Sydney, Australia — (METERING.COM) — May 5, 2009 – Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have engineered Australia’s first vehicle-to-grid plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, a car that can both be charged from a normal power point and feed power back into the electricity grid.

Launched last week, the modified Toyota Prius, named “SWITCH”, has been adapted with extra batteries, controls and connections, so that it can supply energy to the grid during times of peak demand and can also be charged using renewable energy.

Project director Chris Dunstan from the Institute for Sustainable Futures at USF said the SWITCH prototype was the next step in the electric vehicle revolution and opened up exciting opportunities for renewable energy storage.

“The extra batteries can store energy at off-peak times and feed power back into the grid at times of peak demand. On a large scale, this could level out peaks in power demand and thereby avoid the need to build expensive but seldom used power stations and network infrastructure.”

According to NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Carmel Tebbutt, the SWITCH would save up to 2.8 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year while promising dramatically reduced transport costs for families, with a fuel cost equivalent of under 40 cents (30 US cents) per liter compared to $1.50 (US$1.12) per liter for a petrol-driven car.

Last month, the NSW government announced the setting up of an inter-agency Electric Vehicles Taskforce to review the technology, infrastructure, policy and legislation on electric vehicles and look at any barriers to introduction that may exist. The taskforce has already met for the first time.

SWITCH will now be trialled as a fleet vehicle by staff at the Department of Environment and Climate Change. The progress of the car, its fuel efficiency and electricity tariffs will be monitored in partnership with EnergyAustralia.