Australia’s AGL Energy embarks on large scale EV charging pilot

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Utility company AGL Energy has secured funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to implement a large-scale electric vehicle (EV) charging pilot project.

The project will be deployed in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

As part of the $8.25 million trial:

  • AGL Energy will recruit 300 EV owners to demonstrate a range of smart and managed charging solutions.
  • Some 200 smart chargers will be installed at 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.
  • A software-based smart charging trial involving 50 EVs to test the ability of EV charging to be controlled by communicating directly with the car without the need for separate smart-charging hardware will be tested.
  • Some 50 EVs will participate in a vehicle to grid (V2G) trial to assess the ability and commerciality of EVs to become a source of energy storage and provide energy back to the grid when required.

AGL Energy is contributing $5.3 million towards the trial.

Project partners include JET Charge, Chargefox and FlexCharging.

ARENA’s funding will support charging hardware costs, installation costs and software development.

The project will be the first time V2G EVs will be deployed in a residential context in Australia. It will also be the first time smart charging has been deployed in Australia via software, potentially removing the need for additional smart charging hardware in the future.

The aim of the project is to accelerate the commercialisation of EVs 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.

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ARENA CEO Darren Miller said these trials would allow EVs to benefit the wider electricity system, and would support the integration of EVs into the system as uptake increased.

“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. 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.

“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.”

AGL’s general manager of decentralised energy resources, Dominique Van Den Berg, adds that the trial would be the first time in Australia that people could use their EVs to power their houses and export excess energy to the grid.

“This trial will demonstrate how we create value using customers’ distributed energy assets like batteries and share the value with them,” she said.

“We’ll be talking to customers during the trial to understand how they feel about smart charging so we can improve their experience.

“Although the trial is limited to 300 customers, it will help us to shape future energy offers to EV owners.”