The state of Queensland, in Australia, known for its tropical climate and 337 days of sunshine every year, is now home to a burgeoning electric vehicle industry.
Australia - the hot place
With an international reputation as one of the world's best holiday destinations, Australia is known for its famous beaches, surfing, sun, leisure, and vacation hot spots.
Best known locations include Sydney, Melbourne, Uluru, Kakadu, and of course Darwin, named after Charles Darwin, the British geologist and biologist, famous for his contributions to the science of evolution.
Beyond tourism, Australia is known for its educational sector, featuring leading universities and schools, including Griffith University, consistently ranked in the Top 5% of universities worldwide.
Queensland - the Sunshine State
The state of Queensland is located in the north-eastern quadrant of Australia's land mass, and occupies 1.8 million square kilometers.
With its tropical climate, 337 days of sunshine per year, and hot temperatures, it is home to amazing beaches, surfing, fishing, tourist resorts, theme parks, rainforests, and cultural attractions. Most of the population live close to the ocean borders, or within 200km of the sea.
The remainder of the state is home to agriculture, mining, power generation, and desert landscapes.
Since 2012, the State Government has put a strong focus on renewable energy and resources. The resources sector, currently composed of mining for coal, iron ore, rare earth metals, lead, zinc, bauxite, and silver. The State Government is keen to diversify the resources sector, and attract new private investment in emerging technologies.
With its abundant sunshine, solar technologies are a natural fit for the state.
The State and Federal Governments have introduced programmes for home solar panel installation, home battery energy storage, rain water storage, and are funding the rollout of many electric initiatives.
As the population grows, and pressure builds on retail energy supply, utilising sunshine and solar power are sensible means by which to mitigate a sudden rise in demand for electricity for homes and businesses.
Queensland - home to the Electric Super Highway
In 2018, the State Government launched a programme to develop the Electric Super Highway, a programme aimed at providing electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the state.
This programme resulted in the world's largest stretch of electric-accessible road transport in a single state.
While other vehicle networks such as the Tesla Supercharger network in the United States and Europe are larger, they are spread across many states in the US, and across many countries in Europe. Queensland is home to the longest stretch of continuous electric-driven roadway in one state.
The government programme has attracted a growing list of electric vehicle startups, battery developers, alternative energy startups, and bigger companies with a new focus on alternative energy, to set up headquarters, or new research facilities, in Queensland.
The biggest of these is South Korean car brand Hyundai.
Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey, said it was no surprise Hyundai decided to hold the national launch here as Queensland is fast becoming known as the Australian hot spot for electric vehicles.
Mr Bailey said the State Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, recently visited Hyundai’s headquarters in South Korea to see electric and hydrogen-powered vehicle technology and was able to drive the NEXO, Hyundai’s Motor’s hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle.
“These technologies complement the Palaszczuk Government’s electric vehicle strategy, which identifies 16 initiatives to help shift Queensland to an environmentally friendly EV fleet,” he said.
The government will also be launching a Queensland Hydrogen Strategy next year.
Mr Bailey said Queensland’s Electric Vehicle Superhighway was powered by super-fast charging stations supplied by Tritium.
“The fact that drivers can travel approximately 1,800km, from Coolangatta to Cairns, using the latest EV charging technology gave Hyundai the impetus it needed to invest into bringing its IONIQ electric vehicle to Australia, and choosing Queensland as its launchpad into the Australian market,” Mr Bailey said.
“Tritium is changing the face of the global EV industry and is a great home-grown Queensland success story.”
Member for Bulimba Di Farmer said funding under the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland initiatives helped Tritium establish their headquarters and main manufacturing plant here at Murarrie.
Tritium develops and exports charging stations for electric vehicles.
“Tritium employs more than 250 staff and exports to 26 countries is now powering electric vehicles around the globe,” she said.
“Tritium was also recently named the Premier of Queensland’s Exporter of the Year and we are hoping the company will also be successful in the National Export Awards 2018, being held in Canberra tonight.”
Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey, said the electric vehicle industry was the perfect example of how Queensland can prepare for the jobs of the future.
While Queensland is one of the largest exporters of coal in the world, the state has almost unlimited access to another natural resource - sunshine.
Large unpopulated areas of the state are undergoing renewal as companies explore possibilities for renewable energy projects such as solar farms, wind farms, hydroelectricity, and battery storage.
Looking south, the neighbouring state of New South Wales (NSW) is the largest producer of electricity in Australia, using its coal reserves to power public and private coal-fired power stations, producing electricity en-mass. NSW is also home to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric scheme, and the newer Snowy Two scheme.
Further south again, the states of Victoria and South Australia, with their colder climates, rely on gas for cooking and heating, and electricity for lighting and power. Both states have recently suffered outages for days, weeks, or months. South Australia has become host to the first utility-scale Tesla backup battery system in the world, capable of responding to power cuts within milliseconds, and providing backup power to the grid.
Queensland has much greater access to land and sunshine than the southern states, and it would make enormous sense for solar and battery power to become a future directive.
While we're talking about the southern state of Victoria and South Australia, both have recently suffered the loss of major employers in the region.
Between 2016 and 2018, General Motors, Ford, and Toyota have all closed their vehicle manufacturing facilities in Australia, and the supply chain partners for those factories have laid of large number of of workers.
These vehicle manufacturing sites are now empty, and the local supply chain is still in place to supply parts.
There will soon be an opportunity for manufacturers to make use of this space.
Companies such as Tesla and their direct electric competitors would be wise to evaluate the possibility of occupying the former GM, Ford, and Toyota factories, re-engaging the supply chain, and producing electric vehicles in Australia.
Until next time,
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