The once sceptical Pike is enjoying his moment in the limelight. Aussie TV and Perth’s main newspaper came out to report on the installation, and he was a popular interviewee.
“I’m very interested to see how it turns out, and to see the turnover of people and the amount of people coming through now with EVs,” he says. “I think it’s a great step forward to reducing our carbon footprint.”
While burning cooking oil to generate electricity isn’t the zero-emissions solution that will come when solar panel/battery arrays become cost-effective, Edwards’ short-term plan reduces landfill and uses a fuel that’s already on site.
Respected EV commentator Roger Atkins applauds the initiative, particularly until the cost-benefit comparison of solar charging works out. “It’s important not to let great get in the way of good,” he says. Atkins champions “using whatever is local, available and efficient”.
This road was travelled many a time by AC/DC in their early days and was apparently the inspiration for their most famous song, Highway to Hell, and it’s fitting that it now has status as an electric highway. But the question is, now that Edwards has built the EV infrastructure, will the customers come?
“Over the past five years, the average number of EVs traversing the Nullarbor has been five,” he says. “Once word gets around that fast charging is available, we’re expecting it to increase to 20, maybe 40, even 100 a year.”
That potentially means an average wait of three days and not almost three months between visits from EVs. That’s definitely progress.