he first electric fast charger has been installed on the remote Nullarbor, described as one of the final frontiers for Australia’s growing number of battery-powered vehicles.
- Caiguna Roadhouse is 1,091km east of Perth and 1,634km west of Adelaide
- It is now home to the remote Nullarbor’s first fast charger for electric vehicles
- Plans by the WA and SA governments for electric highways left out the Nullarbor
Caiguna Roadhouse, one of 10 outback roadhouses dotted along a 910-kilometre stretch of the Eyre Highway, has become the first to embrace electric vehicles with a carbon-neutral charger.
The installation powered by vegetable oil — used to fry food like hot chips — comes more than a decade after what many motoring enthusiasts say was the first known crossing by an electric vehicle.
The $75,000 Biofil system was crowd-funded and plugs a 720km gap between proposed fast chargers in Western Australia and South Australia.
It was invented by retired Perth mechanical engineer Jon Edwards and means electric motorists can recharge their vehicles in less than an hour instead of needing to stay overnight.
Jon Edwards pours used cooking oil from the roadhouse into the fast-charging system. (ABC Goldfields: Jarrod Lucas)
The average number of EVs crossing the Nullarbor over the last five years is five per year,” Mr Edwards said.
“Once these guys [electric vehicle owners] know there is fast charging, they will start making plans for trips.
“I’m expecting that to be 20 ,or even 40, within 12 months or so.”
It typically takes about 20 litres of oil to charge a car and Caiguna Roadhouse has now begun stockpiling the waste product.
The oil used by roadhouse chef Franklin Wall will be recycled for the charger.(ABC Goldfields: Jarrod Lucas)
‘Better to be on the front foot’
Troy Pike, who manages the Caiguna, Cocklebiddy and Madura roadhouses, said he initially thought it was a joke when he heard the proposal.
But he now believes it is only a matter of time before banks of fast chargers are installed along Australia’s Highway 1.
“I think it’s absolutely great, it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
“Being a fuel man, selling diesel and petrol, it’s going to end sometime and it’s better to be on the front foot than the back foot.
“It’s an evolving thing and it’s snowballing quite largely around the world.