Government funding to help close gaps in South Island’s electric vehicle charging network

The government wants to install fast chargers every 75 km on New Zealand's national highways.  (File photo)

LIBBY WILSON/Stuff

The government wants to install fast chargers every 75 km on New Zealand’s national highways. (File photo)

Key gaps in the South Island’s public electric vehicle charging network will be closed, as the government moves closer to its goal of fast charging every 75 kilometers on New Zealand’s highways.

Energy Minister Megan Woods has announced funding of just over $1 million from the Low Emissions Transportation Fund (LETF) to install EV chargers in “strategically targeted” locations.

Five new locations in the West Coast and Tasman regions – Kohatu, Haast, Harihari, St Arnaud and Springs Junction – will receive new fast chargers, supported by Meridian Energy.

In a statement, Woods said this was to ensure there was good charging coverage in the South Island.

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“[These sites] represent some of the most challenging sites in New Zealand to install electric vehicle chargers, with power grid constraints and lower traffic volumes.

But they would largely achieve the government’s goal of providing fast chargers to the public at 75km intervals along New Zealand’s national highways.

“These locations are on some of our popular tourist routes, giving travelers and locals the confidence to pick up their electric vehicle and enjoy the scenic drive without risking getting stranded,” Woods said.

“Being more remote, they have presented unique challenges to potential charging providers, so I am delighted that this public good funding government assistance will allow them to cross the line.”

MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

A Stuff reporter takes an electric vehicle on a long journey from Wellington to Napier to test our charging network.

Meridian Energy Ltd will install 10 chargers in total as part of its national charger rollout.

The two in Haast will help fill a network gap between Wānaka and Franz Josef, while two in Harihari would fill the gap between Fox Glacier and Westport.

Two chargers at St Arnaud will allow EV users easier access to Lake Rotoiti and Blenheim, while chargers at Springs Junction – backed by battery energy storage systems – will help eliminate a key black spot charging infrastructure.

The chargers are expected to be available from May 2023.

Energy Minister Megan Woods said the new chargers will help fill gaps on some major South Island tourist routes.  (File photo)

LAWRENCE SMITH / Stuff

Energy Minister Megan Woods said the new chargers will help fill gaps on some major South Island tourist routes. (File photo)

The LETF is contributing $1.07 million, while Meridian will invest $756,782.

“Meridian provided a robust solution, with two fast chargers at each site to provide redundancy,” Woods said.

“They thought outside the box to provide both value for money and viable technical solutions, including the battery storage system at Springs Junction, the first of its kind in New Zealand.”

Successful applicants to a separate round of LETF funding – for vehicle and technology projects – will be announced in the coming months, with other rounds opening later in the year.

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