Council approves mega EV charging station for Wānaka

by Lauren Pattemore - Jan 16, 2024

Resource consent approval by the Queenstown Lakes District Council could see New Zealand's biggest electric vehicle charging station come to Wānaka as early as Christmas 2024.

The solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging facility will have a total of 78 car parks, with a mixture of fast charging and slower, all-day charging options on offer.

It is set to be located within a new commercial development at Three Parks that will include offices, retail spaces, eateries and a medical centre. 

The design and quantity of bays was influenced by multiple enquiries for EV charging facilities from future tenants, says Mike Saegers, the chief executive of ROA group, the driver behind the development.

"We were going to build a series of buildings and put some EV chargers out the back, and then we started getting enquiries from a couple of larger tenants who were asking for 10, 12, 15 dedicated parks for their [EV] cars. 

"All of a sudden, we thought, why are we going to put EV chargers 'hodgepodge' outside of every building? This is something separate in its own right."

Mr Saegers isn't aware of any other charging stations in the country of this size.

Tauranga's new station dubbed as 'New Zealand's largest charging hub' by the New Zealand Herald in late 2023 has the capacity to charge 10 cars at once.  

The charging bay design and development has been fast-tracked for the company ahead of other design and, "all things going well", Mr Saegers says they're planning on gaining site access in July and being operational by Christmas.

The development timeline is dependant on the construction of new roads, with the extension of neighbouring McCormick Street set to begin shortly, Mr Saegers says. 

"Once the road work starts we will have a better ability to lock the programme down."

Red marks the spot for the EV charging location within the Three Parks development (Warren and Mahoney Architects New Zealand Ltd).

Mr Saegers says the resource consent application process took four months, proving difficult because it was such a new concept for the council to consider.

"We got the feeling that they [Queenstown Lakes District Council] weren't sure how to approach it, but they ended up looking at it as a service station."

Mr Saegers believes the council's definition shifted from the idea of a business selling fossil fuels to one selling energy. 

Just more than half of the parks will be undercover with the design plans showing the eight rows of solar panels for the charging station mounted onto a steel frame structure that covers 40 of the parks. 

Estimates provided as part of the resource consent application by Network Electrical Servicing Limited show the annual electric energy generation for the proposed system would be approximately 161MWhr, with the idea to also charge through battery.

An average day in December would produce 740kWhr; in July, 262. 

Mr Saegers says the different charging options will cater to different users of Three Parks.

Those parking for half an hour whilst getting a coffee or going for an appointment will be able to opt for fast-charging, at a higher-cost, while at the other end of the spectrum those working and staying all day could chose to only charge a vehicle if there is enough power on the grid to receive it for free.

Currently, there's only six other spots around the Upper Clutha area to charge an electric charging vehicle, each offering two plugs.

Mr Saegers says there's a "chicken and egg" situation with EVs in Wānaka at the moment - there's a few vehicle owners around, but he believes there's still hesitation in the community resulting from the lack of charging options. 

He believes if there's "abundant charging", it will make the commitment of owning one easier. 

Main image (Warren and Mahoney Architects New Zealand Ltd): Designs provided for the resource consent application. 

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