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Electric Island Waiheke (EIW) came together in October 2018, as a result of a concerned group of islanders wanting to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles on the island, and assist action on climate change. The group was launched officially on 30 November 2018 with the stated goal of making Waiheke fossil-fuel-free by 2030.

Special guest at the launch was Christina Bu, the secretary general of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Owners Association, who challenged Waiheke to follow in Norway’s footsteps in the switch to electric vehicles.

Our vision for Waiheke is for an island free of the pollution, noise, emissions, and costs of petrol, hybrid and diesel engines.

We believe this can be achieved by encouraging moves now to an all-electric future.

Out vision is to achieve this by 2030.

Coupled with is our parallel vision for energy self-sufficiency using wind and solar generation to reduce and then replace reliance on the cable to the mainland.

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Electric Island Waiheke will start by running promotional campaigns promoting the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) on the island, dispelling the myths around EVs. With the rise in demand for EVs worldwide there will be a much greater supply and choice of new and used vehicle brands on the NZ market. In two years new EVs will be on a par in price with diesel and petrol vehicles. In the meantime, used import EVs are ideal for the island’s conditions, with a limited road network and the ability to charge overnight at home. EIW will be encouraging automotive retailers to facilitate easy purchase packages of EVs for Waiheke residents.

We will also work with local groups – including Piritahi Marae - and individuals to promote the use of EVs.

Public charging opportunities are also critical important for informing, promoting and reassuring EV owners that the infrastructure is in place for the new technology. Daytime top-ups for local/visitor cars and commercial vehicles doing high mileage will be required. EIW is already identifying sites and partners for the establishment of fast charging stations.

International Exemplars – The Future

There are successful models for Waiheke around the world including the island of Hvaler in Norway, which in 2017 opened Norway’s “first and only full-scale micro-grid” using solar and wind generation. This means that the power supply can go into ‘island mode’ if the local electricity grid goes down. It can run until the grid is back up again, at which point it will automatically switch back to grid-connected mode.

Christina Bu has introduced EIW to the people running the Hvaler project as she believes that Waiheke could be a testbed/example for the adoption of alternative power options in New Zealand.

In March 2019, three members of EIW attended “Electric Planet Oslo”, an international conference on innovative solutions for moving the world away from reliance on fossil fuels to new electric-powered alternatives. EIW have returned with examples of successful island solutions from places like Hvaler that we are keen to trial on Waiheke as an example for the rest of New Zealand.