• New Zealand is reducing our reliance on fossil fuel and moving to electricity, a cleaner source of fuel – and smart EV chargers can help smooth peaks resulting from additional demand, supporting further uptake of renewables.
  • EECA is publishing a list of approved smart chargers to help New Zealanders identify which chargers are optimally ‘smart’ and efficient for both home and commercial use.
  • EECA is working with industry to promote the roll out of internationally proven technology, to build a more efficient, affordable, and resilient energy system.
  • Smart EV chargers will pave the way for further grid-smart technology in homes and businesses – that along with demand flexibility will present a significant shift in our electricity ecosystem.

Modelling by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) shows widespread use of “smart” and energy-efficient EV chargers could save the country $4 billion by 2050.

Smart technology will reduce the need for costly investment in new power generation and transmission – reducing infrastructure costs for New Zealand and providing the opportunity for EV drivers to save money when charging at home.

EECA CEO Dr Marcos Pelenur said, “The uptake of smart EV chargers, and other grid-smart appliances, will be a gamechanger for energy in New Zealand.

“Kiwis need energy that is affordable, reliable and sustainable – and if we can avoid over investing in new transmission and generation by managing our existing use, we all benefit.”

“We have a golden opportunity to adopt smart charging now, while EVs are still just 2% of the national vehicle fleet, and to ensure we’re using the best technology available.”

EECA has today made a significant step in this direction, working with industry to publish a list of approved EV chargers for residential and commercial use. The approved list has been developed to help New Zealand homeowners and businesses identify and purchase smart and efficient EV chargers, a new technology for many.  

Smart charging technology can facilitate flexible and optimised charging of EVs, by responding to signals including grid capacity and EV battery status. Smart chargers can lower the electricity demand for EV charging during peak periods and times where there is congestion on the local network such as winter and early evenings.

At the same time, they can ensure that EV owners’ charging needs are met by seamlessly and consistently optimising charging to make the most of lower price periods and offpeak incentives – but with the option of overriding this where it is not the EV driver’s preference.   

Dr Pelenur said, "This approved list is the next step in our approach to help consumers understand the general benefits of smart chargers and which products meet the mark, while also giving clear signals to the market about the standards that we want them to meet. It should help drive voluntary uptake.

“We have had valuable input from industry, and there’s strong support for the move towards smart charging.”

Dr Pelenur noted that smart technology, including smart chargers, could unlock 2 gigawatts of grid capacity by 2030. “Depending on uptake, government may in time look at the opportunity beyond voluntary measures like the approved list, to regulations that could set mandatory standards for chargers. That would mean any charger on the market would have to meet the standards, giving consumers confidence in their choices.

Dr Pelenur said, “Our view – and one we have widely consulted on – is that smart chargers will need to have connectivity and interoperability, as well as using open communication protocols, so that chargers from different suppliers, working with different energy providers, can easily communicate with each other. We don’t want consumers locked into certain providers by proprietary systems.”

Stephen Batstone, Chair, FlexForum, says, “We know households want affordable, reliable, clean energy but have new and complex choices to make. Flexible devices, such as smart EV chargers, have a huge role to play in developing a consumer-centric power system and market. The approved list is a key piece of the puzzle because it will help people make choices with confidence that they are investing in something that will deliver the promised benefits.”

Glenn Inkster, e-Mobility Division Manager, TransNet NZ Limited, says, “As simple as EV chargers are, the commentary around this technology is anything but. As an industry we need to ensure the public can make an informed and confident decision for their smart EV charger purchase, and this initiative from EECA does just that. Unfortunately, not all EV chargers are created equal, and for the long-term reliability of our electricity infrastructure it's imperative we establish a comprehensive list of independently approved products that support the electricity industry, for the public to consider.”

EECA, with Standards New Zealand, has also published Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) for residential and commercial EV chargers. These give advice and technical information on the best smart, efficient, and safe EV chargers that are on the market for use in homes and businesses, as well as providing a checklist for EV owners to ensure their chargers are installed safely.

Smart chargers foreshadow the uptake of further demand flexible technology. Eventually, entire houses are expected to be smart, with appliances linked together into a network and in communication with the national electricity grid. The smart home system will operate the appliances within the house to use electricity as efficiently as possible.

Dr Pelenur said, “The approved list will keep growing, so EV owners can refer to it when they upgrade their charger. It will continue to offer the best information and guidance for consumers to support their buying decisions.”

Useful documents: