Recharging Bendigo - Solar Citizens

Recharging Bendigo

The Bendigo sign with historic buildings of Pall Mall in the background

Arriving in Bendigo the night before our event, we were greeted by a cool clear evening, which allowed us to check out a few of the beautiful historic buildings in Pall Mall - but unfortunately by the morning our luck had run out, and we woke up to a very wet and grey day. Thankfully we'd brought a marquee to keep us dry as we waited at the Old Post Office Gallery for people to arrive.

The Bendigo Council team with the Solar Citizens team and local supporters

First to arrive was the Mayor of Greater Bendigo, Cr Andrea Metcalf, who was soon joined by the Deputy Mayor, Dr Jennifer Alden, and Manager of Climate Change & Environment, Michelle Wyatt. They have been pushing for better EV policies for many years, and the City has a goal to transition more than 100 of their light fleet vehicles to EVs by 2030, but Cr Metcalf said the big thing holding them back was the supply. This is why she was one of many councillors who signed Cities Power Partnerships' petition for Fuel Efficiency Standards, which by coincidence had been released to the media that very morning!

It was also great to chat to Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters about our report and how much the Bendigo region could save if we implemented a strong and sensible Fuel Efficiency Standard! Check out our Recharging Bendigo Report.

Ben with the Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters MP

After returning to the Old Post Office to talk to WIN News, we were off to local business Safescape to see their Bortana EV - an electric ute built specifically for the tough conditions of underground mining. Safescape got their start in designing more resilient escape ladders for the underground mining environment, and expanded into other types of mining equipment, before making the leap to electric utes!

A typical commercial ute will only last 12-18 months in the wet, salty and acidic environment of a mine, but the Bortana ute - based on an Agrale chassis built for the Brazilian jungle, and galvanised to protect it from the elements - is expected to last more like 7-10 years. Clearly a big increase in longevity like this would have big benefits in terms of the upfront carbon that goes into building the vehicles in the first place.

Beau from Safescape and Ben checking out the Bortana EV

They were doing amazing things with the electric drive side of things, including a lot of telemetry to see what's happening with the vehicles they're sending to mines all over the world - and the electric drive aspect has big benefits for the mine environment, including cheaper running and not putting out the heat or particulates a diesel does. But there's clearly a lot of other problems they're trying to solve with this new vehicle, not just electrification!

Right now they're very focused on the mining sector, but there might be potential for them to sell a slightly less hardcore version to the general public in a few years - we'll certainly be keeping an eye out!

It's great to see local businesses creating innovative solutions, and just how wide the benefits of electrification can be!