Most public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Australia are in malls. This is because the retail centres are funding these charging stations, which are now free to use, to draw environmentally concerned customers and enhance their brand recognition.
The price for the retail centres to offer this service could go up if the demand for charging stations develops along with the popularity of EVs. The Australian government has implemented policies like the Low Emissions Technology Statement 2021 and the Future Fuels Fund. This provides funding for constructing new charging infrastructure to encourage EV adoption and address the potential issue of limited charging infrastructure.
The quantity of EV charging stations in malls and other venues is anticipated to rise in the coming years.
Is the EV charging at shopping centres free?
In late 2023 there will be about 2000 regular AC charging locations across Australia, with approximately 300 public fast charging stations.
This number has started to grow very fast. But when compared to China’s total of 1.4 million EV charging stations. Australia is lagging a very long way behind.
As electric vehicles and hybrid plug-ins gain popularity, more and more of them hit the road. However, there are concerns that the current scarcity of charging stations will cause issues.
Shopping centre chargers providing free electricity
Right now, most public EV charging stations are in shopping centres, with more constantly added and more being built along highways.
For most EV drivers, a shopping centre EV charging station presents one of the most logical places. Outside of a home or workplace to charge the car.
Now, the question arises regarding whether these public chargers are free. If so, who pays for the electricity to supply the EV chargers?
New EV charging station installations within shopping centres like Stocklands and Westfields have recently increased. When you visit their websites in these shopping centres, they clearly state that EV charging is free.
Therefore, the answer is yes; charging EVs around Australia in shopping centres that provide EV charging is generally free.
The required electricity and infrastructure are provided and paid for by the shopping centre. The reason for this expenditure is that it will benefit their brand image as being environmentally friendly. As well as it will attract customers with EVs.
This model works right now when the majority of customers drive petrol-powered vehicles. Therefore the charge costs per day for a larger shopping centre would only be a few hundred dollars per day.
How will free energy be affected as popularity and demand increase
When the number of EV vehicles on the roads increases over the next few years, the shopping centre’s charging costs could reach thousands of dollars per day. This policy might be reviewed, and a charging regime could be implemented.
To ease these concerns of EV owners, the previous Federal Liberal Government has recognised the potential benefits of promoting EVs. This was proven through the release of the Low Emissions Technology Statement 2021. It specifies ‘Enabling Infrastructure’ as a critical goal.
Given that Labor won the last Federal Election and that they seem to be more progressive when it comes to renewable energy. Only more policies to support EVs are to be expected.
The main plan to achieve this goal revolves around providing low-emission energy to Australia’s residential, commercial and transport sectors.
Furthermore, one of the two main priorities to achieve this was including more EV charging stations to “support consumer choice”.
Future Fuels Fund
For example, in the 2020-2021 budget, the ‘Future Fuels Fund‘ was announced, aiming to “address barriers to the roll-out of new vehicle technologies”.
The fund provides the Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which manages the fund with $500 million to develop new charging infrastructures. So, while Australia is still a long way behind the rest of the world, there is a clear intent to play catch up.
In summary, EV charging stations are currently free and should stay free. If the Australian Government effectively applies these funds and continues to prioritise low-emission energy.
More and more charging stations will be installed in shopping centres and other locations consistently for the future.
This will remove the possibility of too many electric vehicles fighting over minimal stations in the future as long as the Australian Government follows the current policy framework.