The Queensland Government is calling for expressions of interest to build Australia’s first solar powered fast-charging station for electric vehicles in Townsville. This facility will be the first in a string of similar facilities stretching 1600km between Cairns and Brisbane. The Government is seeking applications from parties interested in partnering with the government to build, own and operate this innovative facility.

On Saturday 25 July 2015, Ms Coralee O’Rourke (Minister assisting the QLD Premier on Northern Queensland) announced that the Queensland Government would establish a string of fast charging facilities for electric vehicles between Cairns and Brisbane.

The first of these facilities will be established in Townsville and the Queensland Government is now seeking expressions of interest from parties interested in establishing this facility.

“Our vision is for this to be the start of an electric superhighway” Ms O’Rourke said on Saturday.

Ms O’Rourke went on to say that the project “is a really exciting initiative for Townsville – and could pave the way for a new era in Australia’s motoring history”.

The project is an innovative response to the challenge of creating facilities for the fast-charging of electric vehicles beyond the fringe of Australia’s capital cities. Most importantly, the proposal addresses the key challenges associated with the establishment of fast-charging facilities for electric vehicles in Australia.

Past attempts at establishing networks of electric vehicle recharging facilities have struggled in both New South Wales and Victoria. These programmes sought to provide first generation recharging infrastructure at stand-alone locations, requiring utilisation of public land (e.g. kerbside parking) or purchase of land solely for the purpose of recharging electric vehicles, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

The problems of this approach were the high cost of the land – relative to any income that could be earned – and the inability to assign responsibility for the safe operation and proper maintenance of the infrastructure given that these facilities were unmanned.

The Queensland Government’s solution to these problems is to locate fast-charge facilities on the forecourt of a traditional service station, meaning that electricity is simply treated as another form of transport energy that can be purchased at a service station together with conventional forms of transport energy.

“Most importantly, it means that the operator of the service station can oversee the maintenance and safe use of these fast-charge facilities”, said Mark

This first site makes provision for two vehicles to be charged simultaneously with a typical charge time between 15 and 30 minutes. When situated along a highway, as is being proposed by the government, the electric vehicle facilities will provide the opportunity for vehicle owners to charge their vehicles as part of a scheduled rest-stop – and take advantage of food and convenience facilities available on the site.

It is envisaged that electric recharging infrastructure will be charged by solar infrastructure installed on the canopy of the new site, which will also provide an opportunity for the operator to save on electricity costs – one of the three highest costs associated with the operation of a traditional fuel retail outlet.

“This is an exciting development for our industry and ACAPMA has been working with the Government in recent months to provide guidance on the issues that need to be addressed to ensure safe installation of electric vehicle recharging infrastructure on Australia’s service station forecourts, said Mark.

The Queensland Government has released an Information Memorandum for parties interested in the purchase of this site and a copy of this document can be obtained by clicking here.

Expressions of Interest in the sale close at 4pm on Thursday, 10 September 2015 and all contact information is provided in the Information Memorandum.