ACT News

ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell signals new push on electric cars in Canberra

Environment Minister Simon Corbell has signalled a rollout of recharging stations for electric cars in his efforts to deal with rising greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

Mr Corbell said the government was talking to  ActewAGL about battery charging points across the territory and on key interstate roads, including the roads to Sydney and the South Coast, to give people  the confidence to buy electric cars.

Electric cars: The ACT is looking to roll out recharging points throughout the city.
Electric cars: The ACT is looking to roll out recharging points throughout the city. 

He did not give details about how many charging points and at what cost, or who would pay, but he said ActewAGL was willing to invest.

"We will need to focus much more strongly on emissions coming from the transport sector ... and electric vehicles have to be part of that response," he said.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell: With renewable energy well in hand, the focus is shifting to electric cars.
Environment Minister Simon Corbell: With renewable energy well in hand, the focus is shifting to electric cars. Photo: Rohan Thomson

"... ActewAGL is very supportive of looking at investments it can make to bring forward battery charging across the city."

Mr Corbell released a review of the government's progress on its 2012 action plan on climate change.

The ACT has one of the most ambitious renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets of any city, aiming for 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020 and greenhouse gas emissions at 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. In 2014-15, 18.5 per cent of the city's energy came from renewables, and emissions were 24 per cent higher than in 1989-90.

The review, released on Monday, said the renewables target was on track, but predicted that the territory would fall slightly short of its greenhouse gas target, largely because of emissions from transport and waste.

Electricity accounts for the lion's share at the moment, making up 58 per cent of the territory's emissions. But with Mr Corbell having signed deals with three solar farms and three wind farms, and with more wind farms in the pipeline, electricity emissions are predicted to fall to just 14 per cent of the overall share. 

Transport will be the big emitter in 2020, responsible for 54 per cent of the city's emissions, with waste in second place at 18 per cent.

The tram is one plank of the plan to reduce transport emissions, as is a long-awaited car-sharing system, but the review says the promised low emission vehicle strategy is still under development.

Also yet to be achieved  is the "zero emissions buildings" strategy, which was to have been written by this year. Another project, to retrofit 30 homes with solar storage as "living laboratories, "  was abandoned when it failed to win Australian Renewable Energy Agency funding. 

Nor would the city achieve a carbon neutral waste sector by 2020, as planned. The government has been investigating turning waste into energy and new facilities to separate and recycle waste, but the review says the delay in these projects means that emissions from waste will continue rising in the meantime, in line with the population.

Mr Corbell said the government would shortly announce new waste management rules to help build a  much more detailed picture of the waste being sent to landfill.

To reduce electricity emissions, the government has also been replacing halogen downlights with LEDs in people's homes and making other household energy improvements. It says a household with 52 LED downlights can save $361 a year on its power bill, and 0.79 tonnes of CO2.

The cost of the scheme to the taxpayer in 2014-15 was $36.61 for an average household. The average saving for households who took part in the energy efficiency scheme was $207. Across all households, the average saving was $67.

The one operational solar farm cost households an average of $23.14 in 2014-15, a cost set to rise as more solar and wind farms come on line, and peak at $243 per household in 2020.

The review suggests that the government consider changing its base year for greenhouse gas reduction target in line with a recommendation from the Climate Change Council to switch the base year from 1990 to 2005, bringing it into line with national targets. The council recommended a new target of a 55-70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 2005 levels by 2025.