It is no secret to anyone that the electric car expansion highly depend on your charging network. In fact, on numerous occasions it has been warned that Spain is far behind in the installation of recharging posts. In Europe, manufacturers associations they also put pressure on the European Union to take more ambitious measures. And, along the way, curious ideas continue to be born for recharging electric cars.
Until now, where the electric car is growing the most is in the big cities. Many recharging posts, public spaces where to plug in the car and a radial belt of service stations to go to if the battery starts asking for help. However, these problems are aggravated when you want to travel and, more especially, in unpopulated areas, where the distance between chargers is multiplied and the number of available plugs is much lower.
A very special country
The previous paragraph was a description of what happens in Spain, but other countries suffer from the same problem. This is what is happening in Australia which, to make matters worse, is considered the second country with the lowest population density of the world, with 3 inhabitants for each km2. It is not surprising that if we go to the Electromaps, let’s check that the number of chargers available is bleak.
As in Spain, the vast majority of its chargers are concentrated in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth but, in addition, it must be added that a large part of the interior of the country is made up of large, completely uninhabited landscapes. And if a driver has to travel hundreds of kilometers to get to the nearest city, it is clear that the electric car does not seem like the best solution, at least for now.
And to the above is added that the australian authorities They are not the institutions that have shown the most interest in the electric car. At the end of 2020, the imposition of a new tax on charging electric cars was announced. The objective was to compensate for the money that would not be received with the substitution of a combustion car for a zero emission one, since the latter lacks the consumption of fossil fuels, taxed with their corresponding rates. And it is not the only tax that has been applied in recent months, last year the first toll for use of highways to this type of automobile.
Exceptional measures for exceptional places
Neither the geography nor the Australian demography invite us to think about an expansion of the electric car. Nor in short-term institutional support. And yet, we have learned of a curious project that, in a country with its own idiosyncrasies, makes a lot of sense.
Halfway between Perth and Adelaide is the Nullarbor Plain, an immense plain of desert land that stretches 1,200 kilometers at its widest point. And yet, Polestar has managed to cross it by traveling 750 kilometers in an electric car thanks to the curious idea of Jon Edwards, a retired mechanical engineer who has created BiØfil, an electric charging station that runs on used cooking oil.
Travelling in the Australian Outback is not typically associated with electric
cars, but the # Polestar2 has just driven over 750km in a remote region of
Western Australia thanks to off-grid fast chargers that run on waste deep-fryer oil. pic.twitter.com/zxXG8G1Ver
– Polestar (@PolestarCars) January 25, 2022
This 50kW fast-charging station (until now Nullarbor Plain only had 7 or 11kW slow plugs) uses used oil from the Caiguna Roadhouse restaurant, a rest area with gas station and overnight space. There, a generator with a combustion engine manages to transform the used oil into electrical energy and allows the electric cars parked there to be given a handful of extra kilometers. Thus, the oil from hamburgers and hot dogs feeds body, soul and electric cars.
From ABC They assure that using used oil to charge electric cars was five times less expensive than supporting the charging station with solar panels or the electricity grid. As for its capacity, about 20 liters of oil are needed to recharge each vehicle and, as we said, to start it, a combustion engine is needed, so recharging is not completely clean.
But nevertheless, this original project is interesting in its own context. In a country where it is difficult to find support for the expansion of the electric car, they have found a cheap way to recycle used oil and, in addition, offer the only electric fast charging point for the entire Nullarbor Plain area. It will not be the best solution, but it can be a good solution.