EV Charging in Strata – WA’s State of Play

Australia is in the early stages of electrifying our road transport network. This process is broadly recognised to be a key step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions to safer levels. The Federal Government is drafting a ‘National Electric Vehicle Strategy’ aiming to provide Australians better access to modern road transport technology and ensure infrastructure and industries are ready to support the transition.

Vehicle manufacturers are racing towards a monumental shift from Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) to Electric Vehicles (EV).

The WA Government are providing grants to encourage businesses to install EV Charging equipment at the workplace. However, currently these ‘Charge Up Workplace EV Charging Grants’ do not include for the strata residential sector.

Less focus has been placed on electrifying our privately owned strata carparks, “the home of the stationary car” which most would acknowledge is the most convenient and practical location for EV charging.

The National Construction Code has been recently changed to mandate that all new apartment developments be built with access to EV charging in the car park. This is being rolled out nationally but may take some time to be adopted in Western Australia.

Provisioning for EV in new strata developments is quite straight forward, however retrofitting EV charging stations in existing properties is a new and potentially complex process for strata communities.

“Body corporates are trying to work out how to handle requests for installing individual EV chargers while looking for an equitable charging and billing solution for all lot owners.”

Provisioning brownfield strata schemes to become “EV ready” involves a range of new technologies, infrastructure modifications and changes to management practices. A comprehensive process of investigation, preparation, planning and provisioning needs to be followed to make sure that the electrical infrastructure is adequate and electrical capacity available to enable the successful integration of EV charging systems into our private electrical networks.

As more and more residents are driving their new EV’s into their strata complexes for the first time, we at Energy-Tec work with Strata Managers and Body Corporates to develop and implement equitable “EV ready” solutions which includes integrating these systems into the energy accounting process.

The primary options being offered to strata residences are either, Electric Vehicle Charging (EVC) as a service or private ownership. Financially it is beneficial for Strata schemes to own and operate their EV charging solutions, as the electricity pricing can be much cheaper and more convenient. This way they maintain ownership of the infrastructure and will have control over the energy billing solution. Handing over to a third party EVC provider, means the third party will benefit by being in control of the energy pricing and will gain on sell profits.

Analysing the many options available including the location of chargers, cost to residents, equitable billing solutions and available funding mechanisms is directly impacted by the energy network configuration of a strata scheme. Properties configured as Embedded Networks, especially where the scheme owns the meter infrastructure, can benefit the most compared to sites configured as multi master meter networks.

EVC Implementation Guides are emerging from peak body groups such as the EV Council of Australia and the SCA’s National “Strata Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Taskforce” (SEVIT). SEVIT have produced a state of play report and will soon publish a second phase report, outlining the challenges of deploying EV’s into Strata.

These guides are important tools for Strata Managers and Council of Owners in understanding how to engage in the investigation, preparation, planning, provisioning and funding phases.

With the absence of guidance, funding and focus from the State Government regarding EV charging in the strata sector; it is important that the industry is proactive and works together to drive initiatives and implement solutions that are fair and equitable.

“As the popularity of electric vehicles increases, EV charging will increasingly be valued by owners and tenants of strata schemes.”

There is a pathway and many opportunities for retrofitting existing properties so that they can offer EV charging facilities in line with many new developments. The WA property sector and specifically, the Strata Sector can play a massive role in supporting climate change by becoming part of the electrification revolution.