Four Australian grid operators to participate in $3.4 million EV pilot

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Four Australian distribution network service providers are set to participate in a $3.4 million project aimed at preparing energy networks for an increase in demand due to EV charging.

AusNet, Evoenergy, TasNetworks and United Energy are the grid operators set to participate in the pilot, together with technology firm Jemena.

The pilot will also help grid operators to assess the potential costs and benefits of managed charging. This will enable the networks to minimise and justify future expenditure more accurately, while improving network infrastructure utilisation and enabling a lower cost integration of EVs for all consumers.

Jemena has secured $1.6 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to undertake a residential EV managed charging trial.

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Some 176 residential customers in the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Tasmania areas will be equipped with EV chargers.

The use of hardware based smart charging directed by signals from networks as opposed to electricity retailers will be used to ensure the stability of the grid.

The networks will install network monitoring equipment to better understand the network conditions and impact of the EVs in real time. Based on this information, signals will also be sent by each network to an aggregation platform that will communicate with smart charging hardware to control EV charging.

The pilot is the first time networks have played a direct role in EV charge management.

ARENA’s funding will assist in purchasing smart charging hardware, network monitoring equipment, as well as programme management costs for the trial. Hardware and software will be supplied and installed by JET Charge.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said that while ARENA’s other EV projects involve networks in more of a consultative role, this project will put networks’ in the driver’s seat managing EV charging for the first time.

“​As the penetration of EVs increases, it will be important to manage and orchestrate the charging of vehicles to avoid negative impacts on networks and costs and ensure the optimal outcome for all parties. Networks will be key to this as they hold the ultimate responsibility for integrating EVs into their grids while maintaining security of supply and minimising costs,” Mr Miller said.