Ergon Energy trial finds mass uptake of electric vehicles could impact its network


Townsville, Australia — (METERING.COM) — June 28, 2013 – Queensland electricity retailer Ergon Energy has completed an 18-month electric vehicle trial with initial findings including the need for upgrading the network and managing peak demand for mass uptake while also providing customers more charging options.

The trial involved a fleet of five Mitsubishi i-MiEVs, which were driven by Townsville customers at Mt Low and Mysterton during separate eight-month periods.

As expected, the EVs in the Mysterton trial, close to the CBD, were driven substantially less, averaging 138 km per week as opposed to the 330 km average recorded by Mt Low customers.

The trial also indicated that the distance travelled and battery capacity will help determine a customer’s choice of electricity tariff when it comes to re-charging an EV. Because of their location involving less driving the Mysterton drivers were more likely to charge their vehicles with the cheaper tariff (Tariff 33), while the Mt Low drivers appeared less likely to because of its availability times and the distances to be driven.

“Ergon’s trial sought to determine the differences in location upon customer driving, charging behavior and tariff preferences,” explained chief executive Ian McLeod. “And it is evident the further from the CBD, the impact on our network will be greatest as EV users drive further to access work, schools, services, hospitals and entertainment.”

The EVs were also found to be economical to drive, with an average cost of A$4.81 (US$4.46) per 100 km. This compares with approximately A$5.77/100 km for a hybrid vehicle, A$7.69/100 km for a small diesel car and A$11.54 for a small petrol car.

The trial also included a Mysterton home with a solar PV system. However, the EV was rarely charged during the day when the PV was producing energy.

These results will be used to shape Ergon Energy’s strategy for managing the impact of EVs, which are expected to become cheaper in the next few years and reach a price point where sales will increase considerably. Already since the start of the trial in 2011, the prices of EVs have nearly halved.