Energy provider AGL will provide a free fast charger to 250 battery-electric vehicle (BEV) owners as part of a trial to assess how the electricity grid will be able to cope with an increase in EV ownership.
The $8.25 million trial, run by the company’s AGL Next innovation hub, will help to determine how to avoid congestion on the grid during times of peak demand by switching EV charging to other times.
Running from early-2021 to mid-2023, it will be undertaken in conjunction with the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which is contributing $2.9 million.
It involves distribution networks United Energy, Jemena, Ausnet Services, Ausgrid, Energy Queensland, Endeavour Energy and SA Power Networks, and project partners JET Charge, Chargefox and FlexCharging.
How EV owners can participate
Of the 300 participants, 200 will receive a smart fast charger which will be installed at their 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
AGL will also install 50 bi-direction chargers to participating Nissan Leaf owners, which will be used for Vehicle to Grid (V2G) trail which will assess the ability and commercial benefits of EVs to become a source of energy storage and provide energy back to the grid when required.
The remaining 50 participants will be Tesla owners who already have their own Tesla charging equipment installed. AGL will schedule charging through the car itself, thanks to the vehicle’s API.
Other incentives include electricity bill credits, AGL carbon neutral offsets and charging control through an app that would allow them to set their charging preferences and be notified of charging ‘events’.
Participants will need to sign up to AGL’s Electric Vehicle Plan and will be selected across a geographic spread taking in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
EV owners interested in taking part in the trial can register their interest at the AGL Smart Charging Trial webpage.
EVs and grid management
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 trial will also examine the way forward for commercial models and investment in EV charging will help to inform electricity retailers, customers and power providers of the potential for EV charge management.
AGL General Manager Decentralised Energy Resources Dominique Van Den Berg said AGL was excited to partner with ARENA to understand when and how customers charged their EVs, which will become a larger part of the energy market as their take-up increased.
“AGL’s Virtual Power Plant, which consists of household batteries providing energy when the grid needs it, such as on hot summer days, is being expanded with this trial to include EVs, which are essentially batteries on wheels,” Van Den Berg said.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said as well as allowing EVs to benefit the wider electricity system, the trial 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.
“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.”
ARENA has also provided $838,000 dollars to a Smart Charger trial with Origin Energy, which will study charging habits and behaviour data, and examine the public’s willingness to accept third-party control of charging infrastructure.