The remote and spectacular Lewis Pass route between Canterbury and Westland will no longer be an obstacle for EV drivers, with Aotearoa’s first battery-backed DC fast chargers planned to be switched on at Springs Junction next year.
The chargers are among 10 planned to be installed around the South Island in 2023 by Meridian Energy with co-funding from the government’s Low Emissions Transport Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), eliminating so-called ‘charging deserts’ and making EV ownership more attractive for New Zealanders.
Meridian Chief Customer Officer Lisa Hannifin says EECA selected Meridian Energy for its expertise and innovative approach to getting power into the highly challenging sites.
“In parts of the country, our electricity network is too constrained to support conventional EV charging. We’ve had to think differently and deploy technology never used before in Aotearoa to do something really transformative,” Hannifin says.
For Springs Junction, Meridian is planning to deploy a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) that makes use of recycled batteries from electric vehicles. The BESS will charge overnight to supply energy to the chargers during the day. The company says it will also consider adding solar panels to increase capacity in the future.
“This was a uniquely Kiwi challenge that called for a uniquely Kiwi solution. We’re proud to have Meridian’s leadership in EV charging recognised by EECA and we’re excited to get started,” Hannifin says.
Meridian will also install chargers at Kohatu, Haast, Hari Hari and St Arnaud, largely completing the task of providing public fast charging every 75km along Aotearoa’s State Highways. They will form part of Meridian’s Zero EV charging network which will be one of the largest in the country with over 200 installations planned over the next few years.
Meridian Chief Executive Neal Barclay says closing these gaps in the South Island is a milestone on Aotearoa’s journey to a future of decarbonised transport.
“The solution our team has devised at Springs Junction is ingenious and speaks to the history of overcoming the challenges of transportation in the South Island.
“Since Māori first found the passes and nineteenth-century road makers cut the first cart tracks, bridging the mountainous heart of the South Island has always been about persistence, hard work and innovation,” Barclay says.
The EV charger installations are expected to be operational between June and October 2023.
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