charging stations

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Which format will prevail?

Most plugs used to charge cars at home use the slow alternate current (AC). Therefore, building a network that can charge vehicles quickly when on the road is key, given many potential consumers still worry about battery range.

The fastest DC stations, capable of delivering up to 400 kilowatts, can recharge cars within 10 minutes, a vast improvement on the 10-12 hours it can take to reload at some AC charging points today.

There are currently four major standards for electric vehicle (EV) chargers that will supercharge batteries:

  • Tesla’s Supercharger system.
  • CCS, favoured by Europe, BMW, Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler, Ford and the Volkswagen group, which includes Audi and Porsche.
  • CHAdeMo or Charge de Move, developed by Japanese firms, including Nissan and Mitsubishi.
  • GB/T in China, the world’s biggest EV market.

“I think over time CHAdeMO and CCS will converge, likely into the current CCS standard, and the jury is out as to what will happen to Tesla,” said Pasquale Romano, chief executive officer of Silicon Valley-based ChargePoint, which runs one of the world’s largest charging station networks.

So far, there are about 7,000 CCS charging points worldwide, according to CharIN, with more than half in Europe.

The European Union backs CCS as the standard for fast-charging but does not prohibit other plugs being installed.

In New Zealand, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) recommends both the CHAdeMo DC and CCS connector types in order achieve compatibility across public charging stations. 

Source: NZTA

Globally, there are 16,639 charge points compatible with CHAdeMO – mostly in Japan and Europe – and 8,496 Tesla Superchargers, with the majority in the United States.

In China, there are 127,434 GB/T charging stations, according to the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance.

Tesla’s system is exclusive to its clients, for example, while CCS features a double-plug that can charge DC and AC, increasing the number of spots where drivers can recharge.

CHAdeMO allows cars to sell power from their batteries back to the grid, a process known as bi-directional charging that can help stabilise energy networks in times of demand swings and earn car owners some extra cash.

CCS fast-chargers has also teamed up with companies that have service station networks in Europe: Shell, OMV, Germany’s Tank & Rast and retailer Circle K.

For now, CCS, Supercharger and CHAdeMO plugs continue to be installed in Europe as well as the United States, while China is pressing ahead with GB/T, suggesting it is too early to call a winner in the plug wars – especially as no carmaker will want to lose out on the Chinese market.

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New Electric Charging Partnership

ChargeNet New Zealand and Aurora Energy are partnering together to extend a charging network for electric vehicles in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown lakes.

Aurora Energy is New Zealand’s seventh largest electricity network by customer connections, supplying electricity to more than 88,000 homes, farms and businesses in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.

ChargeNet NZ is the only organisation installing a nationwide network of rapid charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. It is also the largest privately owned and operated DC fast charger network in the Southern Hemisphere. The partnership will mean faster growth in the Southern region.

“The Otago region is one of the most active regions in the country in terms of embracing electric vehicles, and we are keen to support electric vehicle owners through this partnership with Aurora Energy,” said Nick Smith, Chief Operating Officer of ChargeNet NZ.

The agreement between the two organisations means an upgrade to the existing charger in Filleul St, Dunedin, to a Tritium charger supplied by ChargeNet. Other sites around the Dunedin CBD are also being considered for new installations.

“Extending the Dunedin and surrounding offerings is an important step in bolstering our ever-growing nationwide network of fast chargers and will be a game changer for both local and visiting electric vehicle owners.”

“The sites will complement the existing infrastructure in the Aurora Energy network, including Wanaka and Alexandra, and other installations underway in Queenstown and Roxburgh.”

“With most electric vehicles taking between six to eight hours to charge via a domestic power point, one of the challenges has been the ability to charge them when away from home, but the fast charge network which we are putting in place will allow electric vehicle owners to charge a vehicle in less than 25 minutes,” he says.

Aurora Energy is also delighted in the partnership as it will allow vehicle owners in Dunedin and wider Otago region greater confidence to make the move to driving electric said Grady Cameron, Chief Executive of Aurora Energy.

“We expect the new partnership will support further electric vehicle uptake across our network area and encourage even more people to make the switch to electric vehicles.

“Since Aurora Energy installed the South Island’s first public fast charging station in February 2016, the number of electric vehicles in Otago has increased from 50 to 225. Nationwide, the growth in electric vehicles has been exponential with 5,400 now registered in New Zealand, up from just 500 three years ago.

“Electric vehicles are an increasingly attractive option for New Zealand drivers and are cheaper, cleaner and quieter to run than traditional petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles,” added Mr Cameron.

There are 57 chargers connected to ChargeNet’s network nationwide, at 30 November 2017 and they aim to have over 105 stations by the end of 2018.

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Gisborne to get its first EV charger

Gisborne is about to get its very first EV charging station. The station, supplied by Eastland Group, will be located on Gladstone Road, the city’s main street.

The charger is expected to be installed by the end of July.

“We’re excited about this next step in opening up the region to electric vehicles,” said Eastland Group business development general manager Gavin Murphy.

Murphy also said charging will be free until the end of 2017.

“People may wonder why we’re doing this now, when there are still only a few EVs and hybrids in the region,” he said.

“EVs are cheap for owners to run and, because they operate on 80% renewable energy in this country, they help reduce carbon emissions.”

“The positive economic, environmental and tourism benefits are potentially huge.”

EV registrations have hit a total of 3,576 as of May, up 156 per cent compared to May 2016. At its current rate, however, growth is below the target of 64,000 EVs on New Zealand roads by 2021.

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Z to install charge stations

Three more fast charging stations will be installed at Z Energy service stations by the end of April in a joint project with ChargeNet NZ.

The new charging stations will be built in Warkworth, Turangi and Taupo, and join six currently installed at Z service stations in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

“Having more charging stations will make an electric vehicle a more appealing option for people, by stopping them worrying they’ll get stuck without power,” says sustainability manager Jonathan Hill.

One 25-minute charge will fill up an entry-level EV such as a Nissan Leaf or Hyundai Ioniq and allow for a further 120km of travel.

Electric charging at Z service stations saved an estimated 20 tonnes of CO2 last year, the equivalent of a medium-sized petrol car taking over 130 trips between Auckland and Wellington, Z says.

“At this rate we will soon have charging stations every 40 to 80kms on the main highway, and Z is helping make this possible,” said ChargeNet CEO Steve West.

ChargeNet aims to make the State Highway 1 between Auckland and Wellington ‘electric’ – capable of being driven by an EV without running out of power between charging stations – by the end of 2018.

According to map website PlugShare, New Zealand has 64 fast-charging stations which are either installed or in development.

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