Vehicle to Grid Trials Bring the V2G Technology Closer to Reality in Australia


Aug 06th, 2020

Vehicle to Grid Trials Bring the V2G Technology Closer to Reality in Australia

Imagine your car powering your house! In your dreams, you say. Well, wake up, because it's about to become the new reality with the ongoing vehicle-to-grid trials being undertaken by the government.

EV Returns Power to the Grid in a Vehicle to Grid System

The future of sustainable energy is looking good. We're looking at the almost-real possibility of a world where our automobiles not only serve as modes of transport but also a provider of power to the grid. The tech world calls it vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging, where the EV returns electricity to the power grid.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) recently released $2.4 million for the trials of the V2G venture in the country. I'll spare you the science behind how V2Gs operate; instead, here's the dummy version:

The V2G system uses EV batteries as an intermediate power bank. The energy stored in there may then be supplied to the electric grids when electric vehicles are off the road. In other words, a charged EV will be able to provide power to other devices, including a house. 

51 Nissan Leaf EVs Participate in V2G Trial  

The idea of V2Gs isn't new. Nissan has the V2G capability in Japan, and Tesla also integrated the V2G technology into its Model 3 recently. But the so-called "Realising Electric Vehicle-to-Grid Services (REVS)" trial certainly brings new possibilities for owners of electric vehicles with this technology in Australia.

For the trial demonstration, a fleet of ACT government cars is participating in a study to find out whether EVs can prevent blackouts by providing power back into the grid. Results will help to determine how two-way charging can provide energy during emergencies and cash out of the electricity generated.

The REVS has the support of Nissan and is being conducted jointly by ACTEW and the energy provider AGL (ActewAGL). The plan is to replace the ACT government's fleet of conventional ICE vehicles with 51 Nissan Leaf EVs. 

The 51 Nissan Leaf EVs will be deployed across the ACT as part of the government fleet. They will be used during business hours and then plugged in when not in use, suggesting 70% availability to the grid. The power generated by the process will help maintain the frequency of the electrical system – a function otherwise served by coal, gas, and hydroelectricity power stations.

Dr. Bjorn Sturmberg, the lead researcher of the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at the Australian National University (ANU), said the project could potentially enable a more robust energy supply system for the country.

In his statement to the Government News, he said that the vehicle-to-grid technology could be harnessed to step in quickly into the power grid when occasional outages happen, such as those caused by storms. He further added that an EV is on call for emergencies and ready to inject power to the system quickly and help save the day.

The main players in the trials are the Australian National University (ANU), Evoenergy, JET Charge, SG Fleet, ACT Government, and Nissan. ANU will use the data from the study to develop a plan for the commercialisation of the V2G system, while JET Charge will lead the marketing of a bi-directional charger to EV owners in Australia.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller also added that ARENA, which is also involved in developing homegrown driverless EVs, is focused on commercialising technologies that will help integrate EVs into the electricity system. The vehicle-to-grid technology will create an opportunity for consumers to own not only a vehicle but also an income-generating device.

Bottom Line

Imagine if all of Australia's 19 million vehicles went electric - it would unlock a future where EVs play a more significant role. With the vehicle to grid technology, EVs will be as crucial to the electricity sector as they are to the transportation industry. 

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By Damilare Olasinde