Engie, the international energy giant best known in Australia for the abrupt closure of the Hazelwood brown coal generator in Victoria in late 2017, has unveiled plans to roll out more than 100 new electric vehicle fast charging stations in Australia and New Zealand as it accelerates its clean energy transition.
Engie, which describes itself as the largest independent power producer in the world and is in the process of a complete exit from coal and LNG, is one of five organisations that will receive funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency as part of efforts to boost the country’s EV charging infrastructure.
Its head of green mobility in Australia, Greg Schumann, told The Driven this week that it will target four key regions for its rollout – Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast, Newcastle in NSW; Melbourne and Geelong in Victoria; Brisbane, Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and Adelaide in South Australia.
ARENA will contribute around $6.8 million towards the cost of the $22 million project, which Schumann says marks the beginning of a major push by Engie to leverage its growing renewable energy capacity. All the EV chargers – to be installed by Jet Charge – will be powered by wind and solar.
Schumann says the EV charging stations – likely to include two bays delivering at least 50kW each – will be rolled out mostly at destinations such as shopping centres, but also along heavily used routes.
“In the future, you won’t go out to charge your car, you will charge your car when you’re out,” he says. “So we’re very much into locations that have got proximity to local amenities, they’re safe and secure, where you might be out shopping, doing a bit of traveling, etc.”
Engie says its goal is to deliver, own and maintain a large share of Australia’s EV charging infrastructure, a sign that traditional energy companies are looking at new ways to engage with consumers, which will be the centre of the clean energy transition.
“This initial roll-out typifies Engie’s approach to enabling Australia’s energy transition, namely leveraging existing infrastructure wherever possible and focusing on customer experiences, wants and needs,” the company says.
Schumann told The Driven podcast that Engie is also interested in vehicle-to-grid technologies, because of the potential of using the EV fleet to balance the grid.
“We’re certainly looking at how all that goes together with batteries and with solar,” he said.
The first Engie fast-charge point is expected to be switched on in early 2022, although Schumann would not reveal the exact location of the first charging point.
The other networks to be funded by ARENA include Evie Networks, which will install 158 stations across eight regions, Ampol, which will install 121 stations across four regions, Chargefox, which will install 16 stations across two regions, and Electric Highways Tasmania, which is aiming for five stations in that state.