New Zealand's first on-road solar-powered electric vehicle charger opened to the public in Tauranga today.

The $130,000 charger is located in the central city, has two allocated car parks and draws energy from 18 solar panels.

When the sun's not shining the grid provides back-up power, with any excess solar power being fed back into the grid.

The station was as efficient at charging electric vehicles as any other conventional charger in New Zealand's growing network for an estimated 2500 EVs.


The charger features a unique display unit, which shows users how much electricity is being generated from the sun, and how much is coming from the grid.

Another solar power EV charger is on private land in Wellington.

The Electric Station will provide free power for the first year from Trustpower and free parking for up to two hours thanks to Tauranga City Council.

Powerco is also involved and its general manager Andrew McLeod said the station was designed to bring locals to town to stay, charge and shop, and to encourage out-of-towners to visit and spend time in Tauranga's CBD.

"While on the rise, the number of electric vehicles in the Bay of Plenty is currently low, so initial demand is also expected to be low," he said.

The Electric Station is designed to get people thinking and show them that they can have an electric vehicle with the convenience of a grid-tied supply, while being able to supplement their energy usage with green technologies.

Bay of Plenty company Sustainability Options' development manager Jo Wills said the aim was a future that included electric vehicles and renewable energy was the norm.

"We are still early adopters in this space, but it's been a great experience to be a part of laying the foundation that will assist our community to make great choices."

Last month the government announced 15 projects, including plug-in grocery delivery vans and rubbish trucks, had been conditionally approved to receive around $3.5 million from the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund.

The government aims to have 64,000 EVs on the road by 2021.