The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has committed $2.9 million to a new electric vehicle charging trial with plans to install around 250 homes with either smart charging software or vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems to better understand the technology.
ARENA is working with energy company AGL, which has committed $5.3 million to the large scale trial, with plans to recruit 300 EV owners across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
The project will be the first time V2G will be deployed in a residential context in Australia, giving participants the capacity to both charge their electric car as well as discharge excess energy back to the grid via a two-way charging port.
It also marks the first time smart charging via software will be trialled, testing the ability of EV chargers to communicate directly with the car and removing the need for separate smart charging hardware.
V2G applications and smart charging can turn EVs into potential liabilities to the grid, to likely assets. The ability for distributed batteries, integrated into EVs plugged into the grid while at home, work or on public charging stations, to support the grid and potentially firm renewables is promising – although not without its challenges.
The new ARENA and AGL trial, which has a total cost of $8.25 million, involves additional project partners JET Charge, Chargefox and FlexCharging and a cohort of distribution networks. ARENA’s funding will support charging hardware costs, installation costs and software development.
“As more Australians switch to EVs, it will be important to manage and orchestrate EV charging to avoid potentially costly impacts on peak demand, associated network charges and grid security issues,” ARENA CEO Darren Miller said in a statement.
“EVs also provide economic opportunities for consumers through the potential of reduced electricity costs through higher network utilisation and the potential to generate revenues that would reduce the cost of car ownership.”
In the trial, smart chargers will be installed in 200 EV owners’ homes where they will be remotely monitored and controlled to help move charging to off-peak times when cheap renewable energy is available or to respond to constraints on the grid. Alongside this, the trial sees 50 homes installed with smart charging software and a further 50 homes participating in V2G. The aim is to assess the readiness of the less mature technologies which ARENA says hold “considerable potential for the future.”
“This trial will demonstrate how we create value using customers’ distributed energy assets like batteries and share the value with them,” AGL General Manager Decentralised Energy Resources Dominique Van Den Berg said in a statement.
“Although the trial is limited to 300 customers, it will help us to shape future energy offers to EV owners.”
The overall aim is to accelerate the commercialisation of EV charging by examining the key sources of uncertainty and investment risk such as the commercial model, technology approaches, customer behaviour and market structure. The trial also will help to inform electricity retailers, customers and DNSPs of the potential for EV charge management and how those benefits can be recognised and valued.
“We hope trials like this will provide valuable insights into how EVs can provide value for money for consumers, but also help to transition our electricity network going forward,” the ARENA CEO said.
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