Jason Venning, Country Manager, FIMER – EV Summit 2022

Jason Venning, Country Manager, FIMER – EV Summit 2022

by Katie

Speaker 1:

Can I please invite Jason Venning, the country manager for FIMER, who are our vent sponsors to take the floor. Please welcome Jason.


Okay. Some tough acts to follow, but here we go. So, it’s great to be here. It’s really fantastic to see participants from all levels of government, as well as business and industry bodies, getting involved in this discussion, and taking action as we begin this huge task of electrification of Australia, and our net zero emissions future. So FIMER, we’re very honored to be the sponsor of today’s event. And I would like to thank the Smart Energy Council, the Electric Vehicle Council, the Australia Institute and Boundless, for putting this in inauguralevent together, and certainly pulling a fantastic crowd.

                So, I’ll talk briefly today on three main topics. I’ll talk about us, FIMER. Talk about some of the key areas that we see need to be addressed, to support the rollout of EV charges and vehicles. And lastly, some lessons we can learn from other countries, to accelerate the take up in Australia.

                So, a little bit about us. So, back in 1942 in a town called Vimercate in Italy, FIMER was established by the Carzaniga family, to manufacture welding machines. Since then, FIMER’s evolved into new areas such as solar PV inverters, and electric vehicle chargers, with a focus on innovation and sustainability. So, 80 years later, FIMER’s still a family business operating out of Italy, with two plants that manufacture our solar PV string inverters and electric vehicle chargers. And we also have a facility in India, manufacturing our central solar inverters for utility solar and energy storage projects. So, we have manufactured over 55,000 EV charges for European customers, and we’ve recently launched our FIMER design products in Australia and New Zealand. And you can have a look at those outside in the foyer, at your leisure.

                So, we offer AC and DC charging solutions, from 3.7 kilowatts up to 150 kilowatts, which is perfect for pretty much every application. So, even though our history in Australia is relatively short, the acquisition of the ABB solar business in 2020, facilitated our entry into this market. And so, FIMER and it’s acquired businesses have supported Australia and New Zealand homeowners, businesses, and industry install solar PV and batteries, for over 15 years. And we really look forward to building on that legacy, by supporting Australia’s E mobility transition.

                So, let’s have a look now at what is being done to support EV uptake around the world. So, as Australia’s adoption of electric vehicles continues to grow, we can and should look at what other countries have done and are doing, to get the benefit of their experience. And it was great to hear Minister Bowen talked this morning about real action on higher fuel efficiency standards, because that’s one of the key points I wanted to raise. Talking about battery capacity for EVs. Even though battery capacity has improved over time, range anxiety is still a factor when people are considering whether to buy an EV as their next vehicle. However, we shouldn’t necessarily be using up all of our natural resources by making huge batteries, as smaller batteries are more than enough for the average Australian who only drives around 36 kilometers a day, typically.

                Instead, we should be looking to invest and encourage more charges to be visible and available, whether at the shops, the restaurants, on the side of the road, at offices, motels, hotels, and on highways. Education is also vital, and a number of speakers have talked about that topic today. We should be shifting the mentality of people, that it won’t be the same as filling your car up with petrol all at once. It’s like charging your phone. You top it up every now and then. And when you’re at home, or at somewhere for an extended period, you can charge it fully, if you wish.

                So in 2014, an EU appointed commission dictated that they should aim for 10 EVs per public charging point across Europe, to ensure enough room for everyone to charge when needed, which led to the EU to set a target of having one million charger points by 2025. So, as at the end of last year, this figure was at a little less than 300,000. So, you can see there’s a lot of work to be done to ensure a smooth transition, to meet even Europe’s ambitious electrification targets.

                Charging infrastructure needs to be distributed evenly, to ensure that someone can drive, let’s say an average of 60 kilometers, and be able to access a fast charger, as suggested by the European ministers of transport. Although our landscape is different in Australia, we also need to consider a standard to strive towards, which will mean continuing to invest, not only in urban and city charging, but also in regional and rural Australia.

                Governments, at all levels, as well as businesses, will likely need to choose between investing in fast charging hubs, or slower charges at parking spots. Now, although both charging types are required, where to put more focus is one of the questions. Whilst the first option can serve more users, thanks to shorter charging times with fast charging, it is more expensive, can require lengthy planning, longer installation times, and places more demand on that part of the distribution grid. The second option requires that vehicles stay plugged in for longer, which increases the need for more charging points, but they’re quicker and cheaper to install, and require fewer infrastructure upgrades. So, there’s certainly possibility for some quick wins there with AC charging.

                We need to encourage people to own a detached home, to have a smart charger installed, as they’re now doing in most more developed EV markets. The bulk of passenger EV charging, is 50 to 90% of all charging sessions, will still take place at a home. But we also need to offer solutions for people who rent or live in multi-unit dwellings, that might not have the ability to install or access a charging point easily. Also, drivers of commercial vehicles and taxis, may be required to charge multiple times a day, as do drivers who make longer trips for business, holidays, or other purposes.

                Now, a great example I saw recently of, let’s say outside of the box approach, was incorporating things like AC charging points into electricity poles. So, this is starting to happen in cities like London, and other European cities. And this could work really well in built up areas with street parking, or suburbs where off street parking for homes is less common.

                So, it’s one thing to have all of this infrastructure installed, but we also need to think about the end users’ experience too. It needs to be easy and affordable. Drivers will need to find a charger, see if it’s available, what it’s charging speeds and costs are. We also need to consider how many apps and accounts people will need to pay for their charge. So, I think standardization should be considered to encourage interoperability across competing charging networks, through common, technical standards, and roaming agreements. So, as an example, in Portugal, [inaudible 00:07:41] drivers only requiring one account to access any charging system used in the country. Some car companies will charge a roaming fee when using a different charging network, while other companies will charge a monthly fee to use any charger.

                So, an important factor that sometimes gets overlooked, is the need to consider the reliability and uptime of charges. So, we’ve seen reports of cases in Australia, where numerous fast charges in the same area, often not working for days, or weeks, or even months. This does not help shift drivers concerns when they may be left without anywhere to charge when they arrive at a destination. One way to address this, is to ensure the quality of the service. Particularly when funded with government funds and grants. I think considerations around performance targets, establishing mandatory maintenance schedules and local spare parts availability, may be required.

                We must have standardization across the states, to ensure consistency in technology, safety, cyber security, and quality. We don’t want to see each state doing their own thing. Having one national approach and framework is strongly encouraged. We also need to think about the impact on the electricity grid. So, the IEA estimates, there are now around 16 million electric cars on the road, worldwide, consuming roughly 30 terrible hours of electricity per year. The equivalent of all the electricity generated in Ireland. So, we must consider Australia’s energy grid, and how it will cope when more electric vehicles are on the road.

                One area to help the grid, is encouraging solar PV and storage, installed in homes and businesses, to limit the energy requirements at peak times, as we look to future proof our energy network. In Australian trolls, grid operators who offer incentive based pricing for off peak charging, have seen a positive change in when people charge their EV. Encouraging smart charges to be installed can also provide grid operators with the ability to view charging data, and control the charger’s operation, to help minimize the impact on the grid during peak demand.

                So, a key point I’d like to reinforce to conclude, is that we can learn much from what has been done overseas. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and create regulations unique to Australia, that may hinder the availability of EV vehicles and charging technology in our market, at this critical time. And in our opinion, a unified national approach to EV policy and regulation’s extremely important to us, as we start our journey towards the electrification of our nation.

                I think I’ll close on a personal note from myself. So, I’ve been in the solar industry for a number of years now, and that consists of a lot of very passionate people, who really want to make a difference. Not only around climate change, but allowing people to become more energy self-sufficient, and save money on electricity. In the relatively short time I’ve been in the EV industry, I’ve seen just as many, if not more passionate people, involved in EV, which is fantastic. And as those people and the people like yourselves in the room today, that will really allow us to get where we need to go. And just like solar’s done in the last 10 years, against a lot of headwinds, they’ve achieved a huge amount. I can’t wait to see where we are in 2030, in terms of EV in Australia. So, thank you very much.


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