BlackRock Real Assets has made its first investment in the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in APAC, with a A$100m (€61m) investment in Australian company JOLT Charge.

The manager, on behalf of its latest US$4.8bn (€4bn) global renewable power strategy, has acquired a “substantial minority” stake in JOLT and plans to fund a A$500m rollout plan to develop an EV charging infrastructure in Australia and eventually overseas.

Charlie Reid, BlackRock Renewable Power, told IPE Real Assets: “We believe the Australian market has been somewhat of a laggard in electric car charging infrastructure. Given the overwhelming trend toward electric vehicles, there is an opportunity to get in at an early stage of the market to ride with the growth.”

Reid said BlackRock had invested in an EV charging company in the US, and was currently reviewing another opportunity in Europe.

“The potential size of the global market in EVs themselves by 2030 is around US$7trn, and the size for charging infrastructure is a US$1trn opportunity.”

He spoke of a wall of private capital chasing conventional infrastructure assets and said it was for this reason that BlackRock had taken what he described as a “more contemporary approach” to enter new infrastructure markets.

Reid, who has been talking to JOLT management for the past 12 months, said he expected the initial capital would be fully deployed to build out the first 1,000 charging stations over the next three years.

He said the plan was to roll out the number of charging stations to 5,000, costing a total of A$500m in Australia, and it was BlackRock’s intention to fund that growth through its funding rounds for the business.

JOLT operates 21 charging stations in the South Australian capital, Adelaide, and its first NSW station is to open in Sydney next month.

“Institutional capital will play a critical role in developing infrastructure that will galvanise and accelerate EV uptake in Australia,” said Doug McNamee, CEO and founder of JOLT.

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