“If rapid charging is integrated into South Australians’ daily lifestyles at key destinations, the stopover will not only allow more time to enjoy activities; it will become productive,” the document said.
“Retailers are already seeing longer average dwell times and spends at hubs where there are multiple EV charge points, providing businesses with a distinct competitive customer attraction advantage. Additionally, shopping in busy periods often coincides with high renewable electricity generation and low consumer demand periods on the South Australian electricity network.”
James Fernyhough is a reporter at RenewEconomy and The Driven. He has worked at The Australian Financial Review and the Financial Times, and is interested in all things related to climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.