What If… We All Drove Electric Vehicles?


Dr Allan Miller, Director Electric Power Engineering Centre

Transport is a large contributor to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and most of these emissions are from light passenger vehicles. If we all drove electric vehicles, powered with renewable energy, we could reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions significantly. However today most New Zealanders drive internal combustion engine cars and not all of our electricity generation is from renewable sources, which raises questions around whether we could convert our vehicle fleet to electric vehicles and whether this will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On the other side of the argument, electric vehicles are readily available today. They’re becoming more affordable, and New Zealand has plenty of wind and geothermal renewable generation planned. This talk will look at the history of electric vehicles and their technology, and consider the impact on our electricity power system if we all drove electric vehicles. It will also touch on the environmental impacts for New Zealand and other countries from converting to electric vehicles, first-hand experience of owning an electric vehicle, and the need for skills and training in New Zealand to cope with the rise of new technologies in the electricity sector, which includes electric vehicles.

Dr Miller is the Director of the Electric Power Engineering Centre (EPECentre), a research centre that aims to promote and support the excellence in education and research of electric power engineering. He is also the Director of the GREEN Grid research programme, which is looking at integrating renewables and other new technology into the grid, and aspects of the ‘smart grid’. As Director of both the EPECentre and GREEN Grid, Dr Miller has a particular interest in new technologies, such as electric vehicles and photovoltaic solar power, the impact they will have on the electrical power system, and the need for training engineers to manage the power system and the transition to these new technologies. Allan holds a PhD and BE (Hons) in electrical and electronic engineering, and is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (SMIEEE) and a member of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (MIPENZ).

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