Driving on sunlight

UNSW and electric car services company Better Place have joined forces to get eco-friendly electric cars onto Australia's roads, starting with the Uni's own fleet.

Betterplace inside

UNSW will be among the first Australian organisations to commit to an electric vehicle (EV) fleet as part of a research and infrastructure agreement with EV services provider Better Place.

Better Place will provide charge spots and additional services to support an EV fleet, in a new Solar Precinct to be established by UNSW as part of its Campus Solar initiative.

UNSW's Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets (CEEM) and Better Place will also begin research, funded by the Australian Research Council, to investigate the impact that charging significant numbers of electric cars will have on Australia's power grid.

CEO of Better Place Australia, Evan Thornley, said the partnership with UNSW will enable vital research to allow Australia to move to a sustainable transport future.

"Electric vehicle batteries have storage capacity to take electricity whenever it's generated, so EVs become the perfect customer for intermittent renewable energy like solar and wind," Mr Thornley said.

"The cost of petrol is going up, the cost of batteries is going down, so the economics of electric vehicles are getting more attractive.

"Working with the solar experts at UNSW will help us develop this exciting opportunity."

UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer said that under the Campus Solar initiative, new solar panel arrays in the Solar Precinct will generate most of the energy needed for an EV fleet, with the remainder to come from other sustainable sources.

"UNSW is a world leader in solar photovoltaics and environmental sustainability is a research priority for us. We will be driving on sunlight on this campus," Professor Hilmer said.

"Our work with Better Place and the Campus Solar initiative will not only improve the University's energy efficiency but will provide the knowledge that will enable clean electric power to be used in energy-intensive areas such as transport."

UNSW Media Office: Peter Trute | 02 9385 1933 | 0410 271 826 | p.trute@unsw.edu.au