Australia’s EV infrastructure dilemma: the downfall of the wait and see approach

29 November 2018 Consultancy.com.au

Electric vehicle adoption in Australia is far behind that of Western Europe, Developed Asia or North America. As the country’s leaders continue the discussion in Canberra about whether or not coal is the future of energy, Australia’s electricity grid continues suffers from a policy vacuum. With a lack of leadership in the future of energy, Australia is likely to face issues as electric vehicle adoption ramps up.

They say that the only constant factor in life is change, death and taxes. But for some reason, Australia is afraid of change. Perhaps due to the lack of inheritance taxes, Australians often claim that they cannot afford to change their behaviour. However the world is changing and with it Australia must adapt or face an uphill battle later. After all, a dollar today will be worth more tomorrow and fixing anything isn’t getting any cheaper.

This warning shined through in the latest report by global management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting in conjunction with Australian EV charging infrastructure company Tritium. The report, titled “Preparing the Grid for the Uptake of Electric Vehicles”, states the importance of planning in energy network management for the increased power usage due to EVs.

A lack of direct government initiatives has left Australia directionless when it comes to adoption of EVs. As more electric vehicles become available and expand their presence in the market, the more stress will be put on the already complicated – to put it lightly – energy grid. According to the consulting firm, there could be a surge of up to 30% during peak demand in an unmanaged local grid scenario with 50% adoption.

Australia’s EV infrastructure dilemma; the downfall of the wait and see approach

Such a scenario – 50% adoption – admits the report will take time to eventuate. However, and as is the case with most new technologies, adoption happens in clusters. The majority of electric vehicle drivers in Australia are centralised in inner city pockets of capital cities, with waterside Sydneysiders the main culprits. Coupled with a lack of public charging stations, it is likely that most EV owners will charge at home.

“If utilities are not proactive in managing or incentivising residential charging in lower-demand times, localised peak demand will increase. Owning an EV will increase a household’s electricity consumption by about 50%.5 If multiple houses on a single street decide to charge simultaneously, there may be insufficient capacity in the feeder lines to deliver the required level of power,” states the report.

“The real challenge for utilities is managing the peak demand increase and greater unpredictability that comes with greater EV adoption,” says Natasha Santha, principal at L.E.K. Consulting. “EV charging has an element of randomness that needs to be managed; this can stress local infrastructure and heighten the need for increased network investment.”

“Utilities have a tremendous opportunity to drive growth in their businesses – but they have to be prepared for it and that means putting the right infrastructure in place to manage an increase in energy demand.” 
– David Finn, CEO and co-founder, Tritium

Whilst adoption will continue to be slow in Australia, it must be noted that by 2030, a fifth of all vehicle sales around the globe will be electric. Just like the roll-out of renewable energy, political backlash won’t prevent EVs from being commercially competitive in Australia. To be proactive in planning for the future, EVs must be taken into account by utility operators if the government fails to take initiative.

“There are significant opportunities for network owners, operators and energy retailers as EVs are one of the few growth drivers for many developed energy markets, and also enable the opportunity for utilities to build closer customer relationships,” she says. “But utilities need to be proactive in planning for a future scenario of significant EV adoption, especially in a world where spending capex on additional infrastructure at the cost of the consumer is no longer a palatable response.

Laying the foundations for EVs will take time, investment and leadership. “The good news is that we have time to prepare in Australia. Given the expected pace of adoption, and time it will take to turn over the car parc, grid owners have sufficient time to prepare for the change,” said Santha. The downfall will be that if no party takes responsibility, development will likely be ad hoc and sporadic, almost akin to ailments of the the national energy grid.

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European sustainability consultancy Sustainalize enters Australia

04 February 2019 Consultancy.com.au

A consulting firm from the Netherlands, Sustainalize, has made a foray into Australia’s professional services market. The sustainability consultancy has brought Aussie national Amy White on board to lead the local operation.

Founded in 2010 in the Netherlands, Sustainalize supports clients with sustainability, environmental, social & governance (ESG), and corporate social responsibility (CSR) services. Since its inception, the consultancy firm has seen strong growth, growing into a team of over 35 consultants across offices in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

“And we’re not done growing,” said Nick de Ruiter last year in discussion with Dutch consulting platform, Consultancy.nl, hinting at the next prospect around the corner. Now, roughly one year after pushing into Germany, the firm has taken its international expansion to the next continental level with the launch of an office in Melbourne. “This is a great opportunity to build upon our experience in Europe and to explore new opportunities in another part of the world,” explained PwC-alumnus De Ruiter.

The firm’s venture into Australia builds on the crossing of paths of two developments. In sync with a global trend, sustainability consulting services are in high-demand among organisations in Australia, with the segment one of the faster growing areas within the country’s US$5 billion management consulting market. Particularly heavy industry players such as mining and industrials, and larger corporations are facing a pressing agenda for green reform. “We are looking forward to support Australian companies and institutions advance their sustainability agenda.”European sustainability consultancy Sustainalize enters AustraliaMeanwhile, a “great opportunity” opened up, De Ruiter said, when he discovered that Amy White – an experienced sustainability expert – was relocating to Australia to pursue her next career move. Having spent 2,5 years in the Netherlands as Corporate Sustainability Manager of Nutreco, a leader in animal nutrition and aquafeed with 11,000 professionals globally, White’s desire to return to her country of origin made her the “ideal candidate” to lead Sustainalize’s latest endeavour.

“I am very excited to be working with the Sustainalize team and bringing their pragmatic approach to the Australian market where I am positive it will be well received,” said the Managing Partner of Sustainalize Australia on her new challenge.

Sustainability at heart

Tasked with setting up the operation and establishing a launching network of clients, White brings 12+ years of experience to the role. Prior to serving Nutreco, she worked for Australia’s largest Atlantic salmon producer, Tassal, and Nutreco in her first spell at the company. She also gained experience as an entrepreneur and in the academic sector, working as a Research Assistant in environmental economics at Queensland-based Griffith University. White, who becomes the firm’s fifth partner, specialises in setting and implementing sustainability strategy, reporting and data analytics, ESG and CSR reporting frameworks and stakeholder engagement. 

White will aim to replicate the firm’s A-roster of clients in Western Europe, which includes several multinationals such as Heineken, Ikea, Air France-KLM, Philips and Vodafone, as well as dozens of leading local players.

Reflecting on how they believe Sustainalize will stand out on Australian soil, the firm’s partners remarked, “We like to think of ourselves as a different kind of consultancy firm. Our clear vision and ahead of the curve expertise enables us to translate comprehensive sustainability themes into priorities that really matter. Importantly, we’re solution oriented and focused on getting things done. Our hands-on and flexible approach are what makes our clients smile – that is what we stand for.”

Australia’s bourgeoning consulting industry has attracted a host of European consulting firms off late to setup shop in the country. In 2018, UK-origin consultancies Baringa (in Sydney) and Transform both arrived (in Melbourne and Sydney), while Scandinavian consultancy Qvartz made its local debut when it acquired Sydney-based BusinessMinds.