Guess What? Power Poles have Power! Tech Talk Column 318.

A friend visited me from Canberra recently. Several years earlier he had purchased a new AMG CLA45 compact performance car. Inline-4 turbo engine. Dual-clutch 8-speed automatic transmission. 4 seconds to 100km/h. And the exhaust was tuned so it sang beautifully. In sports mode when braking for a corner it did an automatic double-clutch that would have made Peter Brock proud. He was interested in comparing the driving experience of this zenith of internal combustion cars versus this idea of a golf-buggy. An electric vehicle (EV)!

After five seconds behind the wheel of an EV, his eyes had been opened. He was convinced this was the future. Sure, the stopwatch showed the EV had a better 0-100 time by less than a second but it just felt more responsive. Instant even. No waiting for turbos to spin up and pistons to start gaining momentum and gears to change. Just…instant.

He went home and put his car up for sale. He wanted an EV.

There are many reasons why people have not made the change to an EV yet. My friend had a problem that is not uncommon. Once he bought his EV, how would he charge it? If someone has access to off-street parking, it is relatively easy. Plug in to a power point or have a fast charger installed at your home. Then plug in as needed while your car is parked overnight.

NRMA estimates that eighty per cent of EV owners do the vast majority of their charging at home with the rest mainly charging at work. Only a small percentage charge at shopping centres or public chargers.

My friend had an issue. He lives in an apartment block with underground parking and there are no common power points available and no option for the installation of a fast charger. He was snookered!

He still sold the AMG but hasn’t yet bought an EV.

Well…the latest trial of charging infrastructure may help my friend as well as the twenty five per cent of people who live in metropolitan areas without access to off-street parking.

Most streets in metropolitan areas have power poles and streetlights running along the street. It is not surprising that both poles have access to electricity and people park their cars next to them. It almost seems too obvious for a charger to be installed on the power pole itself!

A trial is being rolled out across nine metropolitan Council areas in NSW with fifty EV chargers installed on power poles. The concept is not new. Tens of thousands of streetlight and power pole EV chargers are already in operation in London; Los Angeles; Hamburg and more.

Dedicated charging stations can be designed to deliver 350kW or more but you will often see some expensive hardware installed to deliver this amount of power.

The power running along a street was never designed to deliver this amount of power so the charging stations will typically be 7.4kW which will add charge to an EV battery at approximately 50 kilometres in an hour. These are not designed to be a quick stop and top up but more a place to charge when plugged in while at work or parked overnight.

Users will download an app, plug in their car and start charging. They will be able to check the charge levels and be notified when their charging session has been completed. Power will be 100 per cent GreenPower.

With the potential for 190,000 similar EV chargers to be installed via this method, my friend may not have to wait much longer before he can finally buy his EV!

Mathew Dickerson

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